You may have heard a lot about gluten-free diets and products in the past few years, but you might not have known that a gluten-free diet can benefit your dog. Very few dogs are completely gluten intolerant (Irish setters are the only breed that have been known to have celiac disease), but many are sensitive to gluten and are healthier when it is eliminated from their diet.
Why Are Dogs Gluten Sensitive?
In the wild, dogs are scavengers, meaning they eat a variety of foods, including meat, bones, rotten greens and fruits, discarded seeds and grains, and animal guts. Meat makes up most of a dog’s natural diet, and they consume very little grain. Most commercial pet food, however, is high in the type of grains that contain gluten, which promotes insulin production and the production of inflammatory chemicals. This can cause health issues such as weight gain and joint pain for dogs.
Buying Grain-Free Dog Food
If you think that your dog may be suffering from health issues because of their diet, or if you simply want to more closely mimic their natural diet, there’s a huge selection of commercial dog foods — both wet and dry — that are completely grain-free. One thing to keep in mind, though, is that many of these grain-free alternatives are a lot more expensive than conventional dog food. If you’re concerned about the price, it’s also easy to make your own grain-free dog food.
Making Your Own Grain-Free Dog Food
Since a dog’s natural diet is primarily meat-based, the food that you make for your dog should be as well. If your dog has been eating conventional kibble or other grain-heavy dog foods for years, ease them into their new diet gradually. Try to make them a mixture of ground meat (such as turkey), rice (a grain that does not contain gluten), some cooked and diced vegetables, and a can of tomato sauce. Make sure that you’re cooking the meat before combining it with the other ingredients, and don’t include onions as it can be toxic to dogs.
If your dog has been suffering from apparent allergy symptoms, poor digestion, joint pain or weight gain, switching them to a gluten-free diet may alleviate these conditions. Veterinarian Dr. John Symes has found that for dogs who suffer from idiopathic epilepsy, switching to a gluten-free diet has stopped seizures. If your dog doesn’t seem to suffer from any major health problems, switching to a more natural gluten-free diet can improve his overall wellness.