Signs & Symptoms of Celiac Disease in Dogs

A study suggests Irish setters are prone to gluten intolerance.
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Severe pain, diarrhea, vomiting and gastrointestinal issues are the primary symptoms of gluten intolerance in dogs. In humans, gluten intolerance is called celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity. Canine gluten intolerances are generally called neither, but they do present in similar ways.

Celiac Disease Defined

Celiac disease is an autoimmune intolerance of gluten, the protein element of a carbohydrate. Celiac disease causes the sufferer’s immune system to attack the protein element of common carbohydrates, such as wheat, barley and rye. Once triggered to attack, the immune system targets the villi -- the small hairlike protrusions that line the inside of the intestinal wall -- altering the complexion and surface area of the inside of the bowels.

Signs and Symptoms

Aside from causing severe pain, intolerance of gluten can cause a dog to become bloated, to experience diarrhea, to vomit and to develop notably diminished skin condition. Loss of appetite is a sign of digestive tract discomfort. Monitor your dog’s weight if you suspect a dietary allergy of any type, in particular gluten intolerance.

Health Complications

The main complications associated with gluten intolerance in canines include weight loss, fatigue, diminished vitality and susceptibility to infection due to a compromised immune system. If you notice any of these issues in your dog, consult a vet immediately.

Tests and Treatment

Your vet will typically recommend an exclusion diet if she thinks gluten or other food intolerances are behind your dog’s symptoms. There is no specific test to confirm a gluten intolerance in dogs, so if your vet suspects gluten intolerance, he or she will most likely recommend removing all sources of gluten from the diet permanently if the exclusion trials lead to a lessening of symptoms.