Just like humans, canine companions can develop allergies to different food products. Although food allergies only account for a small percentage of allergy problems in dogs, the symptoms of food allergy -- specifically wheat allergy or wheat intolerance -- can be quite severe and should be addressed immediately.
Common Wheat Allergy Symptoms
Some symptoms associated with wheat intolerance and wheat allergy in dogs are quite pronounced, while others can be subtle. If you witness your puppy shaking his head, licking his front paws, rubbing his face on the carpet or sneezing excessively, he may be allergic to wheat. Diarrhea, ear inflammation, vomiting and dry, flaky skin are more severe symptoms of a wheat allergy.
Allergies May Develop Over Time
Although a puppy can be born with a predisposition to certain allergies and intolerances, symptoms may not appear immediately because your pup needs to be exposed to the allergen long enough to trigger a reaction. Many dog owners who feed their pets the same food for years and begin to witness signs of a wheat allergy are skeptical that their canine could be allergic, simply because they’ve “always eaten that food.” But because allergies develop over time, a food that was once safe can quickly become problematic.
One of the easiest ways to determine whether your puppy has a wheat allergy is to put him on an elimination diet. For a period of two to three months you must eliminate all wheat products from your puppy’s diet, including kibble and treats. While eliminating wheat, you’ll need to introduce other sources of protein and carbohydrates into his diet -- fish, duck, lamb, egg and rice are safe alternatives for wheat-sensitive canines. If you notice a change in your puppy’s health and behavior during his elimination diet, it’s likely your pooch is suffering from a wheat allergy or intolerance. You can then reintroduce wheat for a limited amount of time and watch closely for a reaction or recurrence of symptoms. If your puppy is in fact allergic to wheat, his reaction to the reintroduction will probably be immediate and more severe than the initial symptoms that were present before the elimination diet.
Check With a Veterinarian
If your puppy is suffering from severe symptoms like frequent vomiting or diarrhea, consult a veterinarian. While those can be signs of a wheat allergy, they can also indicate more severe or life-threatening illness and should be addressed by your trusted vet.
Julianne Kroon spends her days caring for animals as the owner an in-home pet sitting business and a dedicated humane society volunteer. She also serves as a national news editor for Internet Broadcasting and previously served as a reporter at a news radio station in Minnesota. Her work has been broadcast on KTOE Information Radio, KMSU Public Radio and featured in the "Mankato Free Press."