Justine is the owner of a free-spirited husky. She’s learned to manage his
gluten allergies through research, trial, and error.
Mulder, our white Siberian Husky.
How to Recognize Gluten Intolerance in Dogs
It’s not a normal thing for a dog to be allergic to gluten, but it does occur.
If you feel something is not right with your pup—specifically when it comes to
digestive/intestinal issues—then he or she could possibly be allergic to
What Are the Symptoms of Gluten Intolerance in Dogs?
The following symptoms may present in dogs that have a grain allergy:
- Skin conditions such as patchy fur, fur loss, and itchy/flaky skin
- Ear infections
- Stomach inflammation, stomach sensitivity, pain, bloating, and painful digestion
- Issues gaining weight
- Licking of the paws or other areas consistently
- Mucous in the stool
What Is a Gluten Allergy and Why Is It Harmful?
Gluten is a standard ingredient in most commercial dog foods. It is a protein
found in many flours including wheat, rye, and barley. Gluten is used as a
binder in most foods and gives food its chewy consistency.
If your dog is allergic to gluten, their immune system is essentially
attacking the gastrointestinal tract—causing pain and discomfort among other
symptoms. Once damage to the intestinal tract has occurred, it can make it
harder for your dog to absorb nutrients through its intestines and may lead to
more health complications.
How Does a Veterinarian Diagnose a Food Allergy?
When you approach your veterinarian about this issue, they are going to want
to run some tests which can get rather costly. They will take fecal samples,
urine samples, and may even perform an x-ray or radiograph. The vet may take
blood samples, too—anything to rule out other reasons for your visit.
Allergy tests can be performed either via bloodwork or a skin test. An
intestinal biopsy may be needed to assess damage to the intestines. This all
can add up to a big bill.
By the look on his face, you can tell how unexcited Mulder is to visit the
My Dog’s Personal Journey
We received our white Siberian Husky, Mulder, from a friend of a friend. He
was a year old and only about 53 pounds. The previous owners were in over
their heads and at their wits’ end with constant liquid diarrhea and accidents
in the house. They had regular veterinary care for Mulder but could never get
him to gain weight. Of course, they neglected to tell us about the massive
amount of poop we were about to experience in the coming months.
We tried switching foods a few different times, giving him time to adjust and
waiting a few weeks to see how it went. We tried many brands including Iams,
Pedigree, and many other name brands. After several visits to a new
veterinarian and checking for parasites and all sorts of other things, they
still had no idea what was causing his intermittent runny poops. Some days he
would poop normally, and others it was like he couldn’t even make it to the
A Second Opinion
I decided to take him to a different vet for a second opinion. This vet
actually belittled me and laughed when I mentioned the possibility of a food
allergy, claiming it was all just made up pet-food conspiracies by pretentious
people. Checking him again for parasites, Mulder had an abdominal evaluation,
and the vet basically told me he couldn’t find anything wrong. He said to come
back in six weeks if he was still feeling ill.
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Immediately, I went home and researched some gluten-free dog food and went
with what I thought was the best. I looked for things that were “wheat-free,”
and I also looked for value and catered to what I thought would be the best
choice for Mulder’s breed. We chose to stay away from commercial dog foods
that contained corn and lots of preservatives. We came across a brand called
Diamond Naturals, which I ordered off of Amazon.
The New Food Worked
After just one week, it was clearly evident that the new food was working.
Mulder’s stools became more solid and consistent. He seemed to actually really
like the food, and we switched over our other dog as well. Mulder no longer
whined excessively because his tummy hurt. He no longer had stomach pain and
became more energetic because of it.
My point to you is that gluten allergy or sensitivity may not always be
diagnosed, so it is important to perform an elimination diet to rule out what
could be causing digestive issues. The elimination diet consists of eating
gluten-free for about six weeks and then slowly reintroducing food until
symptoms occur. For us, one week was enough to know. Mulder was no longer
allowed any table scraps, especially bread that contains flour, but he still
gets the occasional chicken or steak because he’s spoiled.
Did You Know?
Gluten-sensitive enteropathy in Irish Setters is a condition where the Irish
Setter has a significant allergy to gluten. This disorder, if left
untreated, leads to digestive distress and other symptoms.
Learning to live gluten-free can be a big adjustment, especially having young
children who like to feed the dog table scraps. It is important to keep a
close eye on what your dog is consuming. Some dogs may have a mild allergy,
while others may be in extreme pain from ingesting just a small amount.
Certain breeds are more sensitive to certain foods than others—like Irish
Setters, a breed genetically prone to gluten-sensitive enteropathy.
For my dog, we pinpointed that corn and wheat were the most probable culprits.
These are GMO crops that are commonly sprayed with Roundup which we are now
learning is carcinogenic. It is important to educate yourself on your dog’s
breed and their recommended diet. Depending on the breed, it may be beneficial
for your dog to have bison or venison as opposed to chicken or beef.
Does your dog have a gluten allergy? Please share your experience below. Best
of luck to you and your pup!
The food has arrived!
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It
is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription,
or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional.
Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a
© 2019 Justine Nalbach
Justine Nalbach (author) from Michigan on November 22, 2019:
Thanks Kenard! No one knows your dog better than you ! Happy Holidays!
Kenard Mcdonald on November 22, 2019:
What a fantasic choice sometimes you have to go with what you know is best for
you & your fury freind . Nobody is perfect not even a vet doctor dogs are our
children and with our children we have a parents train of thought.