I first learned about animal allergies to gluten last spring. I went to a presentation day for graduating university students at a local university in Minnesota. My friend, a biology major, had her presentation that day and wanted moral support. I sat there, hair unwashed and tired at nine a.m., to support my friend on her presentation. But the presentation before hers caught my attention.
This student, whose name I can’t remember now, talked about her time interning at a vet’s office. She showed some pretty nasty pictures of animals getting neutered/spayed, and one looked exactly like my tabby/calico cat and that freaked me out. I like to pretend that never happened to her. Then, the student got into her topic: dogs and food allergies.
What?? I don’t usually consider myself an ignorant person, but this was a whole area of knowledge that I had no idea about! I figured since my dog Reggie, eats trash, cat litter, crumbs off the kitchen floor, and anything else that smells good to him, he couldn’t have any allergies.
Turns out, as the student showed on handy graphs on her PowerPoint presentation, dogs can be allergic to a lot of things, like corn, rice, and most importantly, wheat.
That’s right people, some dogs have to eat gluten-free too.
“The overload of grain in most modern commercial pet diets is thought to deplete the animal’s natural state of good health over time, leaving him more susceptible to many health problems.” –Pet Wave
The student listed out symptoms of these food allergies, including rashes, throwing up, and strange behavior. In the vet’s office, they constantly diagnosed dogs as having allergies to their food to explain the dog’s sickness.
So that kind of stayed in the back of my mind for a long time. Later that summer I diagnosed myself as being allergic to gluten. Then, when I moved away from home and back to my own apartment for university, I started seeing commercials for gluten-free pet food.
This isn’t product placement for Iams Naturals. In fact, I almost got my cat this food. Then I read the huge list of ingredients on the side of the bag. It did not list wheat, but one of the ingredients is barley. If you haven’t read my What Is Gluten? page, then I’ll just tell you: barley contains gluten. So Iams Healthy Naturals is not 100% gluten-free.
Okay, since I’m not all about making crazy claims and starting a war (since clearly Iams is going to read this …), it’s very likely Iams is just using a marketing ploy. They don’t add gluten. But if gluten is already in the ingredients they use, they’re not really lying. They didn’t purposely add gluten as a separate ingredient. It’s like how some companies say their drink is made from 100% juice. But wait! What they’re really saying is that the percentage of fruit juice they add is 100% juice. But the rest of it has wonderful high fructose corn syrup and chemicals. See how that works? It’s like a little white lie.
Anyways, I posted the commercial because I think it has an important point: dogs and cats are carnivores. If they’re out in the wild searching for food, they’re not going to nibble in a wheat field or on some corn. They’re gonna go for the meat! Even though I don’t think my cat has any allergies to food, I’m considering putting her on some natural no preservatives, no grain, and no fillers food. Well, depending on how much it costs. (Sorry, Lena.)
So why am I talking about all this? Well, it’s because gluten intolerance isn’t just a problem for us humans. Dogs and cats can have it too. So do Fido and Mr. Purrs-A-Lot a favour if they’re sick and find out if they’re allergic to any food.
Need some names of healthy, all-natural pet food? Well, just for you, here are a few brands (click the name to go to their website):
–Wellness: They make pet food from all natural ingredients, and have the motto “Every ingredient has a purpose.” They offer grain free (gluten-free) food in both wet and dry formulas, for dogs and cats. They have a variety of diet options (for indoor/outdoor animals, weight control, sensitive skin, etc.).
–Blue Buffalo: In the company’s words: “NO corn, wheat, dairy, soy, or eggs, no chicken or poultry by-product meals and, of course, no artificial ingredients of any kind” in any of their products. They make food for cats and dogs, wet and dry recipes.
–Canidae Pet Foods: (only available in the USA) This company makes Canidae for dogs, and Felidae for cats. They offer grain free options and promise all their products are made from holistic, all-natural ingredients.
–Holistic Select: Pet food made all-natural for digestive health. Offers wet/dry food for cats and dogs and has grain free options. From their site: “[Digestive Health Formula has] pre & probiotics, natural fiber, digestive enzymes and digestive botanical, along with healthy, natural ingredients like fruits & veggies, healthy proteins, whole grains and omega fatty acids.”