When we adopted Waylon, our 14 month old German Wirehaired Pointer, I knew that putting him on a gluten-free diet to avoid exposing myself to gluten would be best for my health, but I never imagined that it would also be essential to his.
From day one Waylon’s stomach did not handle his food very well, and as a result he was not even food motivated. We wasted no time in taking him to the vet since he was already drastically underweight. We learned that Waylon’s severe malnourishment had left his little body more susceptible to parasites, which he was treated for, and the vet agreed that a gluten-free diet might be best to rule out food allergies/intolerances.
We have since put Waylon and a completely gluten-free diet and our happy pup is now healthier than ever! Living a gluten-free lifestyle is a sometimes challenging, but also rewarding journey for those of us who are gluten sensitive. But have you considered that whether or not you are gluten sensitive, your dog may be?
Here are some key aspects of a gluten-free doggie diet:
- There’s Wheat-Free, and Then There’s Gluten-Free: One of the biggest challenges we faced while searching for the right food for our dog was finding foods that were free of non-wheat sources of gluten. Unfortunately, in the pet food world, “gluten free” tends to mean only “wheat free.” Most foods claiming to be free of gluten and grains still contain barley and contaminated oats–both known sources of gluten.
- Symptoms: Symptoms that your dog may have a sensitivity to gluten include: itchy dry skin, dull coat, loose stools, foul-smelling gas, lethargy, loss of appetite, and frequent ear (yeast) infections. If any of these sound familiar, you may want to contact your vet to ask about putting your dog on a gluten-free diet. Had our vet known as much about gluten sensitivity in dogs as my doctor knew about it in people, my diagnosis would have been a whole lot easier.
- Leaders of the Pack: Once I started looking for dog foods that are completely gluten-free, I did not stop there. I wanted to find the best gluten-free dog food for Waylon, so I searched every pet food e-tailer I could find, read customer reviews, contacted manufacturers, and sought the opinions of valued pet food critics. Waylon is now a much more energetic and healthier pup on his new gluten-free diet.
When we were ready to welcome a dog into our family, we turned to Petfinder. We found our amazingly sweet and loveable pup several hours north at the Humane Society of the Ochocos in Prineville, Oregon. This was a good nine hour drive for us, but well worth it for our newest family member! Sadly many dogs in this area are dropped off at shelters if they fail as hunting dogs. If you are looking to adopt a new pet, please consider visiting this no-kill shelter–the only one in its area.