Celiac.com 02/15/2016 - Gluten sensitivities have been documented in some dogs, but now researchers have the first solid evidence that gluten is the culprit behind a movement disorder in Border Terriers known as Epileptoid Cramping Syndrome (CECS).

Photo: Wikimedia CommonaThere have been anecdotal reports that these dogs might respond to a gluten-free diet, but no clinical studies. This changed recently, when a team of researchers set out to assess the clinical and serological benefits of a gluten-free diet in Bornder Terriers with CECS.

The research team included M. Lowrie, O. A. Garden, M. Hadjivassiliou, R.J. Harvey, D.S. Sanders, R. Powell, and L. Garosi. They are variously associated with the Davies Veterinary Specialists in Hitchin, UK, the Department of Clinical Sciences and Services of Royal Veterinary College in Hatfield, UK., the Department of Neurology at Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield, UK., the Department of Pharmacology, UCL School of Pharmacy in London, UK., the Department of Gastroenterology at Royal Hallamshire Hospital, Sheffield, UK., and with Powell Torrance Diagnostic Services in Higham Gobion, UK.

The team evaluated a group of six client-owned Bornder Terriers with clinically confirmed CECS. The dogs all had at least a 6-month history of CECS, with their symptoms observed and confirmed using video, and each had exhibited at least 2 separate episodes on different days.

The team tested the dogs for anti-transglutaminase 2 (TG2 IgA) and anti-gliadin (AGA IgG) antibodies at presentation, and 3, 6, and 9 months after the introduction of a gluten-free diet. They performed duodenal biopsy on 1 dog. Their results showed that, upon presentation, 6 of 6 dogs had increased serum TG2 IgA levels (P = .006), and 5 of 6 dogs had increased AGA IgG levels, compared to those of controls (P = .018).

After 9 months on a strict gluten-free diet, 5 of the 6 dogs showed clinical and serological improvement with CECS. The one dog that had persistently high antibody levels apparently scavenged local horse manure, which contained gluten. However, this dog, too improved after the introduction of a strict gluten-free diet. So, all of the affected dogs eventually responded favorably to a gluten-free diet.

To further demonstrate the connection, two dogs suffered relapses after gluten was reintroduced into their diets. In Border Terriers, canine epileptoid cramping syndrome is caused, and perpetuated by, an adverse reaction to gluten, and thus responds well to a gluten-free diet.

The takeaway for owners of Border Terriers is to keep an eye on their dogs, and work with their vets if they suspect canine epileptoid cramping syndrome; which can be effectively treated with a gluten-free diet.


J Vet Intern Med. 2015 Nov;29(6):1564-8. doi: 10.1111/jvim.13643. Epub 2015 Oct 25.

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