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    Is Gluten-Free Food Right for Your Dog?


    Jefferson Adams
    Image Caption: Is gluten-free or grain-free food right for your dog? Photo: CC--Andre Hagenbruch

    Celiac.com 08/04/2016 - With all the hype about gluten-free diets going around, it's only natural that dog owners might wonder about potential benefits of a gluten-fee diet for their pet. Before rushing out and spending money on a bunch of new gluten-free grub for Fido, it's wise to first ask a few questions.


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    First, figure out whether the dog is sensitive to gluten from wheat, barley, oats or rye, or if the dog is sensitive to grains including soy and corn. It's also possible that the dog has no sensitivities to the current food.

    Most dogs do not suffer from celiac disease, so a gluten-free diet is not necessary, nor will it be likely to improve the dog's health in any way. There are, however, some important exceptions. For example, Irish setters and dogs with Irish setter genetics can suffer from hereditary gluten intolerance. Gluten-sensitivity affects only a minority of Irish setters, but it does exist, and it's important to address in pets with symptoms.

    Gluten sensitivity is also a factor in epileptoid cramping in Border Terriers, so be on the lookout if your Border Terrier suffers from epilepsy-like cramping or seizures.

    While any dog may develop food sensitivities, some breeds are more predisposed than others. Boston terriers are often allergic to products containing corn or gluten, resulting in skin issues, or atopic dermatitis. Switching to a corn-free, wheat-free food can lead to significant improvements.

    The main point to remember is that even gluten-free dog food, with no wheat, barley, oats or rye, can still contain soy or corn, while many dog foods labeled as 'grain-free' happen to also be gluten-free.

    Dog foods that omit grains often contain other high-carbohydrate ingredients, such as sweet potato or tapioca. Whether grain intolerance, or gluten-intolerance is the problem, it is important to read the dog food label, and to slowly and carefully test out any new foods before switching over completely.

    Also, even though some dogs are allergic to grains, other ingredients, especially beef and dairy, are far more likely to trigger allergic skin reactions.

    Here are some top dog-food brands that offer gluten-free options that contain ingredients less likely to cause allergies. Remember, dogs have individual tastes and preferences. Some dogs will prefer and do better with some foods than others, no matter how highly rated the food. Obviously let your dog help guide you on this.

    A dog's needs also vary according to life stage. When you change dog foods, do so over a period of several days. So, it's best to try small samples at a time, and make the full switch to a new food slowly. Even the best new food may upset a dog's digestive system if it's not given time to adjust.

    Choosing the wrong food for your dog, or forcing a change too quickly can leave both you and the dog unsatisfied. That may be why even the highest quality dog foods can have unsatisfied customers posting poor reviews of a particular item.

    To help you with your search, here's a list of Top Ten Grain Free Dog Food Brands from Heavy.com.

    Here's a list of Top Five Grain Free Dog Food Brands from thealternativedaily.com.

    Here's the list of best Brands of Canned Grain-free Dog Foods, including tubs or cups, according to dogfoodadvisor.com.

    Lastly, here's a list of best Brands of Dry Grain Free Dog Foods, including dehydrated or freeze-dried, according to dogfoodadvisor.com. 


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    Guest Tania Malven

    Posted

    Our dog was diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease. The most common problem foods are: wheat, corn, soy, diary, eggs, beef and chicken. Fortunately there is a fair variety of dog foods which do not contain any of these but they are generally premium foods. You must always read the labels in case of ingredient changes!!

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  • About Me

    Jefferson Adams is a freelance writer living in San Francisco. He has covered Health News for Examiner.com, and provided health and medical content for Sharecare.com. His work has appeared in Antioch Review, Blue Mesa Review, CALIBAN, Hayden's Ferry Review, Huffington Post, the Mississippi Review, and Slate, among others.

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    Joanne Bradley
    Celiac.com 06/17/2008 - Water, water, everywhere! That is what I woke up to one day in August of 2007. It seems a big storm had lodged over a certain area of the Midwest – and I was in it. Wow, was I in it! A flash flood had raised the water level of a nearby lake to the point where it was in my town house–almost 3 feet of it. It happened overnight and we had to leave immediately. I was able to grab only a couple of things.
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    Jefferson Adams
    02/01/2011 - Imagine having a dog that was specially-trained to sniff out even the tiniest amounts of gluten in food and warn you ahead of time. There are scores of people with celiac disease severe enough that the slightest trace of gluten can make them painfully ill. Hollie Scott is one of them. Scott is a University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine student is also lucky to have her dog Elias is a champion Beauceron and a gluten-detecter extraordinaire. The handsome Beauceron comes from a 400-year-old breed that became almost extinct serving as messenger dogs in Europe during two world wars. Even though he is just only 2 years old, Elias is the first male Beauceron to receive the title AKC Grand Champion. His full title is: GCH CH Elias Mes Yeux Vigilants RN. But Elias' regular job is working as a gluten-detection service dog for his twenty-two year old owner, Scott, a first-year student in the program.
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    Tina Turbin
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    Resources:

    ELISA Technologies: EZ Gluten® http://www.elisa-tek.com/ez%20gluten.htm Gluten Free Society: Gluten Detecting Dogs http://www.glutenfreesociety.org/gluten-free-society-blog/gluten-detecting-dogs/ Two Little Cavaliers: Gluten Detection Dog  http://blogs.dogtime.com/two-little-cavaliers/2011/01/gluten-detection-dog USA Today: Pet Talk: Show dog knows his business, and his gluten http://www.usatoday.com/yourlife/pets/dogs/2011-01-11-pettalk11_ST_N.htm 

    Rebecca  Herman
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    Gluten Free Watchdog (www.glutenfreewatchdog.org) is a food testing site that was started to make expensive state-of-the-art gluten testing available to the gluten-free community at a fraction of the true cost. This is the first time this type of resource has been offered.
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    Events such as what occurred with Wellshire Farms made me realize that some manufacturers, while well-intentioned, did not understand how consumers in the US define gluten free when they see it on a food label. It also made me realize that some manufacturers did not know how to accurately test their labeled gluten free products for gluten, and that some of them were operating under the mistaken belief that if a product is (or is made from) a naturally gluten-free grain the product does not need to be tested. We have learned a lot over the years about cross contamination, starting with the study published in the New England Journal of Medicine on gluten contamination of oats and more recently with the study on gluten contamination of naturally gluten-free grains and flours published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.
    Combined, these events and studies may have undermined consumer confidence in labeled gluten-free foods. Most manufacturers are doing things right. It is my hope that Gluten Free Watchdog will allow consumers to have confidence in the products they eat and feed their family.
    Over the last ten years, you have published a significant amount of research on gluten-free product labeling.  And you recently authored a chapter on gluten-free product labeling in Melinda Dennis’ and Daniel Leffler’s new book, Real Life with Celiac Disease:  Troubleshooting and Thriving Gluten Free, which was published by the American Gastroenterological Association.  How has your research influenced Gluten Free Watchdog?
    From the consumer perspective the most important thing to understand about allergen labeling is that it pertains to ingredients only—it does not pertain to allergens that may be in a product due to cross contact. Currently, Gluten Free Watchdog is only testing foods labeled gluten free. In the future, we may test foods that appear to be gluten free based on ingredients.
    The Food Allergy Labeling and Consumer Protect Act (FALCPA) does not currently require the disclosure of barley or rye; or, contamination by manufacturers on product labeling.  Can Gluten Free Watchdog help us to decipher product labeling that may be difficult to understand?

    Gluten Free Watchdog is primarily a food testing site. My other website www.glutenfreedietitian.com contains extensive information on labeling laws and ingredients.
    Under FALCPA, the Federal Food & Drug Administration (FDA) is considering a proposed government definition of the term “gluten-free” for food product labeling purposes.  Once FDA approves a final rule, will the role of Gluten Free Watchdog change?

    Possibly but it will remain primarily a food testing site. Consumers will still want to know the level of gluten at which foods are testing and will still want the added confidence that independent transparent third party testing provides.
    On your blog, Gluten Free Dietitian, you discuss R5 ELISA tests, Ridascreen 7001 and Ridascreen R7011.  What is the importance of these tests, and are these the tests that Gluten Free Watchdog is using?  Are home-test kits accurate?
    The standard sandwich R5 ELISA is one of only two commercially available ELISAs validated at the levels used for regulatory purposes and official governmental methods (the other is the Morinaga Wheat Protein ELISA). The R5 and Morinaga ELISAs also are included in the FDA’s proposed gluten-free labeling rule as possible methods for rule enforcement. The competitive R5 ELISA may be used in conjunction with the sandwich R5 ELISA when a food is highly hydrolyzed.
    Gluten Free Watchdog tests food using the standard sandwich R5 ELISA and will, if necessary, also use the competitive R5 ELISA.
    What products does Gluten Free Watchdog plan to test in the upcoming months?  Are there any products that are difficult to test; and if so, why?
    We have been and will continue to test a wide variety of products—grains, flours, breads, cereals, pastas, cookies, etc. Anyone can visit the site and browse through the products that have been tested to date. However, testing data is available only to subscribers. One of the nice features of Gluten Free Watchdog is that subscribers can request that certain products be tested.
    One of the keys to successful testing of products is getting a homogenized sample—meaning any contaminant is evenly distributed throughout the sample being tested and there are no “hot spots.” This is why we test two extractions of each “homogenized” sample at Gluten Free Watchdog—we want to make sure the sample is truly homogenized. It can sometimes be tricky to get a homogenized sample when testing raw grains in grain versus flour form.
    FALCPA does not cover foods regulated by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) has yet to finalize an allergen labeling rule for distilled spirits, beer, and wine.  Under TTB’s current labeling provisions, the term “gluten-free” is considered a health claim and its use is prohibited.  Are USDA and TTB adequately protecting consumers?  If not, does Gluten Free Watchdog plan to test any products regulated by either?
    Neither the TTB nor the USDA have mandatory allergen labeling and it will be interesting to see how they proceed with gluten-free labeling once the FDA’s gluten-free labeling law is in place. I have been told by representatives of the USDA that they will adopt the FDA’s gluten-free labeling law rather than develop their own.
    Gluten Free Watchdog will test USDA-regulated foods that are labeled gluten free. As mentioned earlier, we may start testing foods that appear to be gluten free based on ingredients. When we do, we would be happy to test beverages regulated by the TTB.
    Is Gluten Free Watchdog affiliated with any companies that sell or market gluten-free products?
    Nope! That is why we really need the support of gluten-free consumers!! It is my hope that members of the gluten-free community will see the value in having this type of resource available and will be willing to contribute a relatively small amount in exchange for access to expensive testing and input on what is tested—similar to a co-op.
    Source:

    Gluten-Free Foods and Beverages in the U.S., 3rd Edition.  Packaged Facts, February 2011.

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