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    What’s the Deal with Gluten Sniffing Dogs?


    Jefferson Adams
    • Who could say no to a warm, fuzzy dog that can take a sniff of your food and signal you when it contains gluten?

    What’s the Deal with Gluten Sniffing Dogs?
    Image Caption: Image: CC--David Kessler

    Celiac.com 09/20/2018 - Some people with celiac disease experience extreme symptoms when they eat gluten. These folks adopt various strategies for navigating the world. One of those strategies involves getting a gluten-sniffing service dog.

    We’ve done a few stories on gluten-sniffing dogs over the years. Dogs like Zeus and Hawkeye are famous for helping their owners sniff out gluten before they can eat it.

    The stories are always popular. People love the stories, and people love the dogs. After all, pretty much anyone with celiac disease who has ever read about gluten-sniffing dogs would love to have one. Who could say no to a warm, fuzzy dog that can take a sniff of your food and signal you when it contains gluten?

    The stories almost always generate plenty of feedback and more than a few questions. To answer some of those questions, we’ve decided to do an article that provides some facts about gluten-sniffing dogs.

    Here are a few factors to keep in mind about gluten-sniffing service dogs:

    Gluten-free Dog Status:
    One thing to remember is that proper gluten-sniffing dogs are professionally trained service animals, much like seeing-eye dogs or hearing-ear dogs. 

    As professional service animals, the dogs must be trained and certified as service animals. The dogs may then accompany their master pretty much anywhere they go, and are available to assess all food and snacks.

    Gluten-free Dog Training:
    Proper training takes time, which equals money. Professional trainers might only train one or two dogs, and the training can take about a year. There are very few trainers for gluten-sniffing dogs, and there are also currently no official guidelines or certification.

    Gluten-free Dog Cost:
    In our recent story on the gluten-sniffing black Lab, Hawkeye, we noted that the dog cost $16,000, not including food, and vet bills. 

    Gluten-free Dog Reliability:
    Nimasensor.com notes that “[g]luten-sniffing dogs may detect gluten in amounts as small as .0025 parts per million with 95 percent to 98 percent accuracy.”

    The Mercola.com website says that Willow, a gluten-sniffing German shorthaired pointer in Michigan, can detect gluten with 95 percent to 98 percent accuracy. 

    Read more on gluten-sniffing dogs:

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    Guest Dog Training

    Posted

    I'd like to point out a couple important facts.

    You do NOT have to have a gluten dog professionally trained. Back in the 90's I trained my first Search and Rescue dog using a book called Ready. Five years ago I was approached by a friend to train a Diabetic Alert Dog. I told her I would help her, but I'd teach her how to train one. We documented the process in a book to prove you could train a Diabetic Alert Dog (DAD )at home. People use this book just like I used the book to train my search dog.. Training a dog to do scent work is easier than successfully completing obedience classes. Lol I've been told by almost every person that the dog learn s to alert way before he masters good behavior. I've been contacted by people as far away as Canada that have successfully used my book and sold books as far away as Europe  

    Also there is no service dog registry or certification. Do not fall for online ads make these claims.

     

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    I would not want a gluten-sniffing dog.  I do not want pets or more living creatures in my household. Can't we just, please, have reasonably-priced machines that can do this for us?  (The concept of employing another non-human creature for a task like this seems... unethical.) Until machines display sentience in reasonably tangible ways--as humans and other animals do--and/or the Robot Uprising finally happens, I will continue to prefer machines over living creatures for menial tasks.    

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  • About Me

    Jefferson Adams earned his B.A. and M.F.A. at Arizona State University, and has authored more than 2,000 articles on celiac disease. His coursework includes studies in biology, anatomy, medicine, and science. He previously served as Health News Examiner for Examiner.com, and provided health and medical content for Sharecare.com.

    Jefferson has spoken about celiac disease to the media, including an appearance on the KQED radio show Forum, and is the editor of the book Dangerous Grains by James Braly, MD and Ron Hoggan, MA.

  • Related Articles

    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.
    To become so accomplished at gluten-detection, Elias spent weeks in Slovenia undergoing intense gluten-detection training, and now he can detect and warn her away from anything containing gluten, hot or cold, in all its many forms. Teaching a dog to be alert to the scent of gluten is more challenging than other scent-detection training, precisely because gluten comes in so many forms. When it's time for Elias to do the sniff test for Scott, she places a cover with holes over the item, and the dog takes a sniff. If Elias smells gluten, he tries to pull the item away from her; if it's safe, he just looks away. To help Elias keep his edge, Scott tests him daily with known gluten-containing foods, and adds in products she hopes are gluten-free.
    Scott was diagnosed with celiac disease about two years ago after spending much time "in and out of hospitals" She's now acutely vigilant about checking labels and trying to avoid cross-contamination. "You can't drop your guard for even a minute," says Scott, who likens an attack to "a really extremely bad case of stomach flu" from which her body doesn't recover fully for nearly three weeks. That's where Elias works like a charm.


    Tina Turbin
    Gluten-Detecting Dogs
    Celiac.com 02/07/2011 - Maintaining a diet completely free of gluten can be a challenge for celiac disease patients, especially when it comes to avoiding cross-contamination. Currently there is only one treatment for celiac disease, an autoimmune reaction caused by exposure to gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye—and this treatment is the elimination of gluten from the diet. Despite our best efforts, gluten can sneak its way into our food, making us quite ill. While home testing kits are available to test food for gluten, these can be an inconvenience when dining out and can only detect 10 ppm of gluten or more. A recent article published by USA Today has made waves in the gluten-free world, making us aware of another method of testing for gluten—using gluten-detecting dogs.
    The article featured Hollie Scott and her dog, two-year-old Elias, a Beaceron who is also an AKG Grand Champion. Hollie Scott is a celiac whose reaction to gluten is particularly serious; even just the tiniest amount of the substance in her food can give her the symptoms of a severe stomach flu for several weeks. Scott attends the University of Missouri, where her dog attends classes and social functions with her and keeps her company at restaurants and on buses, trains, and airplanes.
    Elias was trained in Slovenia over the course of many weeks for his gluten detection training. Now he has the capability of detecting gluten in all sorts of hot and cold foods.  According to USA Today, “Teaching a dog to be alert to the scent of gluten is much more complicated than most scent-detection training, because gluten comes in so many forms.” Gluten can appear in bread and cereal products and can be processed in many different ways. It can also appear in less obvious products as binders or thickeners, in foods such as salad dressing and even in products such as Play-doh and lipstick.
    How does Elias do his job? Scott places a cover punctured with holes over the item while Elias sniffs it. Scott also practices with him on a daily basis, giving him gluten-containing items to test for her. When Elias detects gluten, he pulls the item away, and if there’s nothing to worry about, he looks away. Getting a gluten-detection dog may not be an option for many of us celiacs, but vigilantly reading labels, contacting companies, and clearly communicating with servers, chefs, and hosts can greatly reduce the risk of cross-contamination. Another option is a testing kit such as EZ Gluten® by ELISA Technologies, which is sensitive enough to detect 10 ppm in your food. Unfortunately, as USA Today says, “even hyper-vigilance isn't a 100% guarantee.” If you are particularly sensitive to gluten, as is Scott, getting a gluten-detection dog may be a smart idea. Perhaps in the future, gluten-detection dogs may be more widely used.
    With an increase in research and awareness, we have not only witnessed an increase in celiac disease diagnosis, but also several advancements, for instance the availability of products such as home gluten testing kits, home celiac testing kits, and gluten-digesting enzyme formulas, which have all contributed toward making gluten-free living less of a challenge. Gluten-detecting dog training is yet another advancement, which I hope will have a positive impact on the lives of severe celiac cases such as Hollie Scott.  
    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 

    Jefferson Adams
    Can Gluten-Sniffing Dogs Help People with Celiac Disease?
    Celiac.com 07/12/2017 - Humans rely on powerful canine noses to do so many things, including sniffing for drugs, bombs and even cancer.
    Now, some dogs are being trained to serve their masters by sniffing out gluten.
    Trained to help some of the 3 million Americans who have celiac disease, gluten sniffing dogs can be a tremendous boon to their owners, especially those who are highly sensitive.
    One such person is Evelyn Lapadat, a 13-year-old Indiana girl with celiac disease that leaves her with joint pain, stiffness and fatigue when she eats even tiny amounts of gluten.
    Now, thanks to Zeus, her Australian shepherd, Evelyn rarely has an issue with gluten. That's because Zeus has been trained to sniff out even tiny amounts of gluten in food. Zeus stays by Evelyn's side throughout the day at school, checking her hands and sniffing her food.
    Zeus has learned to raise his paw if he smells gluten. If the food is safe, then Zeus turns his head.
    “I haven't gotten sick in a really long time and it's like a really big relief,” Evelyn said.
    Maybe one day dogs like Zeus will be much more common.
    See more at NBCNews.com

    Jefferson Adams
    Hawkeye the Service Dog Sniffs Out Gluten for Sensitive Six-Year-Old
    Celiac.com 09/17/2018 - Her name is Hawkeye, she’s a black lab, and her mission is to detect gluten for a young man named Toby, who gets terribly sick if he eats food that contains gluten. Hawkeye is up to 98% accurate at detecting gluten with just a few sniffs. 
    Hawkeye was also expensive, costing a princely $16,000, not including food, and vet bills. That may sound expensive, but, says Toby’s mom, Amy "when you think about it trainers are often training only one to two dogs at a time and our trainer, she only trained one dog at a time and it took a year.”
    In Toby’s case, the community rallied to raise the money to buy Hawkeye, who is a registered service dog, and so can accompany Toby nearly everywhere. Everyone loves Hawkeye and her role in Toby’s life. Amy calls Hawkeye a “life-giver, and says that  Amy continued “she's breathed life and confidence into Toby that we haven't seen in a really long time."
    She adds that the family has “really seen just growth and development in him because he's not getting sick as often and he's now able to learn more. So he can now say his alphabet, learn his numbers and colors, things that just a year ago he wasn't doing."
    Gluten-sniffing dogs are rare, but their numbers are growing. The Mercola.com website says that Willow, a gluten-sniffing German shorthaired pointer in Michigan, can detect gluten with 95 percent to 98 percent accuracy. The website Nimasensor.com notes that “[g]luten-sniffing dogs may detect gluten in amounts as small as .0025 parts per million with 95 percent to 98 percent accuracy.”
    Love the idea of a gluten sniffing dog, but maybe daunted by the price, logistics or commitment? There are portable gluten sensors currently on the market, with greater accuracy than Hawkeye, for a few hundred dollars.
    Disclosure: Nima Labs is a paid advertiser for Celiac.com

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