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Gluten-free Pet Food -- Really Necessary?

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Hi all,

I'm new to gluten-free and have noticed that some people suggest de-glutening everything, including pet food. I'm curious how many of you actually buy gluten-free pet food (cat food, specifically) and if it is really necessary. And if it is necessary, is it expensive, and do you have favorite brands?

thanks!

~Emily

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If you're sensitive, you may want to do this. I did it for a long time just to rule it out as a possibility. I've noticed a lot of pet foods have recently cut out wheat gluten after the contamination made so many animals ill.

Gluten-free pet foods do tend to be more expensive (usually organic or holistic brands). I used one of the Wysong's mixes.

I use Castor and Pollux now which has barley and just wash my hands after feeding.

I think it's an individual sensitivity decision. If you're very sensitive (which I was when I first went gluten-free) it's worth it for awhile.

Here's a Pet Food List website that might help you.

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If you have small children who put things in their mouths then yes I would go gluten free. Our pets are gluten-free because they react to gluten, vomiting, itchy skin, runny stools.

Everyone is gluten-free now at our house including the furry kids!

Animals react to things the same way people do. My vet bills are much less now that the furry kids are gluten-free!

mamaw

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Hi all,

I'm new to gluten-free and have noticed that some people suggest de-glutening everything, including pet food. I'm curious how many of you actually buy gluten-free pet food (cat food, specifically) and if it is really necessary. And if it is necessary, is it expensive, and do you have favorite brands?

thanks!

~Emily

I am an ultra, super-sensitive Celiac, as many here like to categorize it, and the pet food issue was a non-issue for me. I don't eat my pet's food myself and already have good habits like hand washing in general so I have never had a problem with it. I use very high quality pet foods and, although there is no wheat in them, they do have some barley.

Like make-up and topical products (except lip products, of course), if you do not ingest them , it should not be a problem.

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I used gluten-free food for my cat--to me it's just one more thing I don't have to worry about.

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I do not use gluten-free pet food. But you can bet if I start reacting to something and can't pin it down, I will switch my pet's food. And by the way, since I started feeding my dogs their breakfast with corn tortillas instead of wheat bread, my lab's continuous ear problems (his whole life) have cleared up. This is a first and we're not going back!

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If you check out the work by Dogtor J, a veterinarian who is also a Celiac, you will see that gluten is actually really bad for our pets, too. I don't have dogs right now, but when I do I plan to put them on a gluten free pet food as well. You might check it out. He has some great information about food intolerance in people on his website as well.

DogtorJ's website

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Well I thought I'd heard everything. Dog food sandwiches and tacos are a new one though. :D

I would recommend Rachel Ray's dog food. I don't know if she makes a cat food. There's no wheat, barley, or rye. And the other ingredients seem OK also. It's not expensive (IMO) and is at Walmart. What more could one want? B)

best regards, lm

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For cats, I would absolutely avoid gluten. Felines are obligate carnivores, and grain does not suit them for optimal health. (A few veggies are ok, but only about what you'd expect a wild cat to find in a kill's stomach.)

For my dog, I feed him mostly grain free foods (we rotate foods at each meal - you'd get bored too if you at the same thing every day, and your immune system wouldn't thank you for it either), and avoid all wheat, barley, and rye, but he occasionally gets something with oats if he really likes the rest of the flavor. There are four reasons I do this:

1) he also doesn't need grains as they are not a natural part of his diet,

2) too much refined grain (like "rice") or other simple carbohydrates have been linked to an increased incidence of cancer (cancer cells feel better off straight glucose, and cancer kills a saddeningly high number of dogs of most breeds),

3) grains are usually used to make a cheaper (both in cost and quality) food because things like "wheat gluten" allow them to put bigger numbers on the "minimum protein... XX%" without it being high *quality* protein, and

4) any training treat (be it a regular treat, or a high-value food if I'm doing a lot of training in a given day) is going to go into my pocket, and sit in my hand for a while, which - if I'm at the park for an hour - will probably scratch my nose or my mouth at some point, and would other wise contaminate me.

Is gluten free food more expensive?

That's a difficult question. Yes, a bag of high quality (Acana, Before Grain, Instinct, Natural Balance LID, Wellness Core, Taste of the Wild, etc....) costs more ($65/16.5lb pound bag of Acana, last time I picked some up, iirc), but you feed less of it. Comparing to some of the mainstream Purina and Iams, it looks like, for a 50lb dog, it's is generally 2.5-3cups of grain free foods, or 3.5-4cups of the regulars. It's worth noting that some of the "specialty mainstream" (Purina ProPlan, Eukaneuba Naturally Wild come to mind) have better ingredients (fewer by-products and grain fillers), so they generally don't have the same increased feeding guidelines. So, that $65 bag of food I bought, given that I'm feeding 20-25% less of it, is about equivalent to a $48-52 20lb bag of food. I don't find $2.60/day too much to spend on my dog for his food, even though it seems high when you buy the bag(s). (Of course, when you add in treats, it's more, but when I can use food for training treats (unless I need a really high value food), that helps too. And we spoil our dog. :) )

This site has some useful information on what to look for in dog food labels: Dog Food Analysis

Most of it holds true for cats, only they do *not* need vegetables. (Googling "cat food analysis" will get you some places to start gathering your own research.)

I should add - if making a homemade diet for your pet seems out of reach (time or money), consider doing it every once in a while. There's lots of stuff that overlaps with what they and we can eat (Neo's getting some onion-free chicken soup the next time I make it), and they rather like it. :D

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Nope, but then I feed the cats whatever and let them go outside so I'm the odd man out on this thread. For what it's worth, the cat I had before my current two was a true albino and completely deaf. She lived, despite everyone's warnings, for 13 good long years.

I think good handwashing goes a long way.

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I'll throw in one more voice. Kitty was put on the Catkins Diet a little while before I was diagnosed. My pudgy fuzzy ball lost 3 lbs in a year, got spring back in his step, and started playing more. His food is Blue buffalo. They don't have any major wheat/rye barley/oat ingredients, but I wouldn't put it in my mouth (even though it is human grade). They have "broth" and Vitamin E and I have not researched the source. FYI, Catkins is the cute name for a grainless diet. Kind of like Atkins. In theory and in name.

Remember that Gluten Free for pets has different standards than Gluten free for humans. I think in pets it means no grain. It does not mean that the Vitamins and broths and natural flavors etc are gluten free.

Now Birdie, he HAD to go wheat free. He still has oat groats, but I feel so much better since we changed him over.

I seem lucky enough to get an airborne gluten reaction.

Good luck and try different things out.

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Thank you all for the varied and thoughtful responses! I think I will look into what options I have in my area and see if I can make gluten-free work, price-wise, for my kitties. I live in a small city apartment and The Two (as we call them) are pretty ubiquitous. While I wash my hands very frequently and would never intentionally ingest their food, I find their fur floating absolutely everywhere, so their food could certainly be dispersed (though in tiny quantities) in unexpected places.

Very interesting to hear about the health benefits for pets, too!

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I have most of them on gluten free now (all inside pets) except the barn cats.

With the dogs, at least two, both from the pound and both are half of a certain large breed mix, are definitely sensitive to it, so that was a no brainer. The one drools a lot and who wants that stuff around.

One dog gets dry food and two others get half dry and half a homemade mixture we make ourselves. One dog gets seriously OCD on wheat so I am pretty motivated. We think the other half of him is border collie or irish setter, which would explain that, as they tend to be wheat sensitive.

I switched the house cat to gluten free and she started sleeping with me more often, it's bad enough that she licks me.

FYI, the DOG food I have seen from Blue Buffalo is NOT "gluten free" because it has barley, even tho it is labeled that way on the label- I have spoken to a sales rep about this and I got a lot of stupid excuses about how it's "holistic"- Well, they can hollistic it to the FDA if they don't get their act together on the labeling.

I also, the last time I went pet food store major reconnaissance, saw a lot other "gluten free" food that was not. Apparently these manufacturers don't care that BARLEY is just as bad as wheat. Always read the labels.

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they're using a different definition of gluten. gluten is a purified grain protein - be it wheat, barley, oats, corn, rice, etc. it's often used as a cheap filler in foods, hence the advertisement of "gluten free" meaning that they don't use a highly processed source of plant protein to fill out their nutrient profile. still true, but doesn't mean the same thing we mean "gluten free" for.

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Hi all,

I'm new to gluten-free and have noticed that some people suggest de-glutening everything, including pet food. I'm curious how many of you actually buy gluten-free pet food (cat food, specifically) and if it is really necessary. And if it is necessary, is it expensive, and do you have favorite brands?

thanks!

~Emily

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I suppose like everything else in the world of celiacs; it's about the level of sensitivity to gluten. For me, it was a must to make my dogs gluten-free. They sleep with me, they live in the house, they give me kisses and I touch them throughout the day. I don't wash my hands everytime or I would have raw hands. It made so much difference to put them on a gluten-free diet AND I bath them with gluten-free products.

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