Despite what the “gluten free” fad will make you believe, cases of dogs with gluten allergies or gluten sensitivity are very rare. Similarly to the myth about corn, majority of dogs can actually consume and digest gluten without any issues. However, gluten allergies and gluten sensitivity in dogs does exist, and animals with these problems can experience a wide range of health issues.
The best and arguably the only way to deal with gluten sensitivity and allergies is with a gluten-free diet, either store-bought brands or homemade recipes. Before you begin looking for the best gluten free dog food brands or make your own dishes, you should be positive that your pooch definitely has an allergy or sensitivity to gluten.
How to Recognize Gluten Sensitivity in Dogs
Gluten is a general term for proteins found in grains like wheat, barley and rye. Oats don’t contain gluten, but they are often contaminated by it because they are sometimes stored or produced in the same place as other grains with gluten. Gluten helps pet foods keep their shape because it acts as a glue agent that holds the kibble together.
Dogs with gluten sensitivity cannot consume it because it can cause inflammation and damage to their small intestine. While people may have celiac disease which makes them sensitive to gluten, dogs can only have non-celiac gluten sensitivity; there are no recorded cases of celiac disease in dogs.
When the lining of the small intestine becomes damaged, your pooch will have a difficult time absorbing all the vital nutrients. In some cases, this can even inhibit water absorption. That’s why one of the main symptoms of dog gluten sensitivity is weight loss.
Other symptoms of gluten intolerance include chronic diarrhea, vomiting, mucus in stool and other digestive problems. Gluten sensitivity or allergy can also manifest through health conditions unrelated to a dog’s digestive tract, like loss of hair, dry skin, itchiness, fatigue and weakness.
It will take time to be completely sure that your pooch definitely has issues with gluten in their diet. Blood testing at your vet's is one of the ways to diagnose this condition, but most veterinarians will suggest elimination diet to know for sure whether your dog is sensitive to gluten.
While there is no evidence that gluten can cause IBD in dogs, the condition of Irritable Bowel Disease (IBD) or Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is another reason for dogs to avoid consuming gluten. And some studies have also suggested that dogs with epilepsy may benefit from a gluten free diet as well.
How to Feed Dogs with Gluten Sensitivity?
While gluten intolerance cannot be treated and eradicated from your pet, it can be managed with proper gluten free diet for dogs with this issue. Once you discover your pup has problems with gluten, you should switch to gluten free dog food brands or make your own homemade meals without ingredients that contain gluten. This isn't that complicated since there are many recipes to try, and different best gluten free dog food brands to buy.
When you're shopping, simply look for either gluten-free or grain-free label on the package. All grain-free dog foods will be gluten-free, but not all gluten-free diets will be grain-free because not all grains contain gluten.
Top 5 Best Gluten Free Dog Food Brands
The advantage of feeding gluten free dog food diet is not only to relieve symptoms, but also because these foods may have higher quality ingredients. These foods will also have higher level of animal protein because gluten is a cheaper way to add protein into dog foods, and once you remove it from the equation, you have to make up for it with “real” animal protein. Here are the best gluten free foods for dogs to consider.
Taste of the Wild High Prairie Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
Taste of the Wild is one of the best grain free dog foods available because it is high in protein and low in filler content. This particular formula contains roasted bison and venison but you can find other products by the same manufacturer and choose one of six different protein sources, including salmon and wild boar.
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This food is made without any grains, corn or other fillers and it's a perfect choice for pets with gluten sensitivity. It is free of any artificial flavors and preservatives. This dog food is made in the USA, although the ingredients come from sustainable sources around the world.
Purina Beyond Simple Origins Grain-Free Wet Dog Food
Purina is a hit and miss with some dog owners, but this formula is one of the most popular among pet owners with dogs who cannot eat grains or gluten. It is a wet dog food made of farm-raised chicken and peas, with other wholesome vegetables included in the recipe. This also makes it a very expensive choice, however.
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Another proof that this food is all natural comes from the fact that it is Non-GMO Project Verified, which means that protein sources in this recipe and other Purina Beyond Simple products are naturally sourced. It is also made without artificial flavors, colors or preservatives.
Diamond Naturals Grain-Free Premium Dry Dog Food
Diamond Naturals is a respect brand that's also affordable for pet owners on a budget, and this dry dog food is packed with high-quality proteins from real pasture-raised beef. Without including any gluten or grains, it's also filled with other important for the dog ingredients that help your pup develop and maintain lean and strong muscles.
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While they've gained a lot of popularity in the last few years, this company is still family owned and all their products are made in the USA with ingredients from reliable and sustainable sources. This product is free of artificial colors, flavors and preservatives and has no corn, wheat or other fillers.
Wellness CORE Natural Grain-Free Wet Canned Dog Food
One of the most well-known dog food manufacturers, Wellness brand has a choice for any condition, including gluten allergies. This formula has 80% more meat than regular dog foods with grains and it's one of the best gluten free dog food brands, albeit expensive. It is a protein powerhouse. This recipe is also free of any animal by-products.
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The natural ingredients in this pet food formula provide a balanced, nutrient-dense meal that is not only rich in protein but also full of antioxidants, essential fatty acids, probiotics and other nutrients. You can choose from a few different recipes, including different types of meat, fish, liver and a special puppy formula.
Iams Grain-Free Naturals Dry Dog Food
IAMS is known for their grain-free brands, but this one in particular is a good choice of dog food for dogs with gluten issues. The main ingredient in this grain-free recipe is farm-raised chicken. Other ingredients include farm-grown vegetables in order to provide all the essential nutrients for canines without resorting to grains.
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It's not much different from any other brand mentioned above, and the recipe is very similar. Just like the others, it's made with natural ingredients and without fillers. It is a healthy, grain-free meal perfect for dogs with gluten intolerance or grain allergies. Overall, it simply comes down to your preference of the company and the price you can afford.
3 Homemade Gluten Free Dog Food Recipes
If you want to feed your dog fresh, and commercial gluten free dog foods is not something you'd consider, then homemade meals is the next best choice where you can still be certain that your pup's intolerance to gluten won’t be a problem.
There are a few homemade gluten free dog food recipes you can try which I'll list below, but I would also recommend watching Samantha's three gluten free dog treats and food recipe videos:
- Homemade Wheat and Gluten-Free Dog Treats
- Homemade Gluten-Free Food
- Carob Crunchies Dog Treats (Wheat and Gluten Free)
1. Turkey and Rice Gluten-Free Dog Food Recipe
This homemade meal for your pooch is easy on his stomach because of the white rice. It is also nutrient-rich and full of protein.
- 1 pound of ground turkey
- 2 cups of white rice
- 1 tbsp. of dried rosemary
- ½ package of frozen broccoli, cauliflower and carrots mix
- 6 cups of water
Take a cooking pot or a Dutch oven if you have it and put ground turkey, rice, rosemary and water in. Stir the mixture until the ground turkey is evenly distributed and then bring it to a boil over high heat.
Once the mixture starts to boil, reduce heat to low and let it simmer for about 20 minutes. Then add frozen vegetables and let it all cook for 5 more minutes.
Let the food cool off for a few minutes and serve it warm to your pooch. You can also refrigerate it or freeze it to use at a later date.
2. Pumpkin and Peanut Butter Gluten-Free Dog Treats
These gluten-free dog treats are full of important nutrients but they are also extremely flavorsome. After all, dogs usually adore peanut butter.
- 1 pumpkin or 3 cups of pumpkin puree
- 3½ cups of organic oats
- 3 tbsp. of unsalted peanut butter
- 3 tbsp. of fat-free Greek yogurt
- 2 eggs
Preheat your oven to about 350 degrees (180°C).
If you want to make a fresh pumpkin puree instead of canned, take a pumpkin and cut it in half. Take out all the seeds with a spoon and chop the rest of the pumpkin into large chunks. Skin it outer shell from the pumpkin pieces and put them into a food processor or blender until you get a smooth pumpkin puree.
Mix the pumpkin puree and oats in a large bowl and mix it with a spatula until the ingredients become combined. Add eggs and mix it further. Add peanut butter and yogurt and mix it until all ingredients are fully incorporated.
Get the mixture out of the bowl and put it on a flat surface so you can roll it out and cut it into desired shapes. The mixture may be a bit dry, so put some cold water on the rolling pin to roll the mixture easier.
Once you cut the mixture into shapes, put the cookies on a baking tray (or two if needed) lined with baking paper or parchment. Put the tray into the preheated oven and bake the cookies for 40-50 minutes.
Let the cookies cool off before serving them to your pooch. You can also put them into an airtight container and feed to your dog when needed.
3. Fish Patties with Vegetables Gluten-Free Recipe
This recipe is great when you decide to mix it up a little bit and surprise your pooch with a yummy fish-based meal.
- 2 cans of salmon
- 2 carrots
- 2 potatoes
- 1 stalk of celery
- 2 eggs
- 4 tbsp. of rice flour
- Olive oil
Take the salmon out of the can and drain it, then mix it up with rice flour and eggs. When all the ingredients are well-combined, use the mixture to make small patties. Put the oil in a pan and fry the patties until they become golden brown.
Take the carrots, potatoes and celery and chop them all up into bite-sized pieces. Put them all in the pan with oil and stir-fry them for 5 to 10 minutes. Let the patties and vegetables cool off for a couple of minutes and serve them together to your dog.