woman shopping for gluten free dog food

We’ve talked about whether or not your dog should be on a grain-free diet, but what about gluten-free? Is there a difference between gluten and grain? Should dogs eat gluten? CAN they eat it? The simple truth is that many people don’t even know how to answer these questions about what THEY eat.

When it comes to dogs and gluten…it depends. Like people, dogs have different tolerances for certain foods depending on their health and even their breed. The goal is to find a balanced diet that provides your furry pal with the nutrients they need to be healthy.

To understand what this takes and if gluten plays a role in it, let’s break down the relationship between gluten and your pup’s diet.

What is Gluten?

First, what the heck is gluten? According to the Celiac Disease Foundation, gluten is a general name for the proteins found in grains, including wheat, rye, barley and triticale – a cross between wheat and rye. Gluten acts like a glue that helps foods maintain their shape, and it’s what gives food its chewy texture – gluten is extremely common in dog kibble.

What Can Gluten Do to Dogs?

Luckily, gluten allergies in dogs are rare, but they can still occur. It’s called Gluten-Sensitive Enteropathy, and it’s most commonly seen in Irish Setters. Symptoms of these allergies can include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Abnormal coat
  • Failure to thrive in puppies
  • Weight loss

While most dogs can digest gluten and don’t experience issues with it, it’s understandable and acceptable if you want to find gluten-free foods. One way to do that is by seeking grain-free options.

Do Dogs Need Gluten?

No, dogs do not need gluten. Gluten was never a part of a wild dog’s natural diet and it wasn’t until kibble became mass produced that grains (and gluten) were added. Just because gluten can usually be digested by dogs just fine doesn’t mean it needs to be a part of a dog’s diet.

Does Grain Free Mean Gluten Free?

Yes, it does! Grain free means that ALL grains have been removed from the food, including those that don’t contain gluten, like rice and oats.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that grain-free kibbles often include ingredients that act as grain substitutes, including peas, lentils and sweet potatoes. This means that kibbles will usually have more carbohydrates than foods WITH grains, leading to several health problems in dogs.

This raises the question: if I don’t want my dog eating gluten, but gluten-free kibbles are not a healthy alternative, what in the world should I feed them?

Naturally Gluten-Free Dog Food

The best bet for ensuring doggy health is by giving them naturally gluten- and grain-free foods. Raw pet foods that follow the ALPHA Prey-Model Diet do not contain grain or modified ingredients because they are made up of nature’s essential ingredients for carnivores: meat, vital organs and bones.

Because Vital Essentials pet food does not contain any grains, there is a very low carbohydrate content. This small amount of carbohydrates naturally occurs from animal tissues, so your furry friend is getting all of the nutrients nature intended. Besides reducing the risk of gluten and other food allergies, raw food can also lower the risk of obesity in dogs.

You can watch this video to learn more about how your dog can benefit from the ALPHA Prey-Model Diet.

What’s the Verdict?

Ultimately, the decision to seek gluten-free food should be based on the specific needs of your dog. Vital Essentials foods offer precisely what the name implies: the essentials crucial to your dog’s health and happiness.

You can learn more about our raw dog food and treats here, shop for gluten-free dog food online, or find Vital Essentials in one of our paw-some local retailers.