Benefits of a Gluten-free Diet for Dogs


As members of our families, pets’ health and lifestyles are dear to our hearts. Often, digestive issues can affect the whole family.

Meet Mozzy – a two year-old Boston terrier with a bit of a problem. Mozzy’s digestive issues caused overwhelming gas, diarrhea, rashes, and sores. His problem began when Mozzy was a puppy, and his family quickly noticed that something was wrong.

“I felt so bad for him – the skin irritation looked uncomfortable and painful,” said Truly, Mozzy’s owner. “He had such bad gas that it was hard for others to be in the same room as him.”

A trip to the family vet revealed gluten as the culprit.

What is the problem?

“The vet told us that it is common for short-nosed dogs to have gluten sensitivity,” Truly said. “A major symptom was how bad he smelled after eating anything with gluten.” The vet recommended a gluten-free diet and warned against table scraps as well.

Vets have found that Irish Setters, Samoyeds, and Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers are especially sensitive to gluten. The symptoms are usually apparent by the time a dog reaches six or seven months of age.

Mozzy’s family began researching gluten-free diets for dogs. Many dog owners find themselves in a similar position, and ask the question, “What are the benefits of a gluten free diet?”

What is Gluten?

Broken down, gluten is the protein portion of a carbohydrate. Gluten can be found in the grains wheat, rye, buckwheat, barley, and oats. There are carbohydrate sources available that do not include gluten, such as rice and potatoes; however, most commercial dog foods and treats include gluten sources.

Why Gluten-free?

The discomforts Mozzy experienced are all symptoms of gluten sensitivity. In humans, this intolerance is called Celiac disease, but for dogs it is referred to as gluten-induced enteropathy, gluten intolerance, or gluten sensitivity.

Symptoms can include:

  • intestinal inflammation after eating wheat
  • diarrhea
  • weight loss
  • hair loss
  • bald spots
  • inflamed skin
  • sores

According to animal experts, gluten can also be linked to an increased rate of diabetes in dogs. It has also been linked to canine asthma and dry, itchy skin. Once gluten is removed, the need for steroid creams and antibiotics for treating allergies is often eliminated.

The consumption of gluten by sensitive dogs can also lead to issues with the GI tract, chronic ear infections, and an increased susceptibility to infections.

Healing gluten-sensitive dogs.

Thankfully, all these symptoms can be reversed with the proper gluten-free diet, as Mozzy and his family learned. Mozzy’s owner, Truly, says his strong gas cleared up within a day. His skin issues disappeared by the end of the week.

Before starting his new diet, they checked the ingredients in dog food and treats for wheat, rye, buckwheat, oats, and barley. They found several gluten-free options that did not include these ingredients. Mozzy transitioned to eating the new food immediately. He also began eating Healthy Partner Pet Snacks, which are naturally gluten-free.

“He gobbles the Healthy Partner Pet Snacks up like they're the best thing in the world,” commented Mozzy’s owner.

Some vets recommend a gradual transition to a gluten-free diet. Either way, once the pet is no longer consuming gluten, there should be improvements to their health. However, in some cases it takes 2-4 weeks to see a difference.

It is advisable to work with a vet to make sure your pet's new diet includes the right nutrition – especially if his health does not change or he begins losing too much weight. Also, if an elimination diet has not resolved symptoms, a vet can order blood tests.

Today, Mozzy is in excellent health. He has been gluten-free for almost a year. The rash on his belly and sores on his ears have healed. His family says he is less smelly and his skin has cleared up. He is a happy dog who enjoys spending time with his family.

Article written by Melissa Wheeler