Do you have concerns about glutens and your pet? Lots of owners have the same concern, or have at least heard about gluten-free diets for pets. This topic has come to light in the recent years, partly because of the pet 2007 Pet Food Recalls. These recalls were not related to wheat gluten itself, but that during the manufacturing process in China, a chemical compound was added in to make to product cheaper, and instead it made pets sick. Since this global recall, the quality control of veterinary diets has surpassed that of human food, with the ability to not only detect contamination, but the ability to look directly at nutrient profiles for each ingredient before the trucks are unloaded and the product used.
The second issue is currently in the human market, people are seeing a lot of “gluten free” items and labeling. This in turn extends into the pet food market, as a marketing term. Gluten intolerance (Celiac disease) is the intolerance to the gluten protein found in wheat, such as durum, kamut, melt, rye, and barley. Celiac disease is a hereditary condition that affects 1 in 200 people (0.5%) and is diagnosed through blood screening and intestinal biopsies. The Canadian Celiac Association states you should not start a gluten free diet without blood tests and intestinal biopsies. After diagnosis, gluten-free diets should be monitored by a registered dietitian with expertise in celiac disease.
Glutens are a source of glutamine, a very important amino acid use for the metabolism of rapidly regenerating cells, such as the digestive tract and immune system. In cases of disease or stress the consumption of amino acids increases. Glutamine is used by the intestinal mucosa as a source of energy. If the pet has insufficient amounts of glutamine reduces the integrity for the intestinal barrier, giving pathways for bacterial to be absorbed into the bloodstream. Corn gluten and wheat gluten are a good source of glutamine, containing up to 40%.
Although any individual dog can be allergic to any protein source an allergy to glutens is generally rare. Irish Setters and Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers have demonstrated a genetic predisposition to wheat glutens allergy (celiac disease) in some lines, but it is very rare. Wheat gluten is used because it is a very highly digestible protein source that provides several essential amino acids.