The latest human nutrition trend is eliminating gluten from diets, and for good reason.  In people,
gluten intolerance causes, at the very least, irritability and fatigue.  At worst, like for sufferers of
celiac disease, it triggers a detrimental immune response that causes the small intestine to stop
absorbing vital nutrients the body needs.  Now research has shown that dogs can be sensitive to
gluten as well.  An allergic reaction to gluten, a protein found in some cereal grains, can cause
scratching, foot-chewing, flaky skin, diarrhea, ear infections, constipation or more serious
conditions.   Gluten has been linked to 55 diseases in people and may also promote negative health
effects in dogs including: Behavioral Changes, Autoimmune Diseases, Inflammatory Bowel Disease,
Cancer, Fatigue, Obesity, Neurological Disorders, Inflammation, and Thyroid problems.  And, it is
much more common than you may think.

Recently I had an incident with one of our teacups, Roxy, where I suspected she might be allergic to
gluten.  I'm addicted to Pam’s Pita Chips, and when the dogs hear me in the Pita bag, they gather at
my feet and wait patiently hoping I will drop one.  Falling victim to their pleading stares, I got in the
habit of tossing out a few.  When Roxy started sneezing and coughing the vet started her on an
antibiotic, which initially helped.  One day after tossing out a few of the chips, it came to me that she
might be allergic to gluten.  She was wheezing and coughing again, so I stopped the chips for three
weeks, and she got better.  Then I decided to test my theory, and I gave her a chip.  That very
afternoon, the coughing came back.   

The trouble for dog owners is that gluten-free feeding can be tricky, since the protein seems to be in
just about everything, including many commercial dog foods and treats.  It’s in wheat, rye, and
barley, and food and treat manufacturers may use it to stimulate meat in wet food and boost overall
protein claims on labels.  Interestingly, research has found that dogs simply don’t need gluten.  
Further evidence is the fact that they thrive in the wild on a largely carb-free, grain-free diet of meat,
fat, and water.  More telling is the fact that a whole host of health issues, like those mentioned
earlier, can disappear when dogs go gluten-free.  Researchers estimate that millions of people suffer
from some form of gluten intolerance and don't even know it.  That number could be as high in our
dogs, who are not genetically adapted to eating wheat.  

So what should you feed your pet?  Commercial food that contains less cereal and more rice,  might
be the answer.  Check your labels to find foods with healthy no gluten ingredients like buckwheat,
millet, quinoa, and sunflower seeds, which will all deliver fiber and nutrients such as iron.  The best
protein is lamb, duck, liver, pork, bison, or fish.  You always want those proteins to be first on the
ingredient list.  The nearer the top of the list the grains are, the larger the quantity of grain there will
be in the food.  Many of the better dog foods are grain free.  Just make sure that the minimum fat
content for schnauzers is in the 10-14% range.  

If your dog suffers from a chronic malady, and no matter what you do , you just can't seem to cure it,
try removing all gluten from his/her diet.  You just might be surprised at the remarkable turn-around.
Is Gluten Making your Dog Sick?