Celiac Awareness Month Goes to the Dogs

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May is Celiac Awareness Month and while most dogs do not suffer from Celiac disease in its truest sense, thousands are afflicted with a dog food allergy on some level, often including sensitivity to grain - and their owners have absolutely no idea.

The Honest Kitchen

Most pets don't suffer such an extreme response (only Irish Setters have been shown to suffer true Celiac Disease) but consumption of glutenous grains by grain-sensitive pets, can lead to a number of long term, chonic conditions that are uncomfortable for the animals, and upsetting for their owners to witness on daily basis.

May is Celiac Awareness Month and many pet owners are taking the opportunity to learn about how a version of the disease may be affecting their animal companions.

Many pets in the United States are repeatedly prescribed antibiotics, steroids and other medications on a long term basis, for chronic health problems which appear to have no permanent cure. Thanks to several new educational initiatives throughout May, many pet owners are discovering that the answer may lie in a simple change in the daily menu for their pets, as well as themselves. A natural dog food diet that's free of grain, chemicals and fillers can yield positive results in just a few days.

In true celiac diseas or grain allergies, an immune response occurs when gluten is consumed; the villi, tiny hair-like projections in the small intestine that absorb nutrients from food, are damaged. Damaged villi do not effectively absorb basic nutrients.

"Most pets don't suffer such an extreme response (only Irish Setters have been shown to suffer true Celiac Disease) but consumption of glutenous grains by grain-sensitive pets, can lead to a number of long term, chonic conditions that are uncomfortable for the animals, and upsetting for their owners to witness on daily basis. " commented Lucy Postins, a companion animal nutritionist for The Honest Kitchen, a pet food manufacturer in San Diego.

According to Postins, the signs include chronic GI upset - intermittent or continuing diarrhea and / or constipation including mucusy stools are common pet food allergy symptoms. Vomiting may also occur in more severe cases; dermatitis - chronic dry and flaky skin, hair loss, redness, bumps, rashes and constant scratching are classic signs of a food intolerance; inflammation of the paws, leading to continuous foot-chewing or licking is another result of oet food allergies, and chronic ear infections - over-consumption of grain can lead to a buildup of excess sugars in the system. This in turn can contribute to yeast overgrowth, leading to dark, smelly waxy debris in the ears, head shaking and scratching.

Other health problems that may be related to pet food intolerances such as grain sensitivity include: arthritis, epilepsy, abnormal behavior, allergic and inflammatory reactions (including inhalant allergies due to a compromised immune system) as well as conditions like pancreatitis and hepatitis, as well as an increased susceptibility to infection, Cushing's, Addison's, and even Thyroid problems.

Not all these conditions are directly related to grain consumption, but the overload of highly processed grain in most modern commercial pet diets is thought to deplete the animal's natural state of good health over time, leaving him more susceptible to these problems occurring.

Some animal health experts have even speculated that long-term undetected pet food allergies may be the underlying cause of degenerative diseases such as cancer, heart conditions and kidney failure.

A couple of options exist to definitively determine if grain-sensitivity or pet food allergy, is present. Diagnostic blood tests are available and labs that conduct the tests are located around the nation, but tthe results are not always completely accurate - and the costs can be high.

According to Postins, an elimination diet is one of the surest ways to determine if a pet is sensitive to grains or has a food allergy. this involves feeding as few as two or three ingredients to begin, and then adding in new foods over time, to determine which ones cause reactions. It can be a time-consuming process for some pets, to pin down what foods cause their reactions, but for many pet owners, just cutting out all gluten or feeding a completely grain-free pet food is the answer to problems that have been plaguing their companion for years.

Many pet food diets are over-loaded with grains, yet grain is not a natural food for most dogs or cats. Lots of pet foods companies use refined grains and by products becuase they are cheap and easy to process. According to Postins, a natural dog food diet is more heavily weighted toward meat, with much lower carbohydrate content and few or no grains at all. Pet food allergies are easy to combat with a simple change in diet and Celiac Awareness Month is playing an important role in bringing the issue of grain intolerance to the front of people's minds.

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