Pet nutrition is important. Cutting out gluten from the diet can help both your pet and yourself.
As we discussed on the gluten free cooking page it is important to keep contamination to a minimum.
If you share your home with pets have you considered the risk their dog food can create? Feeding your pet a treat by hand, filling up their bowl with biscuits, and washing their bowls with your normal scouring pad, can all cause problems for a coeliac sufferer.
Of course a gluten free diet may be essential for your dog's health. Dogs can get eosinophilic gastroenteritis (a chronic disease that disrupts the normal function of the intestines) and it is believed that gluten is the cause.
Some dogs react to gluten by itching non-stop, somewhat like the condition Dermatitis Herpetiformis (commonly called DH) that can be a symptom of gluten intolerance in humans.
I recently received an email from a distraught pet owner in Malaysia. Twinkle, lost her dog at the age of 4, after he suffered teeth discoloration, anaemia, sudden loss of weight, fits of fainting, vomiting and a swollen liver.
The vet was sadly unable to save him and Twinkle's research since the death of her beloved pet 7 months ago, has led her to the understanding that gluten intolerance could have been the cause. She offers prayers to any other dog owner suffering the illness or death of their pet.
Animals, like us, need adequate nutrients for energy and to maintain and repair their bodies and tissues.
Their diet should consist of protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals.
Water is also essential. In fact a dog can survive for quite some time on just water, but no food soon claims lives
Protein comes in two forms - animal and vegetable.
The building blocks of protein are essential amino acids (required in their diet) and non-essential amino acids which they can produce themselves. Suitable animal proteins include turkey, chicken, beef, lamb, egg and fish.
The protein provided by vegetable sources is known as incomplete protein and comes from vegetables, fruits, cereals and soy. Ideally 40% of a dogs diet should come from protein and 50% of a cats.
Fats are an important part of pet nutrition and provide a concentrated energy source for your pet.
Fats help insulate and protect internal organs, are used in the production of some hormones, and assist in the absorption of fat soluble vitamins.
Essential fatty acids such as Omega 3 and 6 must be provided by the diet and can be found in foods such as sardines. Adequate fat in the diet also helps keep the coat in good condition.
Carbohydrates provide fibre and assist with digestion in the small intestines.
Of course too much can cause unpleasant effects such as excessive flatulence! Carbohydrates consist of cereals (such as corn, oats and wheat) and starchy vegetables like potatoes.
Vitamins and Minerals are necessary for a healthy pet and ideally should be provided by a normal balanced diet.
Although essential to good pet nutrition too many additional supplements can cause more problems than they solve, so beware.
This is not an easy question to answer. Basically, my vet always says, if you can feel an animals ribs but not see them, then it is getting the right amount of food.
Even if you narrow it down to a particular type or breed of dog you can't always give the same amount to pets in different environments.
Animals kept as companions, who get little exercise will need less food than a working dog of the same breed.
Feed a springer spaniel, like my own Skye, a working diet and only take it for a short 10 minute walk each day and you are building up trouble.
If, however, the dog goes field trialling and is on the go all day, hunting through the bushes and retrieving game for its owner it will require much more energy from its diet!
Your vet can answer this question for you. However, feeding your pet a gluten free diet will not cause any harm. Before our pets were domesticated, they ate mainly meat, either killed by themselves or scavenged, supplemented by berries, windfall apples, and other wild fruits and nuts they could find.
Wild dogs and wolves would eat the entire carcass, including the viscera and the gut contents, of herbivores.
In this way, they also consumed the chewed and partially digested vegetable matter that the deer or rabbit had eaten. Even the bones were devoured, cleaning the dog's teeth in the process.
Gluten free pet nutrition is a way to bring your cat and dog companions back to the kind of natural, healthy diet that their ancestors thrived on. with the touch of luxury and love that they deserve.