Understanding the Gluten Free Dog Food Diet
Many people new to the raw dog food diet or even those new to home cooked meals for their dogs wonder what it is we have against gluten. It is often misconceived that those of us who believe in raw or home-cooked feeding hate gluten. This is not at all the case. There are two reasons behind the promotion of gluten free dog food or a gluten free diet for dogs.
Before discussing both reasons, it is important to understand what gluten is. Gluten comes from grains, such as barley, wheat, and rye. Grains are a source of carbohydrates, which dogs need. They also contain protein. Because of these properties, grains, especially wheat gluten, are often used as ingredients in packaged dog food. Wheat gluten can act as a binder for certain dog foods. For example, it helps keep dog biscuits and kibble from breaking. It can also stimulate some of the wet dog foods.
Now that we understand what gluten is, it's time to see why it must be approached with caution. The first reason behind the promotion of gluten free dog food is because contaminated gluten is one of the ingredients that caused the thousands of deaths related to the dog food recalls between 2006-2008. Since these recalls, gluten in pet food has been scrutinized, and it has been debated whether it is necessary for pets at all.
This debate is related to the second reason behind the promotion of a gluten free dog food diet, which is the discovery that like humans, dogs can have gluten allergies like Celiac disease. As veterinarians and scientists looked into the matter, it was found that these allergies are relatively common among canines or more common than we realize. However, there are some dogs that are not allergic to gluten. Symptoms of a gluten allergy can include digestive difficulties and skin and coat issues.
In order to safeguard the health of their pets, people began turning to alternative methods of feeding, such as home-cooked meals and raw food. They also made sure that they kept their pets away from grains. This practice is not entirely correct, however, because not all grains contain gluten. You can actually give your dog grains without the gluten! Some gluten free grains that are great choices for dogs are quinoa, oats, and millet. Millet is one particularly excellent grain because it contains calcium, iron, potassium, protein, Vitamin B, and zinc. Some pet food companies are now using millet instead of wheat gluten or other grains that contain gluten.
Despite having found a substitute to grains that contain gluten, many still choose the raw dog food diet when feeding their dogs because among the many dog diets, raw feeding contains the highest amount of protein. Even if grains contain protein, the best protein for dogs come from meat, fish, and poultry, and this is exactly what a dog gets when eating raw!