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Are dogs gluten sensitive?

Coeliac disease, also known as gluten-sensitivity enteropathy, is common in people, resulting in chronic gastrointestinal changes including intestinal inflammation involving T lymphocytes and subsequent malabsorption (Davies, 2016). It is an autoimmune disorder, not an allergy or intolerance to gluten, and damage to the small intestine villi occurs because of the immune system’s response in producing antibodies against gliadin, which is found in gluten, a protein present in wheat, rye and barley (Davies, 2016).

Clinical signs of coeliac disease are primarily gastrointestinal such as diarrhoea, vomiting and flatulence, but patients can also develop anaemia, or neurological signs (Freeman, 2008) including neuropathy, ataxia (Hadjivassiliou et al., 2003) dementia and seizures. Up to 50% of coeliac patients may develop peripheral neuropathies and axonal neuropathies (Hadjivassiliou et al., 2006; Sapone et al., 2012) and in one study only 13% of patients had gastrointestinal signs (Hadjivassiliou et al., 2003).

While avoidance of gluten is very important for affected patients, gluten-free diets can be deficient in essential nutrients including vitamin D, cobalamin, folate, iron, zinc, magnesium and calcium (Vici et al., 2016).

While sharing some similarities with coeliac disease, canine gluten-sensitive enteropathy was originally considered different to the condition in people (Davies, 2016), however, gluten exposure has recently been implicated in paroxysmal gluten-sensitive dyskinesia in Border terriers (Lowrie et al., 2015), a condition previously known as canine epileptoid cramping syndrome.

Lowrie et al. (2016) reported a Border terrier with a combination of neurological signs and skin disease, signs suggestive of gastrointestinal disease with pathological changes in the gastrointestinal tract, and positive serological results for anti-transglutaminase 2 (TG2 IgA) and AGA IgG, all of which responded to a gluten-free diet (Davies, 2016). Symptoms: postprandial episodes of mild, whole-body tremors, lip licking, staring into space, adopting a praying posture, mild dyskinesia of the limbs and becoming mildly ataxic with slow, purposeless pacing (Lowrie et al., 2015). While the authors’ findings do not confirm a definite role for gluten in the multisystem signs shown in this case, the evidence is compelling (Davies, 2016).

We now sell dog and cat food that has 70% high quality animal origin raw material, 30% fruits and vegetables and 0% cereals, giving you the gluten free option for your pets.


Davies, M. (2016). Gluten exposure and multisystem disease in dogs. Veterinary Record, Journal of the British Veterinary Association, 179, 22, 570-571.

Freeman, H. J. (2008). Neurological disorders in adult celiac disease. Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, 22, 909-911.

Hadjivassiliou, M. et al. (2003). Gluten ataxia in perspective: epidemiology, genetic susceptibility and clinical characteristics. Brain, 126, 685-691.

Hadjivassiliou, M. et al. (2006). Neuropathy associated with gluten sensitivity. Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry, 77, 1262-1266.

Lowrie, M. et al. (2015). The clinical and serological effect of a gluten-free diet in Border terriers with epileptoid cramping syndrome. Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine, 29, 1564-1568.

Lowrie, M. et al. (2016). A presumptive case of gluten sensitivity in a border terrier: a multisystem disorder? Veterinary Record, doi:10.1136/vr.103910.

Sapone, A. et al. (2012). Spectrum of gluten-related disorders: consensus on new nomenclature and classification. BMC Medicine, 10, 649.

Vici, G., et al. (2016). Gluten free diet and nutrient deficiencies: a review. Clinical Nutrition, 16, 30087-30088.

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