Celiac Disease in Dogs

Why I Have Something In Common With An Irish Setter

By Liz Sommers
Owner, Beggles Dog Treats

irish setter An Irish Setter is at risk for celiac disease

So as it turns out, I have something in common with an Irish Setter. We both have a genetic predisposition to develop celiac disease because of our Irish ancestry.

Celiac disease in dogs is a serious issue, and you should take your dog to the vet right away if you suspect celiac based on the following symptoms.

Symptoms of Celiac Disease In Dogs

  • diarrhea and intestinal problems
  • depression / anxiety
  • chronic fatigue
  • memory and balance difficulties
  • joint paint
  • allergies

Those with celiac can't tolerate gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. When gluten is consumed by celiacs, an abnormal immune-system response attacks the small intestine, leading to a whole host of problems.

Perhaps most important to know, those with celiac and gluten intolerance will be underweight, because they can't absorb vital nutrients through their small intestine into their bloodstream.

Is your dog underweight or suffering from any of the above problems? Read on to learn more about celiac disease...

Why Celiac Has Developed Among Dogs

Wheat was introduced into pet food about 15 years ago. It's the most common binding agent used to hold dry dog food kibble together during the baking process.

Wheat is also the #1 food allergen among cats and dogs, so including it in a regular diet has repercussions for lots of pets. The malabsorption of nutrients that occurs in those with wheat sensitivity can lead to hip dysplasia, elbow and shoulder problems, intervertebral disc syndrome, cruciate ligament ruptures, and even heart valve failure.

When you look at what's happening on a detailed level, it makes sense: cartilage is made up of collagen and calcium (collagen is in fact the building block of most skeletal support structures) and the main component of collagen is vitamin C. Vitamin C will not be absorbed properly by those with celiac, which is going to cause problems with your pet's internal structures.

Although doctors cannot trace a definitive cause of why celiac develops, it's very clear what happens, as well as the myriad effects on the body.

I was diagnosed myself with celiac disease in my early 30s, and have been strictly wheat and gluten-free since then.

Interesting Facts About Celiac Disease

  • While Irish have a higher disposition toward celiac, research now shows that celiac occurs in 1 in 100 people in nearly every country in Europe, as well as North Africa, Asia and India
  • Only 10 to 15% of people in the United States that have celiac disease have been diagnosed.
  • Some countries, like Finland, have increase their rate of diagnosis to 50%. (The U.S. needs to do better.)
  • A diagnostic test that tells if you are at risk for celiac is done by swabbing the inside of your cheek and testing the cells for human leukocyte antigens (H.L.As) DQ2 and DQ8.
  • Doctors believe that genes in combination with environmental factors cause celiac disease.

I developed Beggles Dog Treats to be wheat-free so that I can maintain a wheat-free kitchen and not make myself ill, while at the same time giving dogs a tasty treat. Our own dogs are not wheat-sensitive, but they love our tasty treats!

While celiac is prevalent only among the Irish Setter breed, food intolerances can develop in any pet, at any time. And if they're eating a regular diet of food that's making them sick, it can lead to a miserable existence, take it from me.

Learn more about celiac disease in dogs to protect your pet's health.

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