Celiac Disease in Dogs

The celiac disease in dogs is due to an intolerance to gluten. Gluten is a protein that is found in many foods such as wheat, corn and rye. When a pet with celiac disease consumes foods that contain gluten, there will be an immune response that focuses on the intestinal tract. If the reaction is ignored, the dog can suffer from digestive tract issues and malnourishment.

Causes of Celiac Disease in Dogs

Celiac disease is caused by gluten intolerance. The celiac disease is considered an autoimmune disease, as the dog’s immune system reacts when the dog eats gluten containing products. The disease is idiopathic, but it is believed that there are genetic factors contributing to the development of the celiac disease. Certain dog breeds such as the Irish Setters are more prone to this condition. The condition can be observed starting from the age of 3 to 6 months old.

Symptoms of Celiac Disease in Dogs

The gluten intolerance will cause symptoms such as:

  • Chronic diarrhea, with mucus, due to the irritation of the digestive tract
  • Constipation—the dog may not eliminate for several days
  • Vomiting
  • Anemia
  • Weight loss or the dog is not able to gain weight, regardless of the amount of food he consumes
  • General state of weakness

These symptoms may occur if the dog consumes products that contain gluten (i.e. wheat, rye or barley derivates). If gluten is present in the dog’s daily diet, he may have a poor skin and coat condition and he may even lose hair. You may also notice skin lesions and the dog is very likely to shed more dander. His skin can be itchy and this will cause frequent scratching. Secondary infections are not uncommon in dogs with celiac disease.

Celiac Disease and a Lack of Nutrients

The celiac disease will affect the way the nutrients are absorbed in the dog’s body and next to the obvious symptoms of poor skin and coat condition, the dog will also be malnourished. This is due to the fact that the celiac disease will manifest through an immune system reaction, which produces antibodies. The antibodies will attack the villi, which are substances in the small intestine that help in the absorption of food and send the nutrients in the blood stream. In dogs with celiac disease, the nutrients won’t be properly absorbed. Even if the dog eats a lot of food, he will still be malnourished.

Diagnosing Celiac Disease in Dogs

Blood tests and a biopsy of the intestine will suffice to have a clear diagnosis.

Preventing Dog Celiac Disease

If your pet is diagnosed with the celiac disease, you will have to switch to a different diet and make sure that all the foods given to your dog won’t contain gluten. This includes the treats, which often contain gluten. Check the labels of the products that you buy and make sure they are gluten free. Avoid any meals that contain wheat or grains.