Full Title: Celiac Disease in Dogs
Author: Patricia DeMarco
Date of Publication: March 7, 2018
Research Paper Text:
Celiac Disease in Dogs
March 7, 2018
Celiac disease is a serious genetic autoimmune disease that damages the villi of the small intestine and interferes with absorption of nutrients from food. When a person with celiac disease consumes gluten, the gluten prompts the immune system to attack the lining of the small intestine. It is sometimes difficult to diagnose this disease due to the fact that symptoms can vary greatly from person to person. It is estimated that 1 in 133 Americans has celiac disease. It is not known how many of dogs in the United States suffer from celiac disease or a gluten intolerance.
Any dog can suffer from celiac disease or a gluten intolerance; however, it is most prevalent in Irish Setters, Samoyeds, and Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers. The duodenum (small intestine) in dogs is lined with tiny finger-like projections called villi. In dogs with celiac disease, the glutens in food cause the body to produce IgE antibodies. This causes the dog to show symptoms of an allergy (ex. Itching, diarrhea). Over time with continued consumption of gluten, the villi become damaged and are unable to function properly. This leads to malabsorption of many vital nutrients (including but not limited to calcium, iron, zinc, copper, magnesium, iodine, vitamins B and C) into the bloodstream. As a result of malabsorption, the dog can suffer many ailments.
- Possible symptoms of dogs with celiac disease:
- Chronic diarrhea with mucus
- Leaky gut syndrome
- Joint problems
- Weight loss or the inability to gain weight
- Diminished vitality
- Dermatitis – chronic dry and flaky skin, hair loss, hot spots, redness, bumps, rashes, constant scratching, skin lesions
- Chronic ear infections
- Susceptibility to infection
Many dogs suffer for years without being properly diagnosed. It is crucial however for the dog to be diagnosed as early as possible. Malabsorption can wreak havoc to a dog’s body. In some cases, major organs such as the heart, liver, or nervous system can be seriously affected.
There are no specific tests to diagnose celiac disease in dogs. Veterinarians will typically access a dog with a history of diarrhea, weight loss, poor skin, or a general failure to thrive by running routine blood and urine tests. He/she may also do a fecal examination for parasites, take abdominal X-rays, and test for exocrine pancreatic insufficiency. If nothing is found with these tests, a veterinarian will most likely put a dog on a gluten free diet for 2 – 4 weeks and look for improvement. All foods including dog treats that contain glutens (wheat, barley, rye, and oats) must be avoided. If it is celiac disease, a dog should begin to put on weight and many symptoms should begin to dissipate.
Celiac disease is a lifelong serious condition and there is no cure. However, it is completely manageable without the use of medicine by simply putting your dog on a 100% gluten free diet. Your veterinarian can help you find quality gluten free dog food and dog treats. By being diligent with your dog’s diet, you can help your dog live a long, symptom free, healthy life!owever