Is Gluten Bad For Dogs
Health & Nutrition

Is Gluten Bad for Dogs?

This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

Dog diets have changed drastically over the last few years. Pet parents will do anything for their pets, including finding new diets that can help promote better health. Gluten intolerance is common among humans, but it can also affect dogs. Gluten sensitivity is a reaction to a protein found in grains like wheat and rye. While it may not sound like a big deal, it can cause problems within your pet’s gut, leading to chronic symptoms. This article will discuss whether or not the wheat protein is bad for dogs. 

Is Gluten Bad for Dogs?

Gluten in itself is not bad for most dogs. Typically, a dog must have a gluten intolerance for it to be bad for them. If a dog doesn’t have an intolerance your pup can eat gluten. Therefore, the protein is safe for the majority of dogs. On the other hand, some pups can have a food sensitivity to the protein that can cause gut problems. 

It’s important to note that gluten intolerance is not the same as celiac disease, although they share similar symptoms, including stomach pain, bloating, and diarrhea. While gluten relates to food, celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that leads to inflammation that compromises the dog’s ability to absorb nutrients from food. 

There is limited evidence to suggest that dogs can have celiac disease. However, it has been proven they can have food intolerances, including an intolerance to the wheat protein. 

Symptoms of Gluten Intolerance in Dogs

German Shepherd Puppy Dog With Gluten Free Symbol

Gluten intolerance in dogs can have many symptoms that resemble other illnesses and different types of food intolerances, so while you can understand the signs, only your vet can determine whether or not your pup is allergic to the wheat protein. Here are the common signs of an intolerance to the wheat protein

  • Stomach Problems: The most common signs are stomach problems, including diarrhea, gas, and mucus. 
  • Skin Conditions: Gluten intolerance can also cause dry and flaky skin along with rashes. However, these skin problems are also signs of allergies in dogs. No matter what, it is still best to see your local veterinarian to ensure your pup isn’t allergic to their food or specific ingredients.
  • Scratching: Itchy skin is another common symptom because your dog’s skin can become inflamed and dry. Additionally, they may experience inflammation in their paws, resulting in foot chewing. 
  • Changes in Coat Condition: Dogs with an intolerance to the protein may have a dull coat because their bodies aren’t able to absorb nutrients properly. 
  • Weight Loss: Dogs with food allergies or sensitivities may lose weight because they’re not absorbing nutrients properly. If your pup experiences sudden weight loss, take them to the vet immediately as it could indicate signs of serious illness. 
  • Ear Infections: Ear infections are common symptoms of food and environmental allergies. If you notice your dog scratching their ear or there’s a musty odor coming from their ear, they could have a painful ear infection.

Diagnosis of Gluten Allergies in Dogs

German Shepherd Dog Getting Ear Checked By Veterinarian

As you can see the above signs may also indicate different types of illnesses rather than gluten intolerance. However, any combination of symptoms could indicate an intolerance to the protein or allergy. If you believe your pup can’t tolerate the wheat protein, the best thing you can do is take them to the vet. 

Many pet parents might choose to start their dog on a gluten-free diet before visiting the vet. However, if your pup isn’t allergic to the protein, putting them on a diet that doesn’t give them the proper nutrients can be dangerous. Instead, it’s always best to talk to a vet about your concerns. Your vet will likely put your dog on an elimination diet to confirm whether they’re allergic to the protein or another common food allergen.


There is no treatment for the wheat allergy other than putting them on a gluten-free diet. However, depending on your dog’s nutritional needs, it might not be as simple as buying dog food labeled as gluten-free at the pet store. Instead, depending on your dog’s health, you may need to put your pup on a combination diet. For example, overweight dogs with an allergy might need weight management dog food that doesn’t contain gluten so you’ll have to read the ingredients to ensure it’s safe for your pet. 

What to Feed Your Dog

Dog Choosing Between Gluten Kibble And Raw Meat

If your dog has a confirmed gluten intolerance, you should avoid feeding them any food with the wheat protein. It is a common ingredient in many dog foods, so you’ll need to start reading the packages before buying them. Luckily, there are many foods available for pups with food allergies. Always look for high-quality products that use starchy vegetables, such as potatoes instead of grains. 

Do Dogs Need Grains?

Dogs evolved from wolves, so their diets have typically always consisted of small portions of grains. However, their primary food was meat, berries, and grasses. Natural dog diets are actually carcasses, greens and fruits, seeds, and grains. Whether or not they needs grains depends on the individual dog. Some pups might need grain in their diet to maintain a healthy weight or improve their coat health. 

If you want to ensure your dog is getting all the nutrients they need in their diet, it’s important to talk to your vet. 

In Closing?

The short answer is no; gluten is not bad for dogs in general. However, many pups have food intolerances. If you believe your pup is allergic to the wheat protein because they’re experiencing GI problems, talk to your vet. Remember, many symptoms of gluten intolerance are symptoms of underlying health conditions. Any time your dog is experiencing prolonged periods of vomiting or diarrhea, they should be treated by a vet, whether they have a food intolerance or not. 

If the vet rules out any underlying illnesses causing your dog’s health problems, they may suggest doing an elimination diet to determine whether your pup is allergic to the protein or any other ingredient in their food. 

Once your vet determines if your dog has a food allergy, they can recommend the different types of dog food to ensure your dog is getting the right balance of nutrients to live a long, healthy life.

Ashley Nielsen

Ashley Nielsen

Ashley Nielsen earned a B.S. degree in Business Administration Marketing at Point Loma Nazarene University. She is a contributing writer at where she shares knowledge about general business, marketing, lifestyle, or financial tips. During her free time she enjoys being outside, staying active, reading a book, or diving deep into her favorite music.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *