Wheat gluten meal is a plant-based protein concentrate found in a wide variety of dog and cat foods. It acts as a meat substitute, binding the kibble together, and artificially increasing the protein content of the food. Basically, gluten is what’s left over from certain grains such as wheat, barley, rye and other wheat-type cereal grains that had all its starchy carbohydrate washed out of it. The rubbery protein residue that’s left is the gluten.
Due to its high concentration, feeding food with wheat gluten meal can cause the animal severe allergy or sensitivity to gluten (gluten intolerance) over an extended period. In most cases, it is just a sensitivity or intolerance (as opposed to a true allergy), due to the bioaccumulation of gluten in the body. Because dogs and cats are true carnivores, they have trouble digesting and eliminating wheat gluten and other heavy, plant-based proteins. This allows the gluten to accumulate in the body, eventually causing the pet to react in a hypersensitivity reaction.
In order to better understand the development of an intolerance or sensitivity, let’s take an empty glass of water as an example. Every time you consume gluten add a little bit of water to the glass. Over time the glass will overflow causing a food intolerance and /or sensitivity due to the bioaccumulation of gluten in the body.
Gluten is one of the most common food allergens in dogs and cats. There are over 250 symptoms of gluten intolerance, including severe itchiness, red skin, infected ears, watery eyes, anal itching, bloating, abdominal discomfort / pain, constipation or diarrhea, and many, many more.
Wheat gluten is normally an inexpensive by-product of human food processing and used primarily as a binder and has little nutritional value. It is a very common binder used in the vast majority of treats and dry kibbles found in the big box stores.
The Most Common Problems with Feeding Wheat Gluten Meal
- Feeding wheat gluten meal can cause your dog or cat to develop severe allergies or sensitivity to gluten over an extended amount of time.
- Wheat gluten meal can raise the protein reported on a food label. So, manufacturers frequently add them to a formula to make a product look better than it really is.
Keep in mind that when you change your pet’s diet from a cheaper brand that contains wheat or corn gluten to a high-quality, all-natural, grain and gluten-free diet, that it can take up to 6-8 weeks for his body to purge all the garbage – including the accumulated wheat gluten – from his body. So if you start your pet on a high quality diet recommended by us, don’t despair when he isn’t doing better 5 days later. Naturopathic medicine and nutrition is a lifelong endeavor, the benefits accumulate over time. So have patience.
Next week we’ll discuss Corn Gluten Meal, which isn’t even a true gluten at all. Stay tuned. 🙂