What do the following signs and symptoms suggest to you?
• IBS and severe diarrhea
• Weight loss and failure to thrive
• Skin rashes and hair loss
• Joint pain and arthritis
• Low energy and brain fog
• Autoimmune thyroid disease
• Autoimmune adrenal disorder
• Eating grass
Maybe those of you (us) with celiac disease don’t munch on grass (the lawn-mowing kind, not the marijuana kind), but I bet many of you with gluten intolerance can relate to some of what’s mentioned above.
This is my guy Fairbanks. Handsome fellow, don’t you agree? Big, strong, healthy, independent, full of energy (excuse me while I gush and overdo the photos).
Seriously, is that a good looking dog, or what?
He almost died a few years ago. He was so close to that big dog park in the sky that he couldn’t even lift his head off the ground. He went from 130 pounds to well under 100 and had a wide variety of serious health problems. The vet couldn’t figure it out and I wondered if he was silently suggesting that it might be time to let Fairbanks go. But, being the “care-taker” that I am (not to mention, nutritionist), I wasn’t ready to let that happen. To make a long and convoluted story short, I became convinced he had the canine version of gluten intolerance.
After several blood tests and vet-to-various-vet discussions, it was determined that he had some autoimmune conditions (sound familiar?). I went along with the thyroid and adrenal meds, as he was one paw in the grave, but I also shifted him to a totally grain free diet and added Nordic Naturals cod liver oil to his daily food. He now eats only meat, fish and some vegetables. He chews on raw beef and bison bones and eats selected people-food leftovers. It took several months, but he’s come back to life, regained his weight and as long as he he isn’t exposed to gluten, he does okay for an old guy (he’s almost 11). If he ingests gluten (via a random dog biscuit), he immediately starts showing signs of celiac disease. Rashes, low energy, brain fog, joint pain, allergies.
The rashes show up on his face (I’m wondering if he has doggie DH). The low energy and joint pain are evident on our daily dog walks. You’re probably wondering how I know he has brain fog. He’s my most favorite special dog in the world, I just know. I call it dogheimers. Or, maybe he’s just meditating, but whatever it is, it accompanies exposure to gluten.
Dogs aren’t supposed to be eating low-grade gluten, corn, soy, dairy and other cheap byproducts pressed into nasty little nuggets. If Fairbanks’ behavior (he’s a backyard squirrel hunter) is any indication of his culinary evolution, they’re supposed to be eating birds, bunnies, squirrels and other small animals. If he was in a pack of Alaskan dogs, I’d say maybe caribou or salmon, but definitely not gluten and soy.
Once I figured out the food he needed to thrive, I found a wonderful local pet shop that carries high-quality, grain-free dog food. I rotate his proteins by purchasing two different bags each time I stock up. One time it might be fish and potato or duck and sweet potato. The next time it might be bison, lamb or venison.
Those of you who’ve been following this blog know I belong to Grant Farms CSA program and support my local farmers. Well, Andy Grant is drifting into the pet food business (sort of), so pastured, organic beef bones and organ meat will also be part of Fairbanks’ diet. Perfect. Join a CSA and you and your pet will be healthier and you’ll be supporting the “eat local” movement in new and wonderful ways. Better for your health, your pet’s health and the health of the environment. As it should be.
Peace, love and gluten-free dogs!
Okay, okay. If you insist, here’s one more picture. Wasn’t he the cutest puppy ever?!