These are excellent and important questions. In my experience, anyone sensitive to gluten needs to know this because they often forget about the animals in their home. Pets can be one of the most commonly overlooked and problematic “areas” in the home aside from your own kitchen that is surprisingly gluten-filled.
Gluten Free Pet Food Can Keep You From Getting Glutened
I realize you aren’t eating the bags of cat or dog food, but have you ever looked at the ingredients? Do you make sure to wash your hands after handling the bags or even the food itself?
Have you checked your cat litter? Some are made entirely from wheat that your cat can easily track everywhere in your home.
How about your dog’s treats? Or your fish food?
Now before you think I’ve gone overboard, hear me out.
When you’ve got an elevated immune system and damage still happening to your body from gluten exposure, the consequences aren’t good. If you ask just about any expert I’ve had the pleasure to interview on my podcast, small amounts of gluten do impact your health. The cumulation of exposures is what takes it’s toll leading to declining health, more autoimmune issues and even hormone problems.
So when I realized that my animals were glutening me, I decided to make specific changes to protect my health (and simultaneously their health). Look, I love my pets (2 goofball cats, to be exact) very much and I feel like they are an integral part of my family. But I can’t risk having my immune system constantly on overdrive and landing myself in Adrenal Fatigue all over again.
From my own experience, here’s two really good reasons you should suspect your pets of harboring hidden gluten and what you can do about it:
Pet food and Pet Care Products can be Gluten Bombs!
The typical pet food (think dog, cat and even fish) is typically made with glutenous ingredients like wheat. To figure out just how often gluten showed up in this arena, I spent 2 hours in a local Petco wandering around reading labels of whatever I could find. The cheaper brands seemed to use wheat and other gluten-bearing grains more often than the expensive brands.
I found that:
- Wet and dry cat and dog foods had gluten.
- Dog chews and even some cat treats were made with gluten.
- Some fish foods are made of gluten.
- Some cat and dog shampoos were also made with gluten.
- And let’s not forget the cat litter that’s completely made of wheat from Swheat Scoop. (Please don’t ever use this product, my gluten-free friends.)
How You Can Get Glutened By Your Pets…
If you forget to wash your hands after handling the bags or containers of glutenous food, your pet’s bowl or even the food itself, your hands are contaminated making everything you touch… contaminated.
For the cat lovers — they eat and then they spend lots of time cleaning themselves directly after eating. I’m really not in love with the idea of handling an animal that’s covered in saliva mixed with glutenous food, let alone having the cat roam all over… including trying to lay on my pillow when I’m not looking.
Dogs eat and then try to lick you… again with the saliva issue.
And don’t forget how much cats will inevitably track their litter through your home. The idea of my cats digging around in wheat and crawling all over our furniture and our bed with gluteny paws just doesn’t sit well with me especially since there is a real chance that you can get sick from inhaling gluten.
That’s why no matter whether you think I’m overblowing this issue or not, I will stick to the gluten-free alternatives out there. (And yes, they do exist!)
Animals don’t eat grains. Period.
Have you ever witnessed a cat climb a corn stalk and start munching on an ear of corn? I haven’t.
This visual might seen silly to you, but if you look at one of the most common ingredients in dry food, it’s corn. GMO corn, to be exact. Animals digestive systems aren’t built to break down corn and other grains. I don’t care how much your vet charges you for that very expensive corn-based food that’s suppose to do all sorts of fancy things. Bottom line? Animals don’t naturally eat corn.
I recognize that budgetary issues may be a concern (as grain-free food is more expensive), so pick and choose your battles according to what you can do. But at the end of the day, do your best to minimize your potential exposure to gluten. From there, the sky’s the limit as to what else you can do to provide a healthy environment for your pets.
How to De-Gluten Your Pets
1. Read labels on any and all pet products you bring into your home. Use my easy-to-remember BROWS acronym to initially scan through to spot obvious gluten. If you’re not sure, contact the company directly.
2. Look for a “Gluten-Free” or “Grain-Free” label on the products you buy. My cats actually got healthier after we switched their diets to accommodate me, so it turned out to be a win-win for everyone.
3. Beware of natural cat litters. Again, read your labels and call the company if you aren’t sure. Though I try to keep things as natural as possible, I also know that wheat and glutenous grains make for cheap, “natural” products. We stick with pine-based litters so that I’m not exposed to gluten while the cats aren’t exposed to chemicals.
As I said, do what you can and what makes the most sense for you. If you’re still having problems with your health and you’ve not considered the gluten from pet products, I believe it’s worth exploring. It’s helped me and clients whom I’ve worked with.