Wheat Sensitive Enteropathy in Dogs
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Wheat Sensitive Enteropathy in Dogs

Dogs
Health & Safety

Wheat Sensitive Enteropathy seems to affect one breed in particular namely the Irish Setter, but fortunately it is a rare disorder that parent dogs can pass on to their offspring. Often referred to a Gluten-sensitive enteropathy, the condition sees dogs developing a sensitivity to any food that contains gluten which is found in many grains including wheat and although one breed in particular is affected, any dog can develop the condition during the course of their lives.

Signs to Watch Out For

Dogs with the disorder display quite obvious symptoms of there being something wrong so it is quite easy to spot symptoms when they flare up. The typical signs could include the following:

  • Dogs experience mild cases of diarrhoea
  • They have trouble gaining any weight
  • A loss of weight
  • The Causes
  • Why Irish Setters are so prone to suffering from the condition remains a bit of a mystery. What is known is that when fed wheat or other grains to a dog with the condition, it just makes the condition that much worse.
  • Diagnosing the Problem
  • A vet would need to have a dog's full medical history and be told how the onset of any symptoms first manifested themselves. The vet would carry out a full physical examination of a dog suspected of suffering from Gluten-sensitive enteropathy and they would typically recommend doing the following tests:
  • A complete blood count
  • A biochemistry profile
  • A urinalysis
  • An electrolyte panel

Should the vet find that a dog's serum folate concentrations are abnormally low, it's a good indication that they are not able to absorb the food they ingest correctly. To confirm a diagnosis, the vet would carry out an intestinal biopsy. They would do this by using an endoscope which they would put down a dog's throat and which would go right down to their intestines. A vet might even suggest doing a laparotomy which is more invasive as it involves surgery.

Dogs suffering from the condition would have a build-up of intraepithelial lymphocytes which is a clear indication of them experiencing an immune reaction to all foods that contain gluten. The results of the tests would also show if a dog can absorb food they eat correctly.

Treatment Options

Once a vet has confirmed that a dog is suffering from Gluten-sensitive enteropathy, they would advise feeding them food that is gluten-free and luckily today, there is a good choice of commercially produced dog food that's specifically formulated for dogs suffering from the condition. The other alternative is to feed a dog a home-made diet that's totally gluten free making sure that all the vitamins and minerals they need to remain healthy are added to their food.

Living with a Dog with the Condition

Providing dogs are not fed any food that contains gluten which includes commercially produced food known to contain wheat and other grains, they can live normal, healthy lives. A vet would want keep a close eye on a dog with the condition which means regular health checks every six months or so at which time a vet would check a dog’s serum folate levels to make sure things are still okay.

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