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Cross-contamination concerns on the gluten-free diet: Pet food

Lana Bandoim's picture
Pet food

Whether you have dogs, cats or other pets, you probably spend part of your day handling their food. If you are following the gluten-free diet and must maintain a gluten-free household, then you have to be aware of the risk of cross-contamination with pet food.


A strict gluten-free diet is necessary for celiac disease and gluten intolerance patients. However, cross-contamination is a frequent problem in many households. From kids bringing home school crafts made with wheat flour to neighbors offering gluten-filled candy, it is not easy to maintain a gluten-free (GF) household. If you have pets, you may want to consider the type of pet food you are using and the possibility of cross-contamination.

Cross-contamination concerns on the gluten-free diet

Research shows that cross-contamination with gluten can affect recovery, and may explain why some patients continue to have serious celiac disease symptoms despite being on a gluten-free diet. Although they are aware of the diet requirements after a celiac diagnosis, trace amounts of gluten can be hard to track down in their households. This is why it is crucial to evaluate all potential sources of gluten that may be in the home.

Gluten in pet food

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Many pet food brands have gluten, so it is crucial to read labels. In addition, previous studies have revealed mislabeling is a common problem. Some pet food products that are labeled gluten-free actually contain gluten. Inaccurate ingredient lists make it harder for pet owners to find trace sources of gluten in their homes.

Why you should care about gluten in pet food

In addition to concerns about the nutritional benefits of grains for pets, people on the gluten-free diet are worried about the impact of having gluten products in their homes. If you have celiac disease or gluten intolerance, you have to check the pet food for gluten. Although you are not eating the dog food or cat food, you are still handling the items. Some patients report that their celiac disease symptoms become worse after inhaling gluten-filled pet food or touching it.

Studies indicate that pet food with gluten cannot penetrate the skin, but there is still a risk of contamination. For example, crumbs from the pet food can spread throughout the household and contaminate other areas. In addition, your dog or cat may lick your face or hands after consuming the gluten-filled food. Moreover, some patients can inhale the dust from the pet food that contains gluten.

Should you switch to gluten-free pet food?

Ultimately, you have to decide if gluten-free pet food is the best option for your household and animals. You may want to discuss the switch to GF pet food with your veterinarian and find a brand that works best for your pets. Although changing to gluten-free pet food will eliminate a potential source of cross-contamination with gluten in your home, you still have to read labels on other products and follow a strict GF diet. Gluten can be hidden in many products, so it is important to stay vigilant.