Unless you and your pet go through a gluten-free discovery together like my cat, Marble, and I did, it’s unlikely that you’ll consider pet products (food, shampoo, litter, etc) as being a possible source of contamination in your household.
Not too long before my doctor told me I needed to eliminate gluten, Marble started getting really sick. The Vet I took her to at the time decided she was allergic to a protein — but thought it was an animal one. So we switched her from food to food to food (all pricey prescription foods, of course), and while she did best on the rabbit one, she was still having some dry — which had gluten in it.
Her teeth got bad, and despite my repeatedly asking one of the Vets to check her dental health, to clean her teeth, et cetera, I was told she was fine. But she wasn’t. These days? She only has two teeth, and can’t eat any dry food (if she does, she swallows it whole, only to throw it back up within the hour, even though it is gluten free).
And keeping enough wet food in stock? Not cheap. We’re low income, and sometimes more of our grocery money goes to her than us, but I would never give her up. And on gluten free food? She’s done so much better.
As I went gluten free, I realized that my kitty had shared similar symptoms with me, but I hadn’t realized it at first because I was still learning what gluten intolerance really meant for me. Cats, of course, shouldn’t be eating grains anyhow, so having your cat be gluten free makes a lot of sense, and is certainly healthier for them.
A couple of years ago, T and I adopted two rescue kitties (brothers), and while the people who fostered them hadn’t reported any issues with the food they had fed them, these guys went gluten free too in our house. That way, we don’t have to worry about Marble accidentally eating food which will make her sick, and I don’t have to worry about touching gluteny pet food.
Another concern is pet shampoo. Just like people shampoo, many products for your pet’s bath have wheat (or other gluten) protein in them. Vitamins are another risk, as are, sadly, just about every pet product I’ve seen. Even the grass for pets sometimes has wheat (and/or barley) grass mixed in. Sure, I’ve seen the claims that it’s gluten free — but why take that kind of risk? Especially since pet products don’t tend to be certified like people products are.
And cat litter? Seriously? Yup. Ever seen Swheat Scoop litter? Made from wheat. Before I knew about gluten, I tried this litter for Marble. She ate it. Back to Tidy Cat (or Arm & Hammer) we went.
For shampoos, I recommend espree. I haven’t checked out all the ingredients in the dog shampoo, but the cat (and kitten) shampoo is great. No gluten, and no artificial ingredients or harsh chemicals. We tried the silky show cat formula, which has a fragrance called Calming Waters. Despite the shampoo itself having a somewhat strong (although not unpleasant) odor, the first cat to try it just smelled clean (and his fur felt wonderfully soft) after his bath. We were very pleased with this product!
Unless there is something in espree that you or your pet are allergic to, I would recommend that everyone check this out: who needs all those harsh chemicals and unpronounceable ingredients?
While dogs have a wider diet range than cats, giving them a lot of gluten doesn’t make a lot of sense, and cheaper products, especially foods, tend to have many other unsavory ingredients included. Your pet doesn’t need to be eating that, and you definitely don’t need it in your house!
Marble’s preferred wet food is called Soulistic. She likes the ones in gravy the best, but will sometimes eat the ones in gelée (I think it’s more difficult for her to eat the gelée foods with so few teeth). Soulistic is available exclusively through Petco, but this food can be ordered through their site, or through Amazon. It comes in many flavors, and is available in pouches, and small and large cans.
Soulistic has the best ingredient list for its price. If you have a Petco card, you can often find it on sale too. It is grain free, not just gluten free. It also looks like something you could buy in the grocery store yourself – actual meat or seafood (or both), instead of mush or little squares of compressed ingredients.
Before we discovered Soulistic, we purchased Wellness. This is available for cats and dogs. It smells decent, but it comes in mush or those little squares I mentioned above. Our cats all like it, but I find Soulistic healthier. Still, if Wellness is all you can find in your area, it’s still a great choice. Not all of their products are grain free, so read labels very carefully! Our cats also love their treats, and even though the little square treats aren’t completely soft, they are moist enough that Marble can eat them (whole) and not throw them back up as she does with dry food.
There are many other varieties of gluten and/or grain-free pet food; some just for cats, some just for dogs, and some for both. Blue Buffalo, for example, has a wide range of products, but is one brand that all 3 of our cats (even the boys, who are like walking vacuum cleaners), strongly dislike. Also, some Blue Buffalo products contain wheat, so always check every label!