Lately one of my biggest passions is that of the pet industry and gluten free products. Those who have followed me for a time understand how close to home this comes. For newcomers, to make a long story short, my combo trained guide, hearing, service dog has severe gluten intolerance most likely caused by years of hypothyroidism neglect (treating lab reports instead of him)
When this all came to a head, I had to make a diet change and pull ALL the supplements in use. We had no idea what was causing his diarrhea or skin outbreak that left him looking like a dog with mange, but it was clearly not parasitic in nature, so I chose the best possible food on the market. His skin mostly cleared, hair began its re-growth, and his diarrhea stopped, but his bowel issues (having to go with no notice) continued as has the issues with his ears and mild skin flares with no other contributing factors, but the food (gluten free home).
It was around a month ago that I began really digging into the pet industry products and their claims of GF status. One by one I learned that not one I have contacted actually tests for gluten yet they seem to be allowed to state their products are GF. Something is wrong with this concept especially when the companies admit that the manufacturing plant also makes gluten foods AND that they use the same equipment to make gluten foods as the gluten free foods.
I consider this an issue for the Truth in Labelling folks, but am unsure just how to proceed to get action. If this happened in the human food industry, the food would be pulled from the market or labelling would be changed until such time as it passed the 20ppm guideline of the FDA (which is still not gluten free by a longshot)
If you don't believe the problem is as big as I am making it sound, do a youtube gluten tests on dog food search from google (or whatever search engine you use), the results will astonish you. Look specifically for ones showing actual gluten testing. One that a friend stumbled upon only one food out of five that they tested was gluten free while every food claimed to be so. This problem ruins lives of animals, but also of their families. When they happen to also be guide or other types of service dogs, it limits their ability to perform their job. A guide dog can not guide when its skin is so broken down that it can't even wear its harness!
Its a tragedy that the changes that were supposed to be implemented after the 2007 death and destruction caused by the pet food industry have never really been implemented. The result of this inaction was to let the pet food industry (and other pet product manufacturers) know that they are in control. It let them see that the FDA doesn't really delve into their unsafe practices without a ton of complaints (or should I say deaths)
I really don't know how to begin the process for action in pet products, but if the reaction Thane had recently to Program which followed milder reactions to Capstar over the summer (after claims from Novartis that both Capstar and Program are gluten free), is any indicator of how severe things can become, I don't think I want to line any more pet industry pockets.
I'm nervous about what lays ahead, but I have to see if its a possibility for Thane. I can't keep hoping that cross contamination did not occur and seeing little flares take place all the time. I'll be testing Thane on his raw diet again very soon. Yes, it costs about double what Nature's Variety costs for him in a month, but I'm just not OK with a company that thinks that their product is GF because the ingredients they use are. They have no concept of cross contamination made quite obvious by their statements to me regarding the use of the same equipment for gluten and GF foods.
To say I am so sick and tired of how little anyone in the pet industry gets gluten intolerance is the understatement of the year.
Somehow action needs to be taken- companies who claim their products are gluten free because they don't add gluten need to be required to perform gluten testing just as much as they are required to test for other impurities in their foods.
If you are reading this blog entry and you know how to get the ball rolling on the pet industry regarding gluten free mislabeling, please submit a comment. It'll help countless animals who suffer needlessly.