The following article is based on information written by respected veterinarian, John B. Symes, aka Dogtor J who researched gluten and its affect on dog health. Distinctive Dog bakes and promotes dog treats free from gluten (wheat, corn, barley), soy and dairy products. While we believe these products produce negative health affects in dogs, we cannot guarantee the accuracy of Dr.Symes’ information and it in no way replaces the advice and council of your pet’s veterinarian.

If you look at the ingredients of most dog treats and dog food you will notice high amounts of wheat, corn, barley, rice and oats. These, in addition to soy products and molasses are often used as “filler” in dog food and can cause havoc with a dog’s digestive system. If you add up all of these ingredients it greatly surpasses the meat and protein sources contained in most dog food.

As filler, dogs tend to eat more and gain weight. If they are allergic, these ingredients can cause additional bloating and other conditions including itchy, flakey skin, hair loss and lackluster coat. Veterinarian, Dr.John Symes is a “recovered ciliac” and an active evangelist for a non-gluten diet for humans and pets alike.

Dr. Symes suffered from a variety of symptoms including allergies, heart burn, intestinal problems, depression and joint pain. He researched the affects of gluten in the body and found some startling trends. “I launched into two years of intensive research while applying the newly unveiled principles to my patients as well as myself. Miracles started happening around me. Allergies abated, intestinal problems cleared up, older pets became less painful and more active, and yes, even their epilepsy stopped,” said Symes.

Dr. Symes describes a specific stretch of intestine (duodenum) that he believes is the cause of a variety of health problems. Gluten (from grains), casein (from cow milk products), and soy protein are identified as ingredients that adhere to the villi of the duodenum making it difficult to absorb other nutrients.

He explains, “gluten, casein, soy and even corn are all used in industry as adhesives, some even being waterproof.

“Now, imagine these proteins leaving the stomach of a human or their pet. This ‘glue’ leaves the stomach after it has been worked on as much as possible by that organ. Of course, not being a ruminant like a cow or sheep, these foods are not completely broken down any more than the cellulose that they eat that non-ruminants are unable to digest. As simple-stomached animals, our pets and we are not designed to eat grasses like the ruminants do and all of the grains are in the grass family.”

Dr. Symes notes that these sticky substances (wheat, milk, soy, corn and others) then adhere to the villi of the duodenum (which are vital for the absorption of nutrients including vitamins, minerals and calcium). The end result is a reduction in the amount of essential nutrients that are absorbed into the bloodstream.

Lack of these nutrients, especially vitamin C (building block of collagen) and calcium result in problems with cartilage and connective tissue in the body. Conditions like hip dysplasia, elbow and shoulder problems, intervertebral disc syndrome, cruciate ligament ruptures, and even heart valve failure may then arise.

“Imagine that a German shepherd puppy begins eating a wheat, barley, corn, or soy-based diet from the moment it is weaned. If inadequate levels of calcium and vitamin C are absorbed, what are the chances that its hips, elbows, spine, and other cartilaginous structures are going to form properly? I would say “Not good”. Most people familiar with dogs know that this breed has a reputation for horrible hip dysplasia. But, they also have serious allergies and other immune-related disorders. This, of course, is no coincidence. Once it is understood that the allergies form in the area of the gut that is being damaged or coated by the “glue”, it is easy to see why the trouble breeds like the German Shepherd, Cocker Spaniel, Shih Tzu, and others have their ‘genetic’ tendencies such as allergic skin and ear problems, orthopedic abnormalities, intervertebral disc ruptures, and cancers,” said Symes.
For more information on Dr. John Symes (Dogtor J) and his theories visit

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