Duke, the Gluten Free Dog! Maybe your pet needs to be Grain Free too?

Baby Duke

Contributed by Shannon Oliver

It all started 5 years ago. I got two beautiful, loving basset hound puppies, a brother and sister from the same litter. I went to visit the breeder with the intention of bringing home the girl (Daisy), however, when I saw the face of the runt of the litter (Duke) I could not go home without him as well!  Everything was normal and wonderful about them until one day when they were about 2 years old; I noticed a funny rash developing on Duke’s tummy.  Obviously being concerned about him, I took him to see his veterinarian and she thought it was allergies. 

We then decided to eliminate any potential irritants.  We changed his laundry detergent to hypoallergenic, his shampoo, anything he came into contact with and then he went on a hypoallergenic food sold at the vet clinic.  He seemed to be OK for a bit, but then would flair up again. The next step was to put him on a single protein based food, so we could see if it was a protein that was making him sick.  Apparently chicken is a really common protein to be allergic to for dogs.  So he went on a fish based food and fish only based treats. 

Again, he did well for a little while and then dramatically took a turn for the worse.  Back to the vet we went, where she put him on antihistamines that he had to take twice daily.  He would do better for a while then flair up worse than ever, he started losing patches of his fur, getting rashes under his armpits, on his tummy, in his ears, etc.  He would go on antibiotics to clear up infections caused by the flair ups and then resume his other course of meds.  The poor guy was not doing well and all they would do is prescribe more pills. 

Duke (Right), with Daisy at the World Basset Hound
Races in Edmonton, 2010 (Duke came last, but thats okay he
seems pretty happy about it))
Finally when we got to the last infection and the last patch of fur he lost, she wanted us to send him to Calgary to see the only vet nearby that did veterinary dermatology for scratch test, allergy testing.  If anyone has a pet and has a pet that has been sick, I don’t have to tell you how much the vet bills were adding up to, never mind sending him to a specialist!!!  Thank goodness for vet insurance…but that is a whole other matter!

I decided not to book the specialist appointment; I decided no more regular vets and drugs for him!  We planned to take him to a holistic vet and place him on a raw food diet and started looking into it. In my research, we went into a naturalistic pet food store one day and saw all these labels for dog food and treats that said GRAIN FREE.  We thought…hey, maybe he is allergic to grains! What it would hurt to try one more thing and take him off grains.  We did it immediately and also changed his treats to only things grain free. 

After a few weeks, he looked dramatically better, his skin cleared up, he was less lethargic and his fur was coming back, all in all a huge difference!  We stopped his meds after a few weeks, to ensure he was doing well and he has been great ever since! I am so glad we self diagnosed him and took him off grains and wished our vet would have thought of it! He is a very happy and healthy guy now.  He is 5 and the only issue we have with feeding him grain free now is that his sister must follow the same diet or else there would be some feeding time arguments!  Occasionally, he does get into something if we don’t watch him closely enough and the rash comes back, but all in all he has been on the road to a healthy recovery for a couple years now.  His current food and treats come from Barkers Dog Club, they are amazing:

The food is made by Acana, made locally in Alberta:

His treats are made by:

Gluten Free Edmonton - A Celiac guide and resource for gluten free information in Edmonton, Alberta


  1. I also like the dog treats from Barkers Dog Club. Good to know that Duke got well from that disease.

  2. Okay, I'm in gorgeous overload here. FAA, dear Vanna. LUV that mini painting, and drooling over everything in your cabinet.
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  3. Oh my gosh my dog is exactly the same with treats and just food. He'll only eat one specific doggy treat and one type of food! You give him something, he takes away then just leaves it somewhere haha. He also won't go out in the rain even though he desperately wants a walk!
    I think our dogs are some sort of twins from another litter haha. That first picture is great by the way!

  4. Baby Duke looks so cute with his stuffed toy.


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