Wheat gluten has been suspected as a possible cause of the recent epidemic of kidney failure and death of dogs and cats from pet food. I will highlight just two of numerous publications dating to the early 1900’s published on wheat gluten toxicity in cattle and dogs. A 1948 American Journal of Physiology article documents experiments trying to prevent seizures in dogs fed wheat gluten. This research was prompted by a twenty-five year history of theories about the cause of a condition called “canine hysteria” or “running fits”. Death, blindness, seizures and ataxic neurological symptoms are described in dogs fed meal made with wheat gluten. The symptoms are eerily similar to what have been described recenlty in dogs and cats eating pet food containing wheat gluten. Many of the symptoms are also identical to those experienced by humans with untreated celiac disease and gluten sensitivity.
Dating back to the early 1900’s adverse health were known to occur from the nutritional deficiencies of cattle feed exclusively containing wheat but not corn. In 1924, researchers from University of Wisconsin published their experience dating back to 1907 of the adverse affects of wheat gluten fed heifer cows. Without added supplementation of cod liver oil, bone meal and common salt, heifer cows had delayed or failed onset of menstrual cycle, pregnancy difficulties, miscarriages, premature births, calves that died shortly after birth, growth failure, neuromuscular impairment including difficulty walking, blindness and death. I am amazed and shocked to see problems related to wheat gluten recognized in veterinary medicine just like I see and hear about daily as a gastroenterologist in those suffering from undiagnosed or delayed diagnosed celiac disease and gluten sensitivity.
Over fifty years ago, toxicity of wheat gluten was reported in dogs, around the same time Dr. Dicke was making the link of gluten to celiac disease in children.
Now fast-forward to the current pet food related deaths and look at the photos showing no visible sign of decay or mold on two Twinkies after five days into the Food Doc Twinkie Experiment. One was placed wet in a sealed Ziploc bag and has been kept in a cool dark closet in my basement. The other is out in the open on a cabinet in light in my home office. Add an article from 2006 describing research indicating feasibility of using wheat gluten to create protein fibers for clothing. The introduction notes that wheat gluten is widely available and sells for 50 cents a pound while wool and silk cost between $5-14 per pound. Should we be eating a plant protein proven over 50-80 years ago to cause neurological problems including ataxia and seizures; blindness, reproductive problems and death in cattle and dogs? If you have any doubts start looking into the illnesses linked to gluten and the health benefits of a gluten-free diet. Also, follow along my photos of the Twinkies. Maybe we really shouldn't be eating foods containing a protein that may be preventing Twinkies and bread from molding but lethal to insects and pets and resistant enough to water and digestive enzymes to make clothing? Based on my personal and professional experience I choose and frequently adocate a gluten free diet despite tests that are negative for celiac disease. Certainly, my wife and patients with celiac disease and many others without celiac disease I see weekly with similar symptoms are responding to a gluten free diet. This reinforces my belief that wheat gluten is likely toxic to most humans and animals. What do you think? Let me know by commenting on this post.
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“New observations and a reinterpretation of old observations on the nutritive value of the wheat plant.” Hart EB and Steenbock H. The Journal of Biological Chemistry. 1924. 315-322.
“Effect of administering agenized amino acids and wheat gluten to dogs.” Newell, GW et al. American Journal of Physiology. 1948; 152 (3):637-644.
“Novel protein fibers from wheat gluten”. Reddy N and Yang Y. Biomacromolecules 2007; 8:638-643.
Washingtonpost.com: Twinkies, 75 years and counting. Candy Sagon. Wednesday, April 13, 2005. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A46062-2005Apr12.html