Wheat:Ingredients and Their Use in Our Pet Foods

Food For Thought™ Technical Bulletin No. 38R

Innovative Research in Dog and Cat Nutrition™

Why Use Wheat?

What is a grain used as a high-quality carbohydrate source in dry dog and cat foods and biscuits. It provides energy for daily activity, as well as processing characteristics for the food. Iams research has shown that including wheat in a complete and balanced diet resulted in a moderate glycemic response in dogs and cats, lower in general than that observed when a rice-based diet was fed. 1 , 2

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Misconception About Food Allergies

A common misconception is that feeding wheat causes food allergies. The facts are:

  • The pet must have a hypersensitivity to the food or ingredient. It is an adverse reaction of an individual animal to proteins in the diet.
  • Food allergies are rare in animals and account for a very low percentage of allergic reactions in dogs and cats.
  • If your pet has a food allergy, he is most likely allergic to one ingredient or a combination of ingredients in his diet. In a US study of food-allergic dogs, the two common pet food ingredients that most often caused an allergic reaction were beef and soy.3
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Gluten-Sensitive Enteropathy

Gluten (a protein found in wheat) is responsible for wheat-sensitive enteropathy, occasionally found in Irish Setters from the United Kingdom. Gluten enteropathy of Irish Setters is a malabsorption syndrome, which responds to removal of wheat (gluten) from the diet. This condition is very rate, and the reason some dogs develop it is not yet clear.

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  • Iams research has shown that some products are best formulated using a combination of carbohydrate sources, including wheat. Such a combination offers optimal carbohydrate digestibility and helps maintain healthy energy levels. It is unlikely that wheat will provoke an allergic reaction in most pets.
  • For pets with food allergies, veterinarians can prescribe one of the Iams Veterinary Diets™. This line of products, available only through veterinarians, includes special diets that do not contain common ingredients like wheat.
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1 Sunvold GD. The role of novel nutrients in managing obesity. In: Recent Advances in Canine and Feline Nutrition, Vol II: 1998 Iams Nutrition Symposium Proceedings. Carey DP, Norton SA, Bolser SM, eds. Wilmington, OH: Orange Frazer Press, 1998; 123-133.

2 Bouchard GF. Effect of dietary carbohydrate source on posprandial plasma glucose and insulin concentration in cats. In: Recent Advances in Canine and Feline Nutrition, Vol III: 2000 Iams Nutrition Symposium Proceedings. Reinhart GA, Carey DP eds. Wilmington, OH: Orange Frazer Press, 2000; 91-101.

3 Jeffers JG. Responses of dogs with food allergies to a single-ingredient dietary provocation. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 1996 vol 209(3): 608-611