There are some things out there that I just don’t understand. Everyone has an example of these in your life; something that is fascinating and gets a lot of publicity from what seems like the majority of the population but is not necessarily your cup of tea. For me, it’s the whole Khardashian phenomenon. Why is it that I have to know something about the Khardashians every time I look at a “pop culture” section of a newspaper or a front cover of a magazine when standing in line at the grocery store? If you want to see an example of overkill, take a look at Google when you search for Khardashian (something I stumbled upon when I had to confirm the spelling of their name). I had only typed in a portion of what I was going to when the following results popped up: “Khardashian Kollection (yes, spelled with a “k)”, “Khardashian Kids”, “Kardashian News” and “Khardashian Wedding”. Do people really want to know this much about a TV family who provides no intellectual stimulation whatsoever? I guess so given the amount of publicity but, again, I don’t get it.
There are certain aspects of the gluten free community that also cause me to step back and say “I just don’t get it”. In terms of our family’s longevity in the industry and our familiarity with certain topics, we are still considered “newbies”. I realize that there is research behind some products that maybe I don’t quite understand. One of those products that was recently brought to my attention is gluten free dog food. When my mother-in-law mentioned to me that she had seen gluten free dog food at the store, my first response was a disbelieving, “Really?!?” I questioned how you could know if your dog has a gluten intolerance? What are the symptoms that your dog can exhibit and what can you do to have him/her tested? Before brushing it off as another “I don’t get it” moment, I decided to do some research and found that ten percent of all allergy cases in dogs are food related. Much like in humans, the signs of a food allergy in dogs can present itself in the form of many different symptoms such as ear infections, gastrointestinal issues and even chronic licking of the feet. Dogs can also suffer from food intolerance but I could not find anything that told me how the differences were determined between these and a food allergy. I did discover that there is currently no testing that can help you distinguish what your dog is specifically allergic to and “solutions” are only determined by trial and error diets. So, can you be 100% certain that your dog suffers specifically from gluten intolerance? I don’t think you can.
Which leads me to the question, “Is man’s best friend helping or hurting the legitimacy of the gluten free movement?” As a community, we are still reeling from the media poking fun at our cause and the negative publicity that seems to gravitate towards us like a magnet. Can someone putting their dog on a “gluten free” diet be viewed as just “trendy” and/or “pretentious”? Despite the fact that food allergies in animals are legitimate, I think it can. I think to the uneducated, seeing a gluten free dog food on the shelf is going to be the moment that pushes some naysayers over the edge. It will be the moment that “trend diets” have gone too far. But then I flip the script. I think about how many people love their dogs. For many owners, dogs are their children, can act as a sibling, and are a best friend. No one wants to see a loved one in pain. If a dog has a condition that is only helped by a specific diet, wouldn’t their owners and family members become empathetic to all similar intolerance sufferers? In households where no human has a gluten sensitivity, can their dogs help with the family understanding and awareness of something that affects millions outside of their homes? Again, I think it can. So while my opinion is split and both sides of this argument can be debated, I’m definitely understanding of one thing. A bond between a pet and their family is fiercely strong. If awareness through this bond helps my family directly, or indirectly, I not only “get it”; I welcome it.