Gluten and Corn Sensitivity in Boston Terrier Dogs

Gluten and Corn Sensitivity in Boston Terrier Dogs

Boston Terriers with any type of allergy typically experience atopic dermatitis. Learn more here.

Boston Terriers are more susceptible than most other breeds to atopic dermatitis, a skin condition caused by allergy, according to Bio-Medical Services, a pet allergy testing lab. This condition can be caused by allergies to any of a variety of substances, including pollens, dust mites, household molds, and various foods and food additives. Meat proteins are among the most common causes of food allergies in dogs, but grains such as corn, and gluten, a protein derived from a variety of grains, also are frequent causes.

Atopic Dermatitis

Boston terriers with any type of allergy, including food allergies, typically experience atopic dermatitis. This condition presents itself as red, itchy, flaking skin. You may first become aware of it when you see your terrier chewing or licking constantly in an attempt to get relief. Atopic dermatitis can lead to secondary skin infections and cause hair loss and thickening of the skin. All of this is very uncomfortable for your Boston terrier and requires treatment by a veterinarian, who will try to determine what causes your dog's symptoms.

Food Allergy Symptoms

Signs of food allergies in Boston terrier dogs include not only atopic dermatitis, but also frequent ear infections, vomiting, diarrhea and flatulence. Boston terriers have sensitive stomachs. A food allergy or intolerance can cause your dog to be gassy. According to Dog Channel, the top two causes of flatulence in Boston terriers are corn and soy, grains that are frequently found in commercial dry dog foods.

Possible Allergens

Any ingredient in a diet is a potential allergen, including the meat protein, the carbohydrates, and the wide variety of other ingredients. Both corn and wheat are among known potential causes of food allergies in Boston terriers, according to the Boston Terrier Rescue of East Tennessee. Because gluten is usually derived from these grains, it can also be the cause of food allergies. Sometimes gluten is also derived from rice or barley, but it is best to eliminate it from your dog's diet no matter what the source if you are concerned about food allergies. Neither ingredient is essential for your Boston terrier's nutritional needs, which include animal proteins, fats, fruits, vegetables, vitamins and minerals. For carbohydrates, whole grains like whole oats or brown rice can provide your dog with needed energy and fiber.


If you suspect your Boston terrier may have a food allergy, contact the breeder you purchased the dog from if possibile. According to Bio-Medical Services, if one of your dog's parents has an allergy to corn or gluten, your dog has a 30 percent chance of being allergic to these ingredients. The risk increases to 60 percent if both parents have this sensitivity. The breeder may be able to tell you whether your dog's parents have food allergies. This information may help you narrow down the potential causes of your Boston terrier's skin problems.

Elimination Diets

To begin treating food allergy symptoms in your Boston terrier, your veterinarian probably will recommend an elimination diet. A hypoallergenic food is substituted for your Boston terrier's usual fare. Most hypoallergenic diets are made for short-term use, but some are balanced for long-term maintenance. These diets don't contain corn, wheat or ingredients derived from them. Diets used for elimination testing typically contain a protein source your dog has not previously been exposed to, such as venison, rabbit, fish or duck, and one equally unfamiliar carbohydrate, such as potato or quinoa. If after eight to 12 weeks on the special diet your dog's skin has returned to normal or the gastrointestinal upset has ended, then food allergy was the probable cause of the symptoms.

Feeding the Allergic Dog

To determine what specific food causes allergic symptoms in your Boston terrier, ingredients now can be added back into the dog's diet one at a time until the dog's symptoms return. Once the causes are determined, those ingredients are permanently eliminated from your dog's diet. Study the ingredients list of all foods you give to your dog, including treats. If your Boston terrier is sensitive to gluten or corn, seek foods labelled "gluten free" or "corn free."

Multiple Allergies

Boston terriers can suffer from a variety of allergies, including contact, inhalant and food allergies. Some dogs can experience several allergies simultaneously. When you start a food trial for your dog, you may also need to eliminate use of scented dog shampoos, laundry detergents, carpet shampoos or household cleaners in your dog's environment. Use a topical flea solution recommended by your veterinarian to prevent flea allergies.

Your veterinarian may perform a skin test to determine exactly what is causing the allergy or allergies; such testing is especially useful for dogs who react to multiple allergens.

To provide relief for your dog while you try to find the cause of the dog's allergies, bathe your Boston terrier in shampoos containing soothing ingredients such as oatmeal.

Celiac Disease

Similar in symptoms and treatment to food allergy or intolerance, celiac disease affects some Boston terriers. This condition is caused by an intolerance of any kind of gluten, regardless of source. This autoimmune condition affects the way your dog absorbs nutrients from foods containing gluten, because the body produces antibodies in reaction to the substance, according to VetInfo. Your dog can become malnourished from celiac disease, and then must be switched to a totally gluten-free diet, including all treats. Diagnosis through blood tests and a biopsy of your Boston terrier's intestine are needed to confirm such a condition.

What are most Boston terriers allergic to?

Soy and corn are the common food allergies found in Boston terriers. They are also prone to allergic reactions to wheat gluten and other food additives. Besides these food sources, you should keep your pet safe from dust mites, fleas, pollen, perfume, grass, medication, and household cleaning products. Any of these substances may trigger allergic reactions in this breed. Each time a pet eats food with these ingredients or sustains exposure to environmental triggers, allergic symptoms occur due to the reaction of antibodies with antigens. Mark Thirkell, a veterinarian who graduated from the Royal Veterinary College, notes that dog allergies are caused by particular proteins rather than brands. If your Boston terrier has a sensitivity to a certain ingredient, it will get in trouble when you feed any product or brand containing it. You should take note of the specific allergen and avoid it.

Do Boston terriers have sensitive stomachs?

Yes, sensitive stomachs are a common problem with the Boston terrier breed. The most common reasons for sensitivity are food allergies and gas problems. Food allergies arise when a dog’s body reacts to a specific food that causes digestion problems. However, they are not the same as food intolerance. When your dog suffers from intolerance, it may experience vomiting and diarrhea. On the other hand, allergies may cause a lack of appetite, skin problems, and itching. Either way, you should consult your vet and try changing the dog food. Consider a prescription diet formulated for dogs with sensitivities and allergies to keep your Boston terrier happy and allergy-free. You may also look for products without specific ingredients your pet is allergic to. 

Is corn good for Boston terriers?

According to the American Kennel Club, dogs can eat corn safely, provided you offer it in moderation. Many commercial dog foods contain it as an ingredient. However, corn on the cob is not safe for dogs because the cob is indigestible. Also, ensure that your pet is not allergic to it before feeding a product with corn as an ingredient. Boston terriers are susceptible to food allergies, and corn may be one of the culprits causing them. You may notice signs like stomach issues or skin reactions after feeding a corn-based product to your Boston terrier. That’s when you should talk to your veterinarian and try an elimination diet to understand what does not work for your pet. Brittany Schott, a veterinary nurse, suggests seeing an allergist if food trials do not uncover the allergies for your pet. They will provide allergy testing if required to understand whether your terrier is intolerant to corn, gluten, or any other environmental or food substance. 

Is gluten-free better for dogs?

While gluten may be harmless for dogs, it does not go well with the digestive system of some dogs. Like humans, they may experience discomfort from consuming it. Some dogs may even have celiac disease, while others may suffer only from a mild gluten allergy. In either case, any food containing gluten can be hard on your pet’s stomach. It can cause symptoms such as bloating, flatulence, stomach ache, hair loss, scratching, skin inflammation, and diarrhea. Seeing your pet struggle with these signs is painful for a pet parent. The good thing is that you can find gluten-free food products for dogs with sensitivities. Switching to these products makes sense, no matter how mild the allergy is. 

What is the best food for Boston Terriers?

The ideal diet for a Boston terrier should have high-quality protein, healthy fats, minerals, vitamins, and fiber from vegetables and berries. Look for products with high-quality animal-based protein sources like chicken, lamb, beef, duck, fish, and eggs. Also, consider your pet’s energy needs and life stage to choose a balanced and appropriate diet. Raw food is considered the best diet for a Boston terrier. Besides keeping your pet healthy and happy, it can prevent canine health issues such as obesity, digestive problems, joint conditions, and dental issues. Additionally, remember to avoid any diet products containing ingredients that trigger allergies in your pet. 

How do I keep my Boston terrier healthy?

As a pet parent, you should do your bit to keep your Boston terrier healthy. Begin with a balanced diet, avoiding ingredients it is sensitive to and ensuring consistency in its feeding schedules. Avoid giving people food because it can be harmful. According to Abby Breslyn, a vet assistant, several foods fit for human consumption are not safe for dogs. Even something as harmless as onions and grapes can harm your furry companion.  Besides providing a healthy diet, ensure regular exercise for your pet to keep it in good shape. Go the extra mile with dental care because Boston terriers are prone to tooth troubles. 

More on Food Allergies

Is Your Dog Allergic To Certain Food?
Food Allergies In Dogs And Cats
What Are Hypoallergenic Dog Foods?

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