Understanding Wheat & Wheat Gluten in Pet Foods

At Van Isle Veterinary Hospital, we often hear people say – “I thought animals can’t digest gluten or Why would I feed my dog or cat wheat or grains?! They wouldn’t eat it in the wild”.

While the latter may be true, we can’t forget that our pets no longer live “in the wild” – we have domesticated them.  As humans, we also used to live “in the wild” and ate as such – but we too have become domesticated mammals. One of the most important aspects of what we all eat is digestibility – in other words – what we eat is actually utilized and digested by our bodies in a beneficial way.  Pure proteins, often advertised as being the main ingredient in wilderness-type diets, are not always easily absorbed by our domesticated pets which can cause for gastro intestinal stress such as:

Most would agree that when we have to pick up our pet’s poops or when our cats are using a litter box, the last thing we want is smelly, sticky poops! What we do want for the health of our pets, is a diet that is easy to digest and utilize the nutrients we feed them.

However, one might now ask:

What about gluten allergies or celiac disease? I mean, if we can’t digest gluten how can our pets?

This is where we need to look at what wheat and wheat gluten is and is it actually beneficial and digestible? Wheat and wheat gluten has been under examination for quite some time – mainly because of the link to celiac disease found in individuals whom must avoid gliadin – a glycoprotein found in gluten sources.  True celiac disease only affects approx. 1 in 100 people (1% of the human population) however we often hear of people who suffer from a gluten sensitivity.  This is more of a concern for those with higher risk factors such as diabetes, blood disorders or for those whom have a genetic predisposition for the condition.  In dogs, gluten-sensitivity is quite rare and is from an intolerance to gliadin but is not an allergy to gluten and consumption of wheat gluten will not cause your pet to develop the disease. Gluten-sensitivity in animals is also rare and seems to affect certain predisposed breeds such as the Irish Setter.

“Should I be worried about gluten in my pet’s food?”

In pet food, gluten is used in a dried powder form and is an excellent protein source with 99% digestibility by the small intestine.  This minimizes the delivery of undigested proteins to the large bowel which reduces indigestion, fecal odour and flatulence thus preventing toxic effects on the mucosa of the colon which helps to lubricate the passage of food. Wheat gluten is a valuable source of protein, it is low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium and has an amino acid profile that is complimentary to meat protein profiles allowing for nutritional precision – hence why it can be found in most veterinary exclusive diets.  You can rest assured that years of research lie behind the benefits of wheat and wheat gluten and they can be an ideal ingredient for the specific health needs of cats and dogs of all ages, shapes and sizes!

By Heidi – Van Isle Veterinary Hospital



Get a Cupcake and Support BC Animals in Need During Treat Week (Feb 24 - Mar 1, 2020)

Van Isle Veterinary Hospital is super excited to be hosting our 4th annual cupcake day fundraiser! BCSPCA celebrates “Treat Week” across the Province from Feb 24th – March 1st 2020 where business, pet owners and animal lovers can bake up a storm and sell treats with the proceeds going to BC animals in need.

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Last updated: July 5, 2021

Dear Clients,

At this time, we will be maintaining our current health and safety policies as the province entered the next stage of on July 1, 2021.

Note: We will not be making changes to our health and safety policy until our staff have had the opportunity to receive their second vaccine.


This includes vaccines, wellness exams, blood work, spays and neuters, dental services, and more!

As you can imagine, we have a significant backlog of surgeries and wellness/vaccine exams to catch up on and we will be working hard over the next several weeks to do just that. We want to thank everyone in advance for your patience while we work through this. Although restrictions have been lifted, our health and safety protocols have not. It is important we continue to follow the guidelines set out by Worksafe BC and social distance our large team as much as possible. This means although we can offer these elective services, we are doing much fewer during the day than we were pre-COVID.


As of July 7, 2021, we are excited to invite our clients back into the exam rooms! We have put some important safety measures in place to help keep our clients and our team safe.


The use of our online store for easy ordering, payment and delivery of our pet's food, flea and tick medications. Orders over $100 can be delivered to your home for free! CLICK HERE


During the first 8 weeks of COVID, we were operating as a 24-hour facility to better serve our community and to maintain social distancing within our team. However, as the COVID-19 situation changes, so do we!

Our team of doctors felt it was important to get back to performing your pet's much needed regular services. In order to do so safely, we had to once again change the way we do business. 

As such, effective October 6, 2020, we will no longer be available for after-hours, on call services between midnight and 7:00 am. After-hours emergency care will be referred to Central Island Veterinary Emergency Hospital between the hours of midnight - 7:00 am. They can be reached at 250-933-0913.

We will continue to be available until midnight for your call-in, after hours needs.

Our regular hours of operation remain the same:

Monday - Friday: 8:00 am - 8:00 pm

Saturday & Sunday: 8:00 am - 4:30 pm

We are all looking forward to this next stage in our Province’s reopening and the future is looking bright! Thank you for helping us make this transition as safe as possible, so our team can be at its best and continue to look after your pet!

- Your dedicated team at Van Isle Veterinary Hospital