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Should you get a gluten detection dog?

Are you struggling with being contaminated and getting sick from gluten exposure?

Do you have to take days off of work and leaving the house due to your symptoms?

Do you feel like you just can't ever get a break?

You might have started looking into gluten detection dogs to help solve this problem.

But not every celiac or person with a gluten allergy is the right fit for a gluten detection dog!

I have celiac disease myself, and it was a big decision for me to add this task to my dog's repertoire.

I want to share several considerations for you to think about before you make the investment and decision to train a gluten detection dog.

1. Have you met with a celiac-specific dietitian?

 Before making any decisions that may impact your nutrition (even something like a detection dog), it is very wise to meet with a celiac or allergy specific dietitian or doctor.

Many celiacs aren't fully aware of how to read food labels, what the labels mean, and what they really need to focus on for their health. 

Adding a detection dog before learning these things can be an added cost and stressor that is unnecessary or even dangerous if you are already malnourished.

If you are looking for a celiac specific dietitian to consult with, I recommend Tayler Silvferduk, RDN.

She has an amazing course, one on one instruction, and even free resources throughout her website and Instagram. We work together to help clients understand if a detection dog would be a good fit for you.

I am not compensated in any way for recommending Tayler. :)

2. Do you have extreme food anxiety?

Many celiacs do have some level of food anxiety due to symptoms from contamination.

For some, a gluten detection dog allows them to relax and recover in safety.

For others, a gluten detection dog can actually cause them to feel more unsafe and nervous about everything.

This is a conversation you could have with your dietitian or therapist to better help you decide how a detection dog might impact your anxiety.

For some, it's not worth the extra anxiety. For others, it's the key to recovery.

3. Do you like dogs?

And I mean do you REALLY like dogs?

Can you see yourself exercising your dog for at least 30 minutes per day and dedicating yourself to training for at least two years?

Can you see yourself with dog hair on your clothes 24/7 and the extra vacuuming?

Can you see yourself adding a dog into your everyday life?

Can you handle common behavior struggles your dog may have?

Service dogs aren't robots and may deal with things like excitement, pulling on the lead, barking in the home, and any other dog behavior throughout their lives!

Can you see yourself picking up poop daily and dealing with the *messier* side of dog handling?

Will you be able to handle and care for your dog when they are sick?

Are you comfortable taking time off of work or not using your dog's detection work when they are sick?

These are all things to consider before deciding that a dog is the way to go. Dogs are not a light commitment. But they are also incredible, loving beings that add a lot to our lives!

4. Do you have social anxiety?

If so, having a service dog in public may be more detrimental than helpful. 

This is another question to speak about with your therapist, or even just sitting down with a trusted friend or family member to talk it over.

Service dogs in public come with lots of staring, questions, and even photos. It's not fun, and it shouldn't be this way. But it's our reality right now. If that sounds like a nightmare, you might prefer to have an at home detection dog instead (a dog that solely detects gluten in the home).

At home service dogs are completely valid and very helpful! My dog works primarily in the home, since that is where I work.

5. Are you disabled?

Service dogs are only allowed to be in public with their handler if the handler has a disability. Not everyone with celiac or allergies is considered disabled.

Here is the legal definition of disability according to the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act): A physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, a person who has a history or record of such an impairment, or a person who is perceived by others as having such an impairment.

The question of disability status is not a question I can answer for you, but I have found it helpful to talk over with my dietitian, doctor, and trusted family members or friends. They are sometimes able to better see our limitations than ourselves.

Some questions to help you in your decision are:

  • Do you struggle to get your groceries or prescriptions?
  • Do you struggle to attend your doctor's appointments?
  • Do you struggle to work?
  • Do you struggle to get around your house or keep up with normal cleaning?
  • Are there tasks your dog could do that would help you struggle less in these areas?

Everyone's disability is different, but usually they will affect several of these areas in some way.

Getting or training a gluten detection dog is a huge investment and one that should not be taken lightly. It is a huge life change!

But hopefully through this post, you will have a clear picture of your decision.

If you are ready to train your own detection dog, you're in the perfect place! 

My programs are the lowest price I've found, fully online, and totally self paced to accommodate any of your needs.

Click here to learn more about my gluten detection program for owner trainers.

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