Gluten Free CarsonMy story begins with the arrival of my Bernese Mountain Dog, Carson.

We live in Naples, FL with my husband, Mike.  Carson came to live with us in January 9,  2009 at the age of 9 weeks.  His diet was raw foods mixed with dry kibble; and he thrived.

His raw diet led me on the organic eating  pathway for Carson and myself. Vegetables and fruits as well as free range poultry and grass fed beef or bison.  I made sure his kibble was always corn free.  I thought I had covered all the bases for optimal healthy eating for Carson, boy was I wrong.

He began having bouts of diarrhea. I had to be away from home for a week and while I was gone the diarrhea became so severe Carson became dehydrated. (A nightmare week for my husband!)

The visit to the Vet resulted in him staying for IV fluids to rehydrate, medications and a big change in his diet.  No more raw foods and a change to maintenance foods with no nutrition. Diagnosis was stress from me being away from him for a week. Labs were negative.  The diarrhea continued.

A second Vet was consulted, more lab tests were ordered; results were negative. The maintenance diet of wet and dry food continued for the next 6 weeks, more medicines for what this Vet thought was Girardia.  After this regimented diet Carson seemed to be better so we started him back on a natural no corn, no fillers, dry kibble only diet and all went well for a few months.

Intestinal problems began again, hair loss spots (were told these were hot spots), itching and biting at his back, hair seemed to lack luster, plaque begin to build up on his teeth and his attitude was becoming more alpha.

We attended training classes, consulted with trainers and always we were told he is just rambunctious and excitable.  He will outgrow this behavior, well this was not happening. By the time he was 1 1/2 years of age and 115 lbs. we knew we had to get a handle on his problems.

Following a recommendation from my friend, I contacted a Holistic Healer.  Within the first few minutes of her visit I learned the culprit behind all Carson’s problems was Gluten!  After her visit I had a changed dog.

My knowledge of gluten allergy was non-existent.  When I heard about family and friends who were suffering from fibromyalgia or illness related to gluten, I thought well they can’t have anything containing whole wheat.  I was so naive.  Thanks to Carson’s diagnosis I have been doing my homework.  I now realize Gluten is a real problem in canines and humans, the more I research the more I learn.  While I  do not suffer from celiac or gluten/wheat allergies, I am doing all I can to become gluten free.

Carson now eats Fromm Surf & Turf grain and gluten free dry kibble.  His meals are mixed with frozen vegetables, cooked ground turkey and some fruit. No more medications.  He is very healthy, hair is shiny, no bald spots, teeth are clean. His attitude and behavior are calmer, loving and affectionate.

I am convinced Carson came into my life to help me become aware of my living/eating habits.  I thought I was eating healthy, salads, vegetables and fruits.  I just was not eating organic…. I was consuming all the chemicals and GMO of conventional farming.  I had learned of the hazards of soy and I have been as soy free as is possible for the past year and continue my diligence to keep soy out of life.

Every weekend we spend what we call “Carson’s Day Out” socializing at fundraisers for the Naples Humane Society, Art Festivials, local Farmer’s Markets, going on fun walks in the parks and downtown.  We have met and made many new friends, canine and humans alike.

These new friendships have led me personally to new ways of eating; not only organic but now into the world of raw/living foods. Carson and I continue to share our story and hopefully we help others in their quest for optimal health as we help ourselves.

Carson continued to thrive especially after I switched him to Raw Meats and a little dehydrated organic fruits and vegetables.  His sister Emma came into our lives in 2011 and she has been on the same raw diet & dehydrated foods.  Emma is healthy gorgeous girl.  Like Carson she is very loving and always by my side.  They play tag & chase in the yard, I so enjoy watching them play.

I did eliminate all vaccines from their life, I do only titers to keep a check on the levels of vaccine still in their systems.  More expensive, but at least they are not getting the poisons that come from the vaccines.  I do only homeopathy nosodes for heart worm prevention and I have been very successful.  I use all natural organic products to protect them from fleas and ticks.  I began using Young Living Essential Oils in 2013 on them for flea and tick prevention.  Massage them with Raindrop Technique for sore muscles.  Regular chiropractic adjustments are also one of the modalities I use.

October, 13, 2014 my beloved Carson crossed over to the other side.  He was diagnosed with cause of death being Histosarcoma.  This is an ugly and quick disease.  However, as all the testing that was done, all came back negative for cancer.  He had been on a course of Cephalexin for ear infection.  I have discovered this drug has not been approved for use in animals!  Every week I read of another death of a pet from the use of this drug.  My 2 vets told me Cephalexin was the number one cause of internal intestinal bleeding and cause of anemia.  I will forever believe this was the beginning of the end of Carson’s earthly presence.

My husband, Emma and myself miss Carson so very much.  He was larger than life and was/is the Love of My Life.  We all still feel his presence from time to time and know that he will always be with us in spirit.

Emma continues to do well and I will keep on learning and researching.


  • Jody Anagnos

    Reply Reply April 12, 2011

    Hi Mike and Connie,

    It’s Jody from Whole Foods. Unfortunately, I had to switch days off and I now have Thursday off instead of Wednesday. Can we meet at that park sometime on Thursday? My day is pretty free and probably like you, I’m just thinking of a time that might be a little cooler for the pups.

    I look forward to hearing from you and getting our dogs together!


    • connie

      Reply Reply April 13, 2011

      Hi Jody,
      Thanks for the update on days. Unfortunately, I am unavailable this Thursday, I have appointments scheduled. Let us know when you are free again & we will keep trying.


    • Bonner

      Reply Reply July 1, 2011

      Whoa, things just got a whole lot eaiser.

      • connie

        Reply Reply July 6, 2011

        Hi Jody,
        Glad I could help. How are you doing?

  • nancy young

    Reply Reply June 11, 2011

    Connie — this is all so good — but I need more info on feeding my dogs — like I had said, we just started raw for all three of my aussies —please put me on your email list if you send out emails — thanks so much, I like your website —

  • nancy young

    Reply Reply June 11, 2011

    You may be getting this twice — as I sent a message and it came back empty — anyway, I love your story — Please put me on your email list, thanks so much, this is all so good, just need more info on feeding dogs —

    • connie

      Reply Reply June 13, 2011

      Nancy – thank you so much for the kind words, I really appreciate it! The best thing to do would be to sign up for the Gluten Free Breakfast Challenge ( you will find it on the right side of the page). When you sign up you will get my FREE Breakfast Challenge, 7 days or gluten free recipes and you will then also get all future emails I send out. Thanks ~ Connie

    • Tangie

      Reply Reply July 1, 2011

      Your answer was just what I nedeed. It’s made my day!

  • Rachel

    Reply Reply June 29, 2011

    Gluten free isn’t difficult, once you stop looking for substitutes for everything. TryPaleo.

    • connie

      Reply Reply July 6, 2011

      Rachel, I agree eating gluten free is easier now than it was years ago. What is Paleo?

  • Lori Jennings

    Reply Reply July 25, 2012

    Hello Connie & Mike & especially Carson! I found your blog through the Cascadian Farm website. I have two Bernese Mtn dogs and I was so pleased to see Carson’s picture when I clicked on the link to your blog! I live in Eastern Washington and know all too well what gluten can do to ourselves and our dogs. If you have not already, you must join the yahoo groups – Natural Berners and the Berner-l. The breeder of my youngest Berner went gluten free after a co-worker at the WSU Vet School convinced her to try it for just a week. She has now been gluten free for almost 2 years, lost 60 lbs. and has been able to become mobile again after the pain in her joints that gluten caused is now manageable. Another close friend of hers was in a wheelchair thinking she may be disabled for the rest of her life from an undiagnosed Parkinsons-type disease when told about trying to go gluten free for a while. The next time she saw her a year later, she was showing her own dogs in the conformation ring! Gluten really does awful things to us and our dogs.
    Lori with Gigi & Shelby
    Spokane, WA

    • connie

      Reply Reply September 17, 2012

      Hi Lori,
      Welcome to my site and Thank you for sharing. I apologize for my very long delay in responding to you.
      I will definitely look up the yahoo group. I am always interested in learning all I can about Gluten Free people & Berners. I have felt I was the only one who has a gluten intolerant dog!

      I just learned on Saturday that my girl, is highly allergic to coconut….. so here I go on a new quest and beginning research into the
      side effects of coconut. I live on coconut in all forms.

      Give my best to all your friends and their furry friends.

      and Her Berners

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