Gas happens. It’s an undeniable fact of life. But it’s embarrassing when your dog is the one with the problem and chooses to be aromatic when you have a house full of guests. After all, he doesn’t understand the social implications of passing gas around others. In the dog world, that’s just life.
If you have a gassy dog, how do you tell the difference between a dog with a medical problem and a dog with a manners problem, and how do you fix it?
The gas known as flatus is a byproduct of bacterial fermentation in the gut. Some breeds, such as boxers, bulldogs, Boston terriers and other breeds with short snouts, seem to be predisposed to being flatulent. A certain amount of gas will always be produced, but when it is excessive or particularly foul smelling, one or more of the following causes may be at fault.
- Food allergies: A high percentage of dogs with a food sensitivity or allergy are flatulent. A diet change won’t always eliminate the problem, but it can help reduce it.
- Beans: There is a reason there’s a song about beans. Beans and soybeans are sometimes used in dog foods as a protein source. They are very high in fiber and tend to move quickly through the digestive tract. An abrupt diet change to a food containing bean meal or soybeans can have a dramatic effect on your dog’s digestion, so if you are considering a switch to a food with beans as an ingredient, make it a gradual change.
- Dietary indiscretion: Does your dog raid the trash can, eat feces off the ground, or sometimes eat the cat’s food? All these things can act as fuel for the fermentation that takes place in the digestive tract, leading to increased odiferous emissions.
- Table scraps: Feeding your dog something as simple as a piece of cheese can cause gas if he doesn’t normally eat that food, or has a sensitivity to it. If your dog eats a lot of human food, a change to dog treats could fix his issue.
- GI Disease: Underlying GI disease, such as IBD, can result in gas. Disorders that involve poor absorption of nutrients are a particular cause, since those nutrients end up in the colon and contribute to fermentation. Flatulence is certainly not the most obvious sign in dogs that have these disorders, but is frequently observed along with weight loss, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain and poor appetite. If your dog has IBD or another GI disorder, treatment of the underlying problem is necessary to fully resolve the flatulence problem.
- Parasites: Parasites can disrupt the normal absorption of nutrients, leading to gas. All pets should have a yearly fecal test done to screen for parasites.
- Antibiotic Use: A course of antibiotics can change the balance of the microflora in the gut. Avoiding unnecessary antibiotic use will keep your dog’s gut in balance. If you have to give antibiotics, also add Synacore, a probiotic supplement.
- High Fiber Food: Foods high in insoluble fiber are sometimes used for weight loss, or for dogs with chronic diarrhea, but a side effect can be increased gas production. A diet change to a food with less fiber may help.
If your dog has been given a clean bill of health, has not responded to a diet change and otherwise seems healthy and happy, consider a probiotic supplement. A probiotic supplement contains healthy bacteria that help support the digestive system.
Finally, take your gassy dog for a walk! Regular exercise gives your dog the opportunity to eliminate outdoors, decreasing gas inside the house. The benefit of exercise for flatulent dogs isn’t clear, but surveys indicate the gassiest dogs tend to be the most sedentary.