Flatulence in dogs, while never pleasant, usually is nothing to be worried about. It is often the result of your dog eating quickly. However, poor quality food or food allergies also can be a factor. If excessive gas is occurring in your pet, consider taking him to the vet to get him checked out.
What Flatulence Is
Flatulence is what happens when gas accumulates in the gastrointestinal tract and colon of your dog. This is a normal phenomenon whereby bacteria breaks down food. When a lot of this gas has formed in the stomach or intestine it is released, often to the dismay of those nearby. It is generally harmless, but if the gas is excessive it may be a sign of a greater underlying medical condition that may need to be addressed.
Causes of Flatulence in Dogs
The main contributing factor of flatulence in canines is their diet. A dog may have difficulty fully digesting the ingredients in low-quality food causing gas to build up. Table scraps and foods that contain lactose also can trigger gas. Soybeans, beans, milk products and high-fat foods are all common triggers for flatulence. Persistent flatulence is sometimes a sign of another medical problem such as a serious gastrointestinal disease.
How to Treat Flatulence
There are medications available for treating flatulence in dogs, but first you should address lifestyle and dietary changes. Consider medicating only after consulting with your vet. The most effective change likely will be dietary. Research dog foods and seek your vet's advice. In general you'll want to look for authentic meat-based sources of protein. Avoid meat by-products as these are often cheap, low-quality discarded animal parts. Make sure the food has omega fatty acids, and if it contains grains, they should be whole grains. It also may help to give your dog smaller meals more frequently in a quiet, peaceful environment and to make sure you are exercising him daily.
Symptoms of a Health Problem
While flatulence is often not a sign of a health disorder, consider getting your dog checked out by the vet if excessive gas persists after making dietary changes. Possible diseases associated with excess flatulence include inflammatory bowel disease, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, tumors, irritable bowel syndrome, intestinal parasites and exocrine pancreatic insufficiency. If the cause of flatulence is a health issue, it often will be accompanied by diarrhea, vomiting, weight loss and/or lack of appetite. If this is the case, you should consult your vet immediately. In some cases prescription diets and medication may be necessary.
Brian McCracken lives in Portland, Ore., where he writes on pets and animal wildlife as well as a wide array of other topics, ranging from real estate to personal development.