It is embarrassing if your dog passes gas when you are having a dinner party, but all dogs get a little gassy once in a while and we just have to put up with it perhaps with a good sense of humor.
After all, flatulence is a normal part of digestion. It occurs when food is not completely broken down in the intestine, resulting in a build-up of gases.
Much of this gas is absorbed into the blood stream, but some of it “leaks out” and becomes flatulence.
While passing gas once in a while is absolutely normal, persistent flatulence in dogs is another story. It can not only ruin your social life, but seriously it may mean that your dog is having some kind of health issue.
So what causes flatulence in dogs? Let’s take a look…
Causes of Flatulence in Dogs
Gulping Down Food
Perhaps the most common cause of canine flatulence is eating too fast, resulting in a large amount of air being swallowed (a condition called aerophagia). The air swallowed by the dog tends to travel quickly through the intestines resulting in gas.
Another common cause of canine flatulence is eating certain highly fermentable foods that cause gas, such as beans, cauliflower, cabbage, and soybeans.
Also, many poor quality dog foods do not use meat as their main protein sources; instead they use non-meat sources such as corn or wheat.
But, dogs cannot properly digest these protein sources since they lack the necessary enzymes. As a result, these undigested foods ferment in the intestine as bacteria feed on them. Fermentation produces gas!
Lack of Exercise
A lack of exercise causes poor digestion, which in turn can cause flatulence.
Older dogs are usually more “gassy” than young puppies, partly because of a lack of exercise, and partly because as an animal ages, the stomach and intestines are not as elastic due to a progressive loss of muscle tone. As a result, the stomach or intestines can easily become bloated with gas or air.
Persistent flatulence in dogs sometimes is an indication of certain underlying health problems.
For example, dogs with allergies tend to have stomach problems such as diarrhea and flatulence.
Other health problems that can cause canine flatulence include colitis, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), parasites, viral or bacterial infections of the intestines, and cancer of the gastrointestinal tract.
Home Remedies for Flatulence in Dogs
If your dog is a bit gassy, here are several things you may consider to help fight the fumes:
Although different dogs react to food ingredients differently, it is usually protein that causes flatulence in dogs.
Therefore, if your dog is gassy, try to feed him a different type of protein. For example, switching from beef to lamb.
In addition, if your dog is gassy due to constipation, try to add more fiber to his diet. For example, add canned pumpkin or green beans to his food.
Slow Your Dog Down
Many dogs have gas because they eat too fast and as such swallow a lot of air. To slow your dog down when he is eating, try feeding him three times a day instead of one big meal.
If your dog is by nature impatient, try to slow him down by putting a large object (e.g. a ball too big to be swallowed) in the middle of his food bowl. That way, he will have to pick around the object to get at his food, thus slowing him down a bit.
Exercise stimulates the intestines and helps remove excess gas build-up. Exercise also prevents constipation. Regular bowel movement can further remove gas and prevent build-up in the system.
Add Digestive Enzymes
“Gassy” dogs tend to have a sluggish digestive system that is not functioning well. One common reason is due to a lack of digestive enzymes in the dogs’ diets.
If your dog has gas frequently, try solving the problem by giving him a supplement of digestive enzymes, such as Prozyme.
Normally inside a dog’s intestines there are “friendly bacteria” that helps the digestion process. Sometimes, however, for some reasons (e.g. after a course of antibiotic treatment), there are insufficient good bacteria in the dog’s system, which can result in flatulence.
To replenish the gastrointestinal tract with “friendly bacteria”, try giving your dog a supplement of probiotics.
Another treatment for flatulence in dogs is to use simethicone (Gas-X) to absorb intestinal gas. It is available over the counter for people and is safe for use on dogs as well.
You can give 1/4 adult dose to a small dog, 1/2 adult dose to a medium-sized dog, and 1 adult dose to a large dog after meals.