When is the last time you walked into a room with your Labrador and thought, "Wow! What a smell! Who farted?" It's a common occurrence in the world of dogs.
We have all been there. It's not pleasant, but we can help prevent it. What to do when your lab Labrador has gas?
What is Dog Flatulence
The excessive formation of gas in the stomach or intestine is referred to as flatulence. Flatus is the medical term used to describe air or gas expelled through the anus.
What causes flatulence in dogs?
The most common cause of flatulence is a change in diet or from the dog eating something spoiled (dietary indiscretion).
Most cases of chronic flatulence are caused by a diet that is poorly digested by the dog. These poorly digestible diets cause excessive fermentation in the colon and subsequent gas formation.
Soybeans, peas, beans, milk products, high-fat diets, and spicy foods are all commonly associated with flatulence in dogs. Most dogs and cats are lactose intolerant and if they are fed milk or dairy products they will experience flatulence and/or intestinal upset.
A dog that is being fed a premium diet and is still experiencing flatulence should be tested for a maldigestion problem with either poor digestion or poor absorption of nutrients from the diet.
Dogs that swallow air while eating, especially those that eat rapidly, are more likely to experience flatulence.
Overweight, obese, and sedentary dogs are at higher risk for developing chronic flatulence, regardless of diet.
What are the clinical signs of flatulence?
The most common clinical signs include expulsion of gas from the anus, with or without odor, mild abdominal discomfort, mild stomach distention or bloating, and excessive gaseous sounds or rumbling from the abdomen (borborygmus).
If the dog has an underlying malassimilation problem (inability or impaired ability of the gastrointestinal tract to provide nutrients to the body), clinical signs will also include loose stools or diarrhea, vomiting, and weight loss.
How is the cause of flatulence diagnosed?
Diagnosis is based on medical history and clinical signs. Some of the common causes that must be ruled out include:
- increased swallowing of air (aerophagia)
- gluttony or compulsive eating
- respiratory disease
- feeding shortly after exercise
- brachycephalic or flat-faced breeds
- dietary indiscretion
- diets high in soybeans, peas or beans
- diets high in fermentable fibers such as lactulose, psyllium, or oat bran
- spoiled food
- milk and dairy products
- sudden change in diet
- spicy foods and food additives
- inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
- small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO)
- irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- intestinal parasites
- exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI)
Diagnostic tests may include fecal examination and/or culture; rectal cytology; blood and urine tests, including specialized tests such as trypsin-like immunoreactivity (TLI), serum cobalamin, and serum folate tests; abdominal radiographs; abdominal ultrasound; and intestinal biopsies.
How is flatulence treated?
Treatment is based on diagnosis and commonly involves a change in diet. Diet recommendations include a diet that is highly digestible with low fiber and fat. This reduces the amount of food needing to be digested and absorbed before reaching the pet’s colon. Medical therapy may include carminatives (medications to relieve flatulence) such as zinc acetate, Yucca schidigera, or probiotics. Small, frequent feedings are encouraged for dogs that eat rapidly or are hyperexcitable. Your veterinarian will outline a treatment plan specifically designed for your pet.
What is the prognosis for resolving flatulence?
Most patients with uncomplicated cases respond well to dietary and lifestyle changes. Once offending dietary substances and products are identified, it is important to avoid them.
What Causes Dog Gas?
In order to understand why these home remedies work, let’s talk about why dogs get gas in the first place.
The biggest reason for dogs to have gas is that their digestive system isn’t working as well as it should be. While it is normal for some gas to happen during digestion, very excessive gas, or very smelly gas, shouldn’t be happening.
When the digestive system is trying to process something that it’s having a hard time with, the food particles are essentially sitting in the colon and fermenting.
That is what causes the excessive, smelly gas that owners really want to get rid of. Improper digestion is mostly caused by what your dog is eating, but can also be caused by being obese, not getting enough exercise, and even some medical issues like having parasites or having an intestinal disease.
For most dogs, the problem falls under the categories of diet and lifestyle.
Here are some home remedies for dog gas that you can use today and some instructions on how to help a dog with bad gas.
Encourage Your Dog to Eat Slower
Digestion works a lot better when dogs aren’t swallowing a ton of air every time they take a bite of food. Dogs that tend to gobble their bowl up in seconds typically have this problem.
You can try feeding them smaller portions at a time, using a bowl designed to slow them down with ridges that they have to navigate to eat, or even adding a small bit of water to their food so that they “lap” instead of “gobble”.
Feed High-Quality Dog Food
In many low-quality dog foods, there are fillers that do nothing except make the dog feel full. They don’t offer nutrients and they aren’t truly things dogs need to be eating. Some dogs can be very sensitive to these fillers, and even if they aren’t – not getting the nutrition they need could cause the digestive system to not work as well as it should.
Choose a high-quality dog food that features ingredients you recognize, like real meat, vegetables, and fruits – and stay away from those with grain fillers as the first ingredients. Ask your vet for a food recommendation if you aren’t sure where to start. Get Your Dog Active
If your dog is overweight or has a very sedentary lifestyle, consider working more exercise into their daily routine. Add a second walk, go to the dog park more often, or schedule a puppy play date with an energetic dog or a friend. You can even hire dog walkers similar to calling an Uber these days with apps on your smartphone. Speak to your vet about reducing your dog’s calories to help them lose weight if they are severely overweight.
Don’t Feed Your Dog People Food
It’s tempting to slip your dog a little treat from the dinner table when they are sitting right there watching you eat – but this could be a major factor behind smelly dog farts. Human food is rarely good for dogs, primarily because of the way we cook our food. But even if you are eating a totally raw diet, there are still many food items that dogs don’t digest well. It’s best to skip the snacks from the dinner table, and instead focus on getting your dog the best quality dog food you can afford.
Create a DIY Gas X for Dogs
Dogs can benefit from natural digestive aids like ginger, yogurt, and edible peppermint oil. These three ingredients have all been shown to help reduce dog flatulence. You can feed them the yogurt, sprinkle ginger onto their food, and put a few drops of peppermint oil into their water dish, to get the benefits of all three. This works as a sort of homemade Gas X for dogs!
Consider a Digestive Aid Supplement
Finally, if changing their diet and getting them more active isn’t totally solving the issue, you can also add a supplement into their diet. Look for something that helps restore the good gut bacteria, like Vivamune. Viramune uses beta-carotene, which helps to get rid of bad bacteria and promote the growth of good bacteria. In addition to improving their diet and lifestyle, this can be the answer you’ve been searching for when your dog has bad gas.
Be Aware Of Gastrointestinal Disease
In a worst-case scenario, doggy farts could indicate more severe gastrointestinal issues, such as inflammatory bowel disease or other ailments.
When gastrointestinal disease is the cause, there are usually other symptoms, such as diarrhea and vomiting.
Your dog may also suffer from a loss of appetite and weight.
If you notice any other unusual symptoms or behavioral changes in conjunction with your dog's more frequent flatulence, it's important to take them to a vet ASAP to get things checked out
Which One Works for You?
Make sure to let us know if any of these tips have helped you help your dog. We do our best to instruct dog owners and teach them how to help a dog with bad gas, but we like to hear success stories! Make sure to leave a comment on what has worked for your dog!