Silent but deadly, or maybe just deadly, dog farts are no joking matter. Serious flatulence can make life with your dog downright difficult. Not only is it embarrassing when guests are around, but a particularly gassy dog can make simple things like cuddling on the couch feel like petting a biohazard.
Before you reach for the gas mask, take a moment to do a little research about the possible causes of dog farts. You may be able to stop farts in their tracks, and in some cases, dog farts can be a sign of a serious medical condition.
Why Do Dogs Fart?
Dogs fart for many of the same reasons we do. A change in diet, a food that doesn’t agree with them, and gastrointestinal (GI) illness can all lead to imbalances in the microflora in your dog’s stomach and small intestines. These organisms are responsible for the excess gas and subsequent farts that are making you and your dog miserable.
Your Dog's Diet and Flatulence
Diet is one of the leading causes of dog farts, according to veterinarians. Certain food groups, such as indigestible carbohydrates, lead to gas, and foods and treats that have a high meat content can create truly foul-smelling farts.
Dogs with food allergies are particularly prone to flatulence, and dog farts are actually a common symptom of food allergies. Switching to a highly digestible diet or a novel protein diet could help, but unfortunately is not a guarantee. Your best bet is to make an appointment with your veterinarian.
Sudden dietary changes can also cause flatulence. If you have recently switched your dog to a new diet without a slow transition, or added in a new food item, it is not necessarily the food that is the problem, but the change itself.
Dogs have an unpleasant habit of getting into things they are not supposed to, like trash, spoiled food, and manure from other animals. These dietary indiscretions can cause GI upset, which is a cause of gas, and they can also contain fermentable substrates, which also lead to gas.
Another common dietary cause of flatulence in dogs is table scraps. Table scraps pose numerous risks, from stinky, high-content meat products and GI upset, to lactose intolerance. Most veterinarians recommend limiting or eliminating table scraps from a dog’s diet. In addition to potentially causing flatulence, table scraps are a source of unnecessary calories.
Aerophagia in Dogs
It is widely believed that aerophagia, or increased swallowing of air, can lead to gas in dogs. Greedy eaters that wolf down their food, and brachycephalic breeds are at an increased risk of swallowing more air than normal, which can lead to gas down the line, so to speak.
GI Illness in Dogs
Stinky dog farts can also have a more serious cause. Any GI disorder that leads to malabsorption of nutrients in your dog’s intestines can lead to increased gas production and odor. Histiocytic ulcerative colitis, a disease that Boxers are predisposed to and French Bulldogs are reported to be prone to, can cause increased dog farts, as can inflammatory bowel disease, which Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers and Yorkshire Terriers are predisposed to.
Parasites, the parvovirus, tumors, exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, enteritis, and an overgrowth of small intestinal bacteria can also cause excessive flatulence in dogs. If your dog is very gassy, check to see if he is also showing other symptoms of GI illness, such as a painful abdomen, loss of appetite, diarrhea, vomiting, or any other change in behavior or activity levels.
Finding the Cause of Dog Farts
Dog farts are gross, but there are things that can be done about them. First, though, you need to isolate the cause. This will probably require help from your veterinarian.
Your veterinarian will first perform a physical exam to look for other signs of illness. Then, depending on her findings, she may pursue additional testing, for example diagnostic imaging, blood work, and a fecal exam to check for parasites, to rule out any serious causes.
Keep in mind that food allergies are often tricky to diagnose, so you may have to be patient while your veterinarian rules out other possible causes and puts your dog on an elimination diet.
Sometimes, fixing dog farts is as simple as cutting out table scraps; eliminating access to repulsive snacks like the cat box, road kill, or spoiled food; and keeping your dog out of the trash.
Treating Dog Farts
Treating dog farts is largely dependent on the cause. If the farts are a result of an underlying condition, then treating the condition should help resolve the farts.
A change in diet can help some dogs with their flatulence. Ask your veterinarian about highly digestible diets or about whether or not she believes your dog could have food allergies. Your dog could also benefit from diets that have a prebiotic effect. These diets promote a healthy environment for beneficial microflora, which reduces the gas.
Dogs that swallow air while eating may require some behavior modification or environmental management. Try to reduce any stresses around feeding time, especially in multi-dog houses where competitive eating could be an issue, or feed smaller, more frequent meals.
Exercise can also help with flatulence. Active dogs tend to be less gassy than sedentary dogs, so grab your dog's leash and collar and walk off some of that gas.
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If all else fails, there are a few medications that can treat dog farts and reduce the odor. Make sure to check with your veterinarian to see what he or she recommends for your dog.
Some gas is normal. If you are concerned about your dog's farts, keep a mental tally of how often he farts and how badly it smells, so that your veterinarian can help you determine if your dog's farts are normal or a possible symptom of an underlying condition.