Can we be frank? Yes? Okay, good. Let’s talk about dog farts, then. You know… those noxious, eye-watering, room-clearing, “Holy cow, what did you EAT??” emissions that overwhelm our olfactory senses, and often puzzle or frighten the dog that’s letting ‘em rip. While a little gas is a normal part of almost any digestive process, if your dog is consistently passing fumes that could choke a donkey, it often indicates an underlying issue that could be improved.
PLEASE NOTE: if your dog is showing ANY other symptoms of distress… bloating, obvious discomfort, frequent diarrhea, vomiting, etc. PLEASE CONTACT YOUR VET IMMEDIATELY! This post is strictly addressing stinky farts in an otherwise healthy dog. That being said – it can never hurt to ask your vet’s input on the subject, either.
The first and most obvious culprit to investigate is your dog’s “extracurricular” eating and drinking. If you have the fortune of a fenced backyard where your dog is free to roam, she may be finding all kinds of delicacies to get into – edible or otherwise. This can wreak havoc in any dog that doesn’t have an iron stomach. It will be worth your time to take a few days to supervise your dog’s outdoor activity every time she is outside, and see if your pup is finding some no-no to snack on. Mulch, sticks, certain plants, stagnant water, rabbit/deer/bird/cat poop, their OWN poop (UGH)… there are endless sources of ick out there your dog may be indulging in. Putting the kibosh on that may quickly solve your flatulence problem. (Well, your dog’s anyway…)
The second thing to look into is your dog’s diet. Just like people, dog’s digestive systems often have sensitivities and quirks that mean certain foods are better tolerated than others. Thankfully, there is now a plethora of readily available foods out there that can help address common issues in doggy digestive health. If your canine companion has frequent gas, it’s worth giving a different food a try. First, try a completely different protein base. For example, if you feed a chicken-based food, gradually switch him or her over to a beef-, turkey- or fish-based food, and see if that makes an improvement. If that doesn’t seem to do much, you can also try switching to a grain-free diet to see if that eases the gas. Both of our dogs, while not showing any obvious grain allergy, had improved stool consistency and almost zero gas after switching to grain-free. Patience is key in this experiment… you’ll want to make a switch gradually, and then give it a few weeks to see if there is any improvement.
It should also be noted that in general, a higher-quality, less-filler diet is going to help your dog not only have a more comfortable belly, but will also likely improve their skin, coat, and overall well-being. Another bonus that a lot of people don’t realize is that when you switch to a high quality food, you can often feed the dog less, AND the dog produces a smaller stool. It ends up being a better value than you’d expect. So skip the bargain food at your local discount store, and look for a better quality food that’s still in a comfortable price range. If you want to compare the quality of different types of food, www.dogfoodadvisor.com is a great source of information, and can help you narrow down the vast amount of choices available.
If your dog is already on a high-quality food, and doesn’t show any other signs of digestive distress outside of the gas, you may want to try adding probiotics. These supplements can help balance the essential bacteria in your dog’s gut, which help him not only digest food more effectively, but also contribute towards overall health. A dog that’s had to take antibiotics is especially vulnerable to having gut bacteria that’s out of balance. Just make sure you purchase probiotics specifically for pets… the human ones don’t have the right mix of bacteria for a canine gut. A probiotic product frequently recommended by vets is Purina’s FortiFlora. It’s available here: FortiFlora on Amazon I personally have also had a lot of success with Ark Naturals’ Gentle Digest: Gentle Digest
Another thing that can cause a lot of gas is dogs wolfing down their food. Just like in people, the faster a dog eats, the more air it’s gulping along with the food. There are a bunch of products on the market that can help your dog slow its eating – from a bowl that forces them to pick at food more slowly (slow food bowl), to puzzles and toys that only dispense a little at a time (interactive food puzzle). Your dog may find them quite frustrating at first, but it will be worth it to help them learn to eat more slowly. It could help curtail the gas, and has the added bonus of being a mental challenge as well, which is healthy for almost any dog. In addition to slowing your dog’s eating, it may also help if you raise their food and bowls to a more comfortable height. If a dog doesn’t have to bend way down to reach his bowl, it makes it easier for him swallow properly. It can be as simple as setting the dishes on a short bench or small stack of boards.
Hopefully one or more of these strategies can help you, with just a little effort, make your dog’s digestion more bearable for everyone. Pinning down and alleviating the source of your dog’s flatulence is sure to leave him or her with a more comfortable belly, and allow you, your family members, and your furry friend to snuggle without fear of choking on a sudden toxic cloud.