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Common Causes and Treatments for Dog Farts

Various reasons, including genetics, can cause excess gas, so it's critical to understand the causes and ways to prevent your pup from suffering from excess, potentially painful gas.

Common Causes and Treatments for Dog Farts

Various reasons, including genetics, can cause excess gas, so it's critical to understand the causes and ways to prevent your pup from suffering from excess, potentially painful gas.

By: Dr. Juli, DVM 

Foul smells from either end of your pup can be an embarrassing and unpleasant part of dog parenting. In most cases, the occasional bout of flatulence, or gas, is a normal physiologic response to digestion. However, signs like bad breath can indicate dental disease, and smelly gas may be the first clue that your dog is suffering from an underlying health issue.

If your dog is constantly farting, then it's time to bring them for a veterinary exam to get to the bottom of the problem. Various reasons, including genetics, can cause excess gas, so it's critical to understand the causes and ways to prevent your pup from suffering from excess, potentially painful gas. 

What is Flatulence in Dogs?

Flatulence occurs due to excess gas production in the stomach or intestines. In most cases, it's harmless to dogs because forming some gas can be a normal physiologic response to digestion following a meal. The gastrointestinal tract functions to break down food and absorb nutrients required for proper organ function. During the digestive process, hydrogen sulfide gas may be released as a byproduct of digestion for certain foods, like indigestible fiber or dairy, which then causes gas to be trapped.

Farting is a way for the gas to be released from the body. However, excessive gas, bloating, or foul-smelling farts may indicate a more serious underlying health issue such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Excess gas buildup in the stomach or intestine can be painful, so bringing your chronically gassy dog for a veterinary checkup is recommended.

Dietary Reasons for Dog Farts

Diet is one of the more common causes of excess or foul-smelling gas in dogs. Dogs process food differently than people, so while a varied diet for people may improve human health, sudden diet changes or too many variables can cause GI upset or excess gas production in a dog's digestive tract.

Common dietary causes for excess flatulence in dogs include:

  • Sudden changes in what your dog eats (i.e., switching dog food brands, protein sources, or treats)
  • Table scraps
  • Spoiled food
  • Pica (i.e., eating non-food objects like dirt or grass)
  • Rich, high-fat foods
  • Dairy products (i.e., milk, cheese — yes, dogs can be lactose intolerant, too)
  • Spicy, seasoned, or oiled foods
  • Excess ingestion of steamed, high-fiber vegetables (i.e., broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts)
  • Ingestion of soybeans, peas, or other high-fiber foods
  • Food allergies (chicken and egg-based protein sources are common culprits)
  • Food intolerance or sensitivities

Excess Air Intake

In addition to producing too much gas, dogs may swallow air or aerophagia, leading to excess flatulence. Excess air ingestion can cause a bloated stomach and, in severe cases, put dogs at risk for gastric dilatation and volvulus (GDV), a life-threatening condition requiring emergency veterinary care and surgery.

Common causes for excess air intake include:

  • Eating too fast
  • Compulsive eating or chewing
  • Feeding a dog immediately after exercise
  • Feeding one large meal a day
  • Ingestion of food when suffering respiratory issues 
  • Breed confirmation (i.e., brachycephalic breeds, including pugs, French bulldogs, and Boston terriers, often ingest excess air during mealtime because of their head positioning and small nares)

Gastrointestinal Causes for Flatulence

Gastrointestinal issues or infections can also lead to flatulence in dogs. In some cases, foul-smelling or excess gas may be the first clue that your dog has an underlying health problem.

Common causes may include:

  • Intestinal parasites (i.e., roundworms, hooks worms, tapeworms)
  • Cancer of the intestinal tract
  • Bacterial overgrowth
  • Fungal infections
  • Viral disease
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
  • Diseases of the pancreas (i.e., pancreatitis, exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI))

When to Take Your Dog to the Vet for Gas

Your pup's occasional gas or foul-smelling flatulence may not be cause for concern. However, chronic gas or changes in smell should be checked by a DVM to rule out more serious underlying health problems.

Additionally, bring your dog for a veterinary examination if their gas is associated with any of the following signs:

  • Vomiting more than one time in 24 hours
  • Diarrhea or bloody stools
  • Vomiting or regurgitation after eating or drinking
  • Decreased or absent appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Painful abdomen
  • Behavior changes
  • Loud abdominal sounds or gurgling belly
  • Mildly bloated or firm stomach – a severely bloated stomach is a medical emergency 

How to Treat Your Dog’s Flatulence

In some cases, excessive gas can be treated by removing the offending treats or food from your dog’s diet. However, most cases require extensive investigations and veterinary care to determine the underlying cause. Never give your dog any home remedies, human medication, or over-the-counter anti-gas medication unless your veterinarian advises, as some may contain dangerous ingredients. Proper treatment will depend on the underlying cause, which your veterinarian can determine.

For dogs with the occasional smelly fart, providing them with a dog-safe treat containing yucca schidigera or zinc acetate may decrease the odor. However, always check with your veterinarian before offering your dog any new treats, as they could exacerbate the problem. 

How to Prevent Flatulence in Dogs

The occasional dog gas or flatulence is a normal bodily function that cannot always be prevented. However, supporting your dog's digestive system and overall health will decrease the chances of excess flatulence or foul-smelling gas.

Ways to support your dog's gut health include:

  • Feeding a complete and balanced AAFCO-approved diet for your dog's age, breed, and lifestyle
  • Bringing your dog for annual or more frequent veterinary examinations
  • Never feeding a meal immediately after exercise
  • Offering voracious small, more frequent meals 
  • Avoiding table scraps, excess fiber, and most human foods
  • Providing your dog ample exercise and keeping them a healthy weight
  • Giving them a veterinary-approved probiotic to support the gut health, like Native Pet Probiotic Powder, this is especially helpful during diet transitions
  • Utilizing a puzzle dish or slow feeder for mealtime

We all need to pass gas occasionally, even dogs. The occasional dog fart, while unpleasant, is likely harmless and is a normal physiologic function. However, chronic, foul-smelling gas can indicate an underlying digestive health problem that your family veterinarian should address.

For more information and tips on your dog's health, check out the Native Pet blog.

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