When you're a dog owner, you think everything your dog does is cute ... well, except maybe one thing. Your dog farts.
Sometimes, our furry friends manage to make even that seem cute, like when they're puppies and they fart so loud they startle themselves. And dog farts can be useful, like when you blame your own farts on your pup. (You know you do it, your dog knows you do it, and probably whoever was in the room at the time knows you do it.)
But, if your pooch has an excessively windy bottom, they might be experiencing digestive issues. In which case, there are a few simple steps you can take to help your flatulent friend.
Here's a look at the reasons your dog farts and what you can do to stop the stink.
Why Your Dog Farts
On a biological level, dogs fart for the same reasons that humans fart: As the digestive system breaks down food, it produces gases that build up in the intestinal tract. The body expels those gases either from the bottom in the form of a fart or from the top in the form of a burp.
Smelly gas is the result of a fermentation process that takes place in humans’ and dogs’ guts during digestion. While we often find ourselves lacking scientific studies on issues that affect our furry friends, there has been a study on dog farts that used fart suits to capture the canines' gaseous output.
As reported by Scientific American, the dog farts were composed of fermentation gases that included carbon dioxide, hydrogen, and methane. This is in addition to oxygen and nitrogen, which are atmospheric gases and not fermentation gases. They enter the gastrointestinal system when our dogs swallow air, and farts made up primarily of atmospheric gases don't tend to smell.
Researchers found that stinkier dog farts — and yes, it was someone's job to smell the dog farts — contained higher concentrations of fermentation gases.
What Causes Excess Gas
Farting is natural, and no dog will ever be 100% fart-free. But, there are a few health issues and lifestyle factors that can contribute to your dog farting. Identifying the main culprits behind your friend's flatulence will help you find solutions.
It's always a good idea to work with your doctor of veterinary medicine (DVM) to determine the cause of your dog's excessive gas. Any one of these issues can be a contributing factor:
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
IBD is a form of chronic enteropathy (a long-term gastrointestinal disorder), characterized by inflammation in the digestive tract that lasts for more than three weeks. Other signs include diarrhea, vomiting, and loss of appetite. IBD requires diagnosis and treatment from your vet.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Like IBD, IBS in dogs is also caused by intestinal inflammation, but it can be short-term or intermittent. It's often related to factors like stress. Diarrhea is one of the most common symptoms, but you may also notice your dog struggling with constipation or urgency. Your vet can help you diagnose irritable bowel syndrome and identify the underlying cause.
A variety of intestinal parasites — including roundworms, hookworms, whipworms, and tapeworms — can take up residency in your dog's digestive tract and cause symptoms that include passing gas, scooting or dragging their butt, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of energy, or a bulbous stomach.
Parasites can become serious if left untreated, but they're typically easy to treat with prescription medication. Make an appointment with your DVM to get your dog tested.
Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency
When your dog has exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, their pancreas doesn't produce enough digestive enzymes. Because healthy digestion is essential for reducing your dog's gas, this condition can lead to farting as well as weight loss, loose stool, and excessive eating or an excessive desire to eat, known as polyphagia. You'll need your veterinarian's help diagnosing this condition and finding appropriate digestive enzymes to supplement your dog's diet.
Aerophagia is a fancy way to say "swallowing too much air." This is common with dogs that eat too fast, so if your furry friend tends to gulp their food, it could be the cause of flatulence. Dog farts caused by aerophagia will contain more atmospheric gases, like oxygen and nitrogen, and less fermentation gasses, which should make their farts a little less smelly.
Some dog breeds are naturally gassy — most commonly, brachycephalic breeds or breeds with shortened noses. These include boxers, bulldogs, mastiffs, and pugs. Part of the reason these breeds are so gassy is their short snout, which makes them swallow more air.
Lack of Exercise
In a survey of pet owners, dogs who got less exercise were more likely to be reported as gassy than their better exercised peers. So that's one more reason to keep our dogs active.
Because digestion plays such a big role in flatulence formation, your dog's food can be an important factor. If your dog has food allergies or a food intolerance, they could become more gassy after they eat the offending food. New food or table scraps that our dogs aren't accustomed to are also more likely to cause our dogs to fart, as are low-quality dog foods.
What to Do About Dog Farts
The best solution for your dog's farting will depend on the cause. If your pup is passing gas in addition to more serious symptoms like diarrhea, vomiting, constipation, loss of appetite, or lack of energy, talk to your vet to rule out underlying health issues.
If you believe your dog farts because of their diet, breed, or other lifestyle issues, try these home remedies to help them pass less gas.
Use a Slow Feeder
If your dog is a speedy eater, you can slow them down and help them swallow less air by incorporating a slow feeder or puzzle bowl. These bowls have obstructions or interior walls that your dog eats around, which makes it harder for them to swallow large mouthfuls of kibble.
Look for a High-Quality Dog Food
Some of the ingredients in low-quality dog food — including fillers like wheat, corn, and soybeans, as well as artificial additives and preservatives — don't sit well with our furry friends. If your dog's current pet food contains a lot of ingredients you don't recognize, swap it out for a high-quality food.
Look for real meat, like chicken, pork, or fish, as the first ingredient. Avoid foods that list meat by-products on the label, and opt for recipes that include easy-to-digest whole grains like brown rice, oats, and barley.
Some dogs can be allergic to gluten, so it helps to avoid recipes that contain wheat. But, we don't recommend grain-free recipes because they often contain legumes like lentils, peas, and beans.
These starchy veggies can be hard to digest. But an even bigger concern is that grain-free diets and diets high in legumes are currently under investigation by the FDA because they've been linked to heart disease in dogs.
Whenever you change your dog's diet, make sure to change it slowly to avoid upsetting your dog's digestive system and making their farting even worse. Follow these guidelines from the Cummings Veterinary Medical Center at Tufts University when you make the switch.
Perform a Food Allergy Test
If switching to a higher quality dog food doesn't clear up your pet's symptoms, try testing them for food allergies. You'll need to switch them to an LID dog food for allergies — make sure you reference the guidelines above to choose a high-quality LID dog food. Switch slowly in this case as well. You can follow these guidelines to perform a dog food allergy test.
Avoid Feeding Table Scraps
While some fruits and veggies are a healthy addition to our dog's diets, many human foods can upset their stomachs. When you feed your dog a new food, don't give them large amounts — feed only a couple of bite-sized pieces and observe them for the next few days to see how they respond.
Only share dog-safe whole foods with your best friend, and avoid dairy products and spicy foods. These are known to upset dogs' digestive tracts.
Add Digestive Supplements
According to the same study reported by Scientific American, a combination of charcoal, yucca schidigera, and zinc acetate helped decrease the stink-level of dog farts (but not the fart frequency). All of these ingredients are available as supplements, but be careful about feeding them to your dog without veterinary supervision. There are no dosing guidelines for how much we can safely feed our furry friends.
An easier alternative might be to look for dog foods that contain yucca schidigera. It's a common ingredient in many high-quality pet foods.
You can also support your dog's overall digestive system with probiotics and pumpkin for dogs. According to current research, probiotics can help ease gastrointestinal issues, IBD, and allergy symptoms in dogs.
Pumpkin is a good source of fiber for dogs that helps keep their digestive system running smoothly. Veterinarians often recommend pumpkin when dogs have an upset stomach.
Using probiotics and pumpkin can help promote digestive health. Better digestion can lead to fewer dog farts.
Make Sure Your Dog Gets Plenty of Exercise
Because a sedentary lifestyle contributes to farting, one of the best things you can do to decrease your dog's flatulence and increase their overall health is to incorporate more exercise. Start a walking or jogging routine, take them to run at the dog park, or simply play fetch in your backyard.
You Can't Be Too Cute to Toot
In spite of how cute our furry friends are, they have some of the same not-so-cute habits as we do. Even a healthy dog farts from time to time, and there's only so much you can do to stop it. But, if your dog farts excessively, take them to the vet to rule out an underlying issue.
Then, you can try switching them to a higher-quality dog food, performing a food allergy test, using a slow feeder, providing more exercise, or integrating all-natural pet supplements — like probiotics and pumpkin — to promote healthy digestion. Start with those steps and you'll be on the road to a less flatulent furry friend.
For more information on your dog's health and wellness, check out the Native Pet blog.