Neuse River Golden Retiever Rescue
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Love Stinks?

by Katie McKay | Jan 11, 2015

Picture it, you’re all sitting around as a family and all of a sudden a horrible odor fills the air.  “It was the dog,” a long-standing joke and proxy for the blame game of “who dunnit?”  Thanks to Pixar’s adorable little Minions, there has been a renewed hilarity in jokes about who cut the cheese as evidenced by the Fart Blasters on my nieces’ Christmas Lists. But sometimes it’s not all fun and games.  Flatulence isn’t usually a sign of serious illness, but it can be enough of a nuisance to have pet owners asking what can be done.  Sorry, human family members can fight their own battles.

What would a blog be without a little science lesson?  When you eat something, the digestion process starts right away with enzymes in your mouth (saliva) and continues in the stomach where stomach acid breaks everything down into small bits.  Digested food from the stomach is then pumped in to the small intestine where it is mixed with enzymes from the liver (bile) and the pancreas (amylase, lipase).  These chemicals break molecules in the digested food making them usable by the body.  These tiny forms of nutrients pass thru the walls of the small intestine and are absorbed into the bloodstream.  Ideally, the leftover material continues on to the large intestine, forming poop or feces. We’re all friends now, we can talk about poop.  The large intestine absorbs water from this material to help prevent dehydration. Once the feces are created, they pass to the colon and are stored.

As you have probably guessed by now if your dog has gas, then food ingredients are usually the culprit. Poorly digested foods that make their way to the intestine and colon are the most common cause of canine flatulence and certain foods can be implicated, but every dog is different so you’ll have to put on your detective hat.  Possibilities range from legumes, peas, soybeans, grains such as corn, wheat, oats, rice or potatoes.  Almost every dog will develop gas from eating fatty foods or spoiled foods, so lock your trash cans and steer clear of table scraps!

If you are convinced the ingredients of their diet is not the issue, there are other behaviors that can increase gas build-up.  Gulping air during meals (fast-eaters), overeating, feeding one large meal a day or free-feeding, lack of exercise or exercising close to mealtime can also contribute. Perhaps you have started a new supplement or medication recently.  It’s a good idea to work with your vet to see if you can change it up or substitute with something else.  Watch out for pig ears, cow hooves and rawhides, these can give dogs impressive gas and also cause diarrhea!

It is normal for dogs to have an occasional bout of gas, but it is not normal for it to occur all the time.  Veterinarians can use Gas-X in dogs, but remember that this is only masking the symptoms and does not give you a cause.  You will still need to do some investigating to figure out what might be triggering their issues. Long-term use of something like Gas-X can also alter the digestive tract enough that it can lead to some serious problems, so remember, this is a helpful aid, but not a problem solver.

So let’s recap.  Your dog has bad gas….enough to clear a room, what can you do about it?

  1. Check your diet plan.  Feed a good high quality dog food.  Don’t forget to check on those treats too! If your dog food or treats are filled with sugars, corn, soy or meat by-products as the first ingredients, switch to a higher quality food.  It will save you money in the long-run.
  2. Check your feed schedule.  Don’t free-feed or feed one large meal.  Slow your dog down if they eat quickly with specialized bowls or Kong toys.
  3. Check your exercise. Healthy exercise not only aids in digestion, it makes them happy and will make you happy and healthy too.  Remember to take it easy before and after meals
  4. Check with your vet. There are probiotics and herbal supplements that can help aid your dog’s digestion process.  They need good bacteria, like acidophilus and bifidus in their gut to help break digested food down appropriately and prevent gassy processes.

Now that you know all these great points about Fluffy’s Flatulence, the next time you have guests over, he/she won’t have to be banished to the yard or the back room. Here’s to keeping the fart blasting coming from plastic toys and minions.

Cheers!

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