The occasional toot is one thing to tolerate, but if your pup is stinking up the place on a regular basis, it could be a sign of something more serious. "Any time a dog has malodorous flatulence it is an indication that something in the diet does not agree with the dog," says Dr. Judy Morgan, a veterinarian at Clayton Veterinary Associates in New Jersey. "Most people laugh about it, but it really does signify something is not right with digestion." To help out our fellow humans who are holding their noses, we talked to Dr. Morgan about the potential reasons your pup is so gassy and what you can do to prevent it.
They're eating unhealthy things
Your pup's diet is probably the number one cause for their gas. Food high in carbohydrates can be one culprit: "I never recommend dry kibble due to the high carbohydrate content and lack of moisture in the diet," says Dr. Morgan. Foods that are high in fiber or fattening such as beans and dairy should also be avoided because dogs lack the enzymes to break them down, leading to fermentation and gas. What can help? A meat-based diet will aid in digestion because it's loaded with enzymes. Adding in organic, fat-free yogurt with active cultures also promotes healthy digestion. And consider giving your pup a probiotic: "The good bacteria will help with normal digestion of food to keep the bowels healthy," Morgan adds.
They're genetically predisposed to it
Certain breeds are unfortunately more prone to tooting than others: Bulldogs, Pugs and Boxers are Brachycephalic breeds, meaning that they have a short nose and flat face which leads to swallowing too much air while eating (thus causing gas!) In particular, Bulldogs tend to have digestive issues and "do not do well on high-carbohydrate diets in general," notes Morgan. Other gassy breeds include Mastiffs, German Shepherds and Labrador Retrievers. Not much you can do to control your pup's natural propensity to fart, other than giving them healthy, high quality food and making sure they exercise regularly.
They're overweight and out of shape
Pups that don't get a lot of exercise and are carrying an extra amount of weight around are also prone to excess gas. That's because being active increases motility in dogs, thus helping the digestive tract stay healthy. "Exercise helps keep the bowel actively moving, which helps decrease gas production," explains Morgan. So, grab the leash and hit the streets!
They're eating too fast
If your pup finishes their food faster than you can say "sit," that might be causing the farts. According to Morgan, "Gulping food can lead to swallowing air which can increase gas in the bowel." One solution: buying a bowl that forces your dog to slow down when they're eating like this one which has three center posts for your pup to navigate around. Another recommendation is to feed your dog smaller, more frequent meals over the course of the day. "This will allow the food to pass through the bowel more consistently without having to digest a large volume at one time," Morgan explains.
There's a more serious medical issue
Sometimes, gas can be a warning sign that your pup has a bigger GI issue, such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Some breeds (ahem, Bulldogs) are more prone to medical issues surrounding the stomach, but no pup is immune. According to Morgan, there are even more serious causes of gas, including gastric dilatation and volvulus syndrome. "While less common, excessive gas in the small bowel can lead to small bowel volvulus (twist) which is pretty deadly," she adds. If you suspect that your pup has a major GI issue, make an appointment with your vet to address your concerns.