Have you ever said 'it's not me, it's my dog!'?
Dogs are quite well known for being flatulent and on occasion creating the most embarrassing of situations as a result. Which leads us to wonder, is it a sign that something's wrong and if so, what can you do to eliminate, or at least reduce it? Or are certain breeds simply more prone than others?
What we discovered is that there are two groups of dogs that tend to be windier than most.
Interestingly, most of the gas that dogs produce comes from swallowed air. This gas moves down the gastrointestinal tract and is then expelled as wind, so it makes sense that dogs who swallow the most air will produce the most gas. Even so, it's worthwhile spending time to make sure your dog's diet is best suited to their digestive needs.
Type 1 - Dogs who are speedy eaters
Brachycephalic breeds such as the Bulldog, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier and the Boxer have a short nose and their mouth can be overcrowded with teeth, so eating can be less than graceful. The result is that they often swallow a mouthful of air with each mouthful of food.
Dogs that are enthusiastic eaters and inhale their meals usually take in air with each hurried mouthful of food. One breed that comes to mind when we think about food loving dogs is the Labrador. Active working dogs that eat while still panting can also swallow air as they gobble their dinner.
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Type 2 - Dogs who have sensitive stomachs
Dogs with gastrointestinal conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease can suffer from bacterial overgrowth in their intestines.
From a technical perspective, these bacteria can produce gas which makes its way down the gastrointestinal tract and out, to assail our nostrils. You may find that if your dog falls into this group, he may also lose weight or have abnormal stools.
If your dog suffers from flatulence and isn’t unwell or losing weight, there are a couple of things you can try.
Firstly, slow down his eating. Offer him two or three meals a day instead of one large one. If he doesn’t have much to eat in one sitting, he’s less likely to gulp down air with it. You may also want to try one of the specially designed food bowls with bumps on the bottom or a raised dog bowl.
If your dog has to nibble his food from between the bumps, he can’t possibly eat fast enough to swallow air with it. If you have more than one dog, feed them in different rooms so there is no sense of competition and they’re less likely to eat quickly. Secondly, try a change in diet.
An inflammatory bowel condition or a food allergy may respond to switching to a diet more suited to their needs or you might just find switching to a different diet, perhaps a more natural one, suits their digestive systems better.
While flatulence is unpleasant or embarrassing if you have to explain that it's your dog who's the culprit, it’s not necessarily an indication that something is wrong with your much loved canine family member.
As always though, if you’re concerned, then have a chat with your vet. However, if your dog is otherwise bright and active with a good appetite, then try the dietary changes suggested above.
They may make enough of a difference so your dog is again welcome to share your home without you needing to wear a gas mask or apologise on his behalf!