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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Flatulence in dogs is normal, usually harmless -- but sometimes needs a clinician's help

'Are there any specific issues that I need to be aware of with regard to your pet?', is a question that I ask with regard to any new-to-me animal that will be in my care.

One of the most common replies elicits a giggle or two on my part, and a word of reassurance which usually sets an embarrassed pet owner at ease.

'Well... they have really bad gas. I hope that's not a problem.'

I'm definitely no stranger to the effluvious side of caring for pets.

Flatulence in dogs is common. In some dogs, it seems to be more odorous than others. In any case, gas can occur for a lot of reasons which are mostly simple and harmless.

Gas occurs either when an excessive amount of air is swallowed due to being a brachycephalic dog (as in the case of bulldogs or pugs), having a respiratory condition or in those dogs that gulp down their food – but gas is most commonly produced in the intestine. In the latter case, stomach contents, which are acidic, meet the more alkaline small intestine, and then fluid and carbon dioxide result. Most of the carbon dioxide is distributed into the vascular system, but some is left in the intestines.

The unpleasant smell associated with gas is caused by bacteria in the intestine that reduce sulfur in amino acids, as well as nuts and other plant-based foods.

Diet can increase the incidence of gas. Commercial diets can contain some things that prove to be hard to digest, like some proteins and carbohydrates, and ingredients that are used to improve texture, like carrageenan. Of course, cruciferious vegetables like broccoli can contribute.

Lack of activity can exacerbate flatulence in dogs, and it's thought that consuming too much fat can be a contributing factor.

In working with your clinician, any food sensitivities can be identified to help mitigate the occurrence of troublesome gas. Aside from feeding the right food, smaller but more frequent meals may help, as well as exercise.

Should any dietary changes not yield any favorable results, your vet can rule out any underlying medical issues that could be at the root.

Lorrie Shaw is a freelance writer and owner of Professional Pet Sitting. Shoot her an email, contact her at 734-904-7279 or follow her adventures on Twitter.

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