Has this ever happened to you?
You and the family are sitting around, maybe watching TV, with the dog sleeping at your feet and all is well. Then, without warning, it’s like a mustard gas attack as a terrible aroma fills the room. Everyone starts coughing and maybe clearing out, expressing their displeasure.
The dog looks up at the commotion and seems to be the only one enjoying it, oblivious to the fact that he’s the culprit.
Congratulations! Like countless other dog owners, you’ve just been a victim of the infamous silent but deadly canine flatulence. The “silent” part is a fact of anatomy. Because the usual position of a dog’s rectum is horizontal, their sphincter doesn’t have to be quite as tight as a human’s; our rectums are generally pointing straight down, so we need the extra security.
A looser opening means less resistance, so most dogs are able to pass gas while making little if any sound. So, unlike a human doing the same, dogs rarely give an audible warning of the coming storm.
One French inventor, Christian Poincheval, is now selling a powder that he claims will make pet flatulence smell like flowers, inspired by his earlier creation of pills that will do the same thing for humans in the scents of ginger, chocolate, or roses. So it is possible to turn your dog into a walking air freshener, but what if you want to reduce the frequency and eliminate the odor almost entirely?
Why does it smell bad when dogs pass wind?
Like humans, a dog’s intestines are full of bacteria that feed on the food passing through us and release gas. Depending upon the composition of that gas, the smell can be benign or horrifying — sulphur is a particularly nasty culprit. Also, depending on other factors, a dog can be more or less inclined to flatulence. Here are some of the causes.
What your dog eats
Like humans and the infamous beans, some foods are more likely to make a dog flatulent than others. Things to avoid are beans, cauliflower, cabbage, and soybeans.
Eating low quality food that is full of soy or corn fillers can also cause problems; unlike humans, dogs are not fully adapted to digest vegetable fiber.
Finally, if your dog is lactose intolerant and eats dairy products, this can increase the frequency and foulness of flatulence.
How your dog eats it
In both dogs and humans, a big source of intestinal gas comes from swallowed air, although this kind of flatulence is rarely as smelly. If your dog gulps their food down too quickly, they’ll swallow a lot of air, and there are only two ways for it to come back out — either in a burp from the front end or a belch from the rear.
If your dog eats too quickly, try putting a ball in their bowl or buying a slow feed dog dish, which has raised obstacles in it that will make your dog eat more slowly.
The dog’s breed
Some breeds are more inclined to flatulence than others, as any owner of a boxer will tell you. This tends to be an issue with dogs that have brachycephalic or “pushed-in” faces, like pugs, bulldogs, Pekinese, and Boston terriers; since they breathe through their mouths, they naturally swallow a lot of air.
Other breeds that tend to be gassy include the German shepherd, mastiff, Labrador retriever, Doberman pinscher, poodle, and beagle. If you own one of these breeds, then maybe that powder to give them a pleasant scent might not be a bad idea.
If your dog is suddenly excessively gassy, it may be due to a medical condition. Possible causes include pancreatitis, liver disease, or food allergy or intolerance, particularly to lactose or grain.
If your dog also has diarrhea, vomiting, or loss of appetite in combination with excess flatulence, it’s time to make a visit to the vet.
Parasites, like intestinal worms, can also make the problem worse, so it’s a good idea to talk to your vet about possibly prescribing a broad spectrum intestinal wormer for your dog every three months.
Deodorizing your dog
If your dog is regularly gassing you out of the house, there are steps you can take.
Better quality food
Feed your dog the highest quality food you can afford, high in protein and without fillers like corn, wheat, or soy.
Yoghurt with live culture can help adjust the balance of bacteria in your dog’s gut, as can canine probiotics available from your vet, leading to lower production of volatile gasses.
Also avoid giving your dog human food, especially if it’s fatty, sugary, or high in carbs, and cut down on the dog treats — more to digest equals more to expel.
In all cases, though, remember to make changes to your dog’s diet gradually. They do not adapt as quickly as humans do to new food. Also, try to limit the variety. Bouncing from chicken to beef to lamb and back constantly can contribute to your dog’s gassiness.
Exercise, exercise, exercise
Not only is exercise crucial to having a balanced dog, it can help them have a balanced digestive system. Exercise stimulates the intestines to do their job efficiently, and the more efficient digestion is, the less gas will be produced in the process.
Take plenty of time for the walk and outdoor playtime and don’t worry if it doesn’t work at first — it’s much better to be outside with your dog than inside when she lets loose with a barn burner.
Obesity can be a contributing factor in excess flatulence in any breed, so if your dog is overweight, work with your vet and design a diet and exercise program together to help him lose weight and develop a healthy balance of intestinal bacteria.
A breath of fresh air
A dog’s gas will never naturally smell like roses and rainbows, but it also doesn’t have to reek like a slaughterhouse inside of a burning sewage treatment plant. With a few simple steps, you should be able to reduce the volume and the aroma, and take the “deadly” out of “silent.” Your nose — and your dog — will thank you.
Has your dog ever embarrassed you with her farting? Tell us all about it in the comments