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Why Does My Dog Fart? (Dog Gas Explained)

Posted February 25, 2015 in Dog Diseases & Conditions A-Z

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Have you ever had the experience of entertaining guests or perhaps just relaxing in front of the television when suddenly you become aware of a very unpleasant odor perhaps preceded by a “toot?” All animals “pass gas,” including humans, and it is common to blame the dog for these episodes of nearly toxic odors. Well, indeed the dog is sometimes to blame. The question is, “Is this just an inconvenience or is there some sort of GI disease to blame?”

In some cases the associated odor can be so unpleasant as to interfere with the bond between pet and owner. A recent article in DVM360 Magazine, by Ed Kane, PhD states, “Persistence in finding the cause and crafting a solution can help keep owners content and your canine patients in their homes.” The term for the unpleasant condition that is commonly accepted in proper conversations is "Flatus" or "Flatulence" referring to excess gas from the GI tract being expelled through the anus. 

Flatus, a byproduct of bacterial fermentation may be associated with dietary causes among other things. Claudia Kirk, DVM, DACVN, DACVIM, a professor at the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine, believes some eating habits can promote aerophagia or swallowing of air which might lead to flatulence. Many veterinarians like Jillian Haines, DVM, MS, assistant professor of small animal internal medicine at Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine, disagree with that theory, sighting little evidence, and believe that aerophagia does not appear to affect whether or not an animal would fart.

Is diet a cause of dog farts?
Indigestible carbohydrates as well as high meat products can result in foul smelling gases, reports Kane. His article also says flatulence can be associated with beans, soybeans, eating feces and eating table scraps. Joe Wakshlag, DVM, PhD, DACVIM, DAVCSMR, associate professor of clinical nutrition at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, recommends that owners curb table foods and treats to 10 to 20 percent of total energy intake1.

Can dog farts be an indication of gastrointestinal disease?
Incomplete digestion and absorption (malabsorption) can result in excess gas and is associated with a number of conditions including ulcerative colitis and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)2,3.  Dr. Haines says that, “With IBD, the GI tract is infiltrated with inflammatory cells such as lymphocytes and plasmacytes. The inflammation leads to alterations in intestinal contents and disruptions of normal microflora, potentially causing bacterial overgrowth, which affects the intestine’s ability to absorb nutrients normally.”

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Mike has more than 35 years of experience in companion animal veterinary practice and is a valued member of IDEXX’s Pet Health Network team since 2013.