A closer look: Flatulence in Dogs
Flatulence describes the normal function of expelling excess gas from the body and is an everyday occurrence in all dogs.
Conditions that result in excessive flatulence are often mild, or self limiting such as intestinal inflammation, dietary changes, or indiscretions.
In rare cases increased flatulence may be symptomatic of a more serious underlying condition such as intestinal tumors. Dogs with sudden changes in the frequency, volume, or odor of flatulence benefit from prompt investigation.
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Flatulence is the result of excess gas in the intestinal tract. Underlying causes can be categorized according to how the gas arrives in the intestines.
Excessive consumption of air is associated with:
- Eating too quickly
- Short nosed (brachycephalic) breeds who ingest air due to increased respiratory effort
Fermentation within the tract is associated with eating beans, legumes, and milk.
The severity of flatulence depends on the underlying cause.
Excessive air consumption normally results in mildly increased flatulence which often doesn’t have an odor, whereas moderate flatulence is a common feature of inflammatory bowel disease.
Infections, acute intestinal inflammation, or tumors sometimes result in severe, persistent, foul-smelling flatulence.
Testing and diagnosis
If flatulence is persistent or concerning enough to warrant veterinary attention, investigation may include:
- Physical examination
- Blood work
- Fecal samples -Intestinal biopsies -X-rays -Abdominal ultrasound -Endoscopy
Treatment depends on the underlying cause. Recommendations may include:
- Encouraging an active lifestyle
- Feeding smaller meals more often
- Using a slow feeder to reduce the speed of eating
- Allowing dogs to eat in a noncompetitive environment
- Discouraging scavenging behavior
- Changing to a highly digestible diet
- Medications to reduce gas production
- Probiotics and other supplements
Treatment of the underlying disease process, if present, may include:
- Antiparasitic medication
- Antibiotic medication
- Immunomodulatory medication
- Medical or surgical treatment of intestinal tumors
Increased flatulence is usually an obvious symptom. Anal gland issues such as infection, or impaction sometimes result in an odor coming from the anus which may be confused with passing gas. Other causes of odor around the rear end include skin infections or fecal matter trapped in the fur.
Some causes of increased flatulence occur as a single symptom. Other cases may be found alongside other symptoms.