It is normal for dogs to pass some gas, but excessive gas usually reveals intolerance by the dog to some part of his diet.
To begin, inferior-quality dog foods may have excessive fat and are made up of ingredients that result in difficult digestibility. Poorly digestible ingredients pass unabsorbed through the small intestine and end up in the colon, where they require fermentation to break down. This fermentation produces varying amounts of gas.
Flatulence can also occur if a dog eats large amounts of fat, excessive amounts of food, or lacks the ability to digest certain ingredients (for example lactose-intolerant dogs). In addition, excessive gas is also seen in dogs who lack regular exercise. Flatulence is also common in animals who eat rapidly, causing the ingestion of large quantities of air. Once taken in, ingested air in the gastrointestinal tract can be removed only by flatulence or by belching.
Strategies to reduce flatulence in dogs include lowering fat intake, switching to higher-quality diets with more digestible content, and providing regular exercise. Exercise improves blood supply and circulation, promotes muscle tone, and preserves more regular defecation.
If your dog has to compete with other dogs for his meals, you may want to feed him alone so he’s less stressed and hurried when eating. You can also mix the food with water, which reduces the gulping of air when chewing and swallowing. Finally, serving smaller meals during the day may also help to reduce flatulence.
Your veterinarian may recommend dietary changes and medications that reduce or absorb gas production and prevent constipation. If excessive flatulence persists, the dog may require a more extensive G.I. work-up. Contact your veterinarian as the problem could be more serious.
Originally published in the Ask Dr. Kevin" column of AKC Family Dog.