Flatulence is as common in dogs and cats as it is in humans. It happens. Sometimes it goes unnoticed whereas other times may have you wondering if there is a pile of something to clean up. While the joke is to "blame the dog," cats may also experience flatulence.
Is gas a health problem? Usually not, but here are five things you should know about flatulence in pets, and if it is something to be concerned about.
1. It Might Not Be Gas
The first question to ask is: how is your pet feeling overall? If your pet is exhibiting any of the following, please check in with your vet to see if it is ok to watch and wait or if it is necessary to rule out a medical problem.
- Not eating
- Depressed or lethargic
- Loud gut sounds
- Painful abdomen
- Pacing, panting, anxious
If you answered "no" to the above checklist, it is important to know that sometimes normal anal sac secretions (as well as diarrhea) on the hair coat or tail mimic the odors of flatulence. Check the tail and hair coat for evidence of stinky substances.
2. Certain Foods May Cause Gas
The potential gas-causing foods are many, and what causes problems for one pet may not affect another pet at all. Close observation and keeping track of what foods do not digest well for your pet will help avoid future flatulence.
Here are some common culprits:
- Protein source - Your pet may not tolerate chicken, fish, or other protein sources well, leading to pockets of intestinal gas.
- Carbohydrates and grains - corn, wheat, potatoes, barley, rice, and others.
- Legumes - beans, including peas and soybeans.
It should be noted that pets who get into the garbage - consuming spoiled foods, wrappers, and other items - will likely have gas. They will also probably not be feeling well and warrant veterinary attention as soon as possible.
3. Eating Too Fast May Cause Gas
The dog who gulps down their food so fast, barely chewing? This may be a gassy dog. Dogs who ingest food this fast may also be swallowing air down with their food, and that air has to go somewhere. Burping/belching are possible, as is flatulence. Bloat (Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus) is also a concern.
One way to help dogs slow down their eating is by using a product like Brake-Fast® bowl.
4. Treats, Chew Toys, Medications and Nutritional Supplements
This is the "everything else" category for what your pet may be consuming. The key here, same as the foods category, is to note when the gas started or is a problem and eliminate the item or supplement if possible.
If the suspected gas-causing item is a medication or nutritional supplement prescribed or recommended by your veterinarian, discuss this with your vet to see if there are any treatment alternatives that your pet is better able to digest.
Note: some medications, such as intestinal parasite dewormers, may cause temporary gas - that is normal for a few hours.
5. There Is Help for Gassy Pets
In addition to all of the considerations above, there are other options for helping your flatulent pet when all else fails:
- Probiotics - Healthy Bacteria: For pets who are feeling fine (not lethargic, vomiting, otherwise sick) and do not have special dietary or medication concerns, a dollop of plain or vanilla yogurt will help calm down gassy guts. There are also several brands of probiotics (beneficial intestinal bacteria) for pets that contain dog- and cat-specific microbes to enhance gut health.
- Intestinal Gas-reducers: Over-the-counter aids to reduce intestinal gas include: Enzyme-based supplements (popular trade name: Beano®) or simethicone-based medicines (popular trade names: GasX®, Mylanta® Gas).
Please speak to your veterinarian first about dosing and possible side effects for your pet before using over-the-counter medications. Many medications for humans contain sugars or aspartame (in addition to other medical ingredients) that may be harmful to your pet.
Please note: this article has been provided for informational purposes only. If your pet is showing any signs of illness, please consult a veterinarian as quickly as possible.