TEXTBOOK OF VETERINARY INTERNAL MEDICINE
Client information Series
W. Grant Guilford
Flatulence refers to the anal passage of intestinal gas. It is also known by many other names, including "farting," "passing wind," and "passing gas." Flatulence more com-monly affects dogs than cats and is most often observed in inactive dogs that spend long periods indoors.
It is normal for dogs to pass gas in small quantities at infrequent intervals. However, persistent passage of exces-sive quantities of gas is abnormal. Excessive flatulence usu-ally results from intolerance of one or more components of the pet's diet. This intolerance is most often due to the feeding of a diet of inferior quality containing ingredients of poor digestibility. These ingredients pass through the intesti-nal tract without being absorbed and end up in the large intestine (colon and rectum), where bacteria ferment them to produce gas. Some of these gases do not smell, whereas others, particularly those derived from the fermentation of proteins and fats, smell badly. Flatulence can also occur when a dog eats excessive quantities of food, overwhelming the ability of its gastrointestinal tract to digest the food. Furthermore, some dogs are born without the ability to digest certain ingredients in their diets. For example, many dogs (and cats) have difficulty digesting lactose in milk. Other dogs have trouble digesting some legumes such as soy. Fortunately, flatulence resulting from legumes can be successfully reduced by a variety of manufacturing techniques. Another cause of flatulence is greedy eating resulting in the ingestion of large quantities of air. Once ingested, air has to be removed from the gastrointestinal tract either by burping or by flatulence.
Although flatulence is usually normal, on occasion it can herald more serious gastrointestinal disease, particularly of the small bowel or pancreas. You should seek veterinary advice if the measures listed below fail to control flatulence, if gaseousness appears to be causing your pet abdominal discomfort, or if the flatulence is associated with concurrent vomiting or diarrhea. All of these signs suggest more serious gastrointestinal disease.
The management of flatulence begins with a change to a high-quality (highly digestible) diet without excessive fat content. Suitable commercial products are available from most of the major manufacturers. Alternatively, owners can prepare a homemade diet composed of highly digestible protein and carbohydrate sources such as cottage cheese and rice appropriately balanced with vitamins and minerals.
Homemade diets are less desirable than commercial diets because their long-term use is often associated with nutritional deficiencies or excesses.
Ensuring regular exercise is also helpful because it promotes regular defecation. Reducing the dog's gulping of air by avoiding situations that provoke nervousness and by discouraging greedy eating, for instance, by ensuring that the dog does not have to compete for food, may also be helpful. In the rare event that dietary manipulation is not successful in controlling flatulence, call your veterinarian, because a diagnostic investigation of your pet's digestive system may be required.
Alternatively, your veterinarian may suggest a trial with medications that reduce gas production by assisting digestion, absorbing gas, or assisting the passage of gas.
My comments: excessive gas often indicates bowel problems of various degrees from poor digestion to chronic inflammation. Food intolerance, stress, pancreatitis, too many table scraps, lack of pancreatic enzymes, and intestinal parasites are all associated with gassy pets.
Treatment: no big surprise or miracle treatment here.
If the problem is bad enough to involve your veterinarian, he or she may recommend blood work to rule out possible underlying problems like liver disease, pancreatitis, inflammatory bowel disease and other medical problems.
Otherwise treatment usually consists of some combination of diet change and/or digestive supplements. I like a product called DigestRite. GasX and other products marketed to humans are often helpful.
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Zoonotics: Diseases, worms, and parasites people get from pets.
Includes information about Prescription diets used to treat disease, and a discussion about the pet food industry
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