All dogs experience gas from time to time. Some are gassier than others, but the occasional bout of flatulence is usually no cause for concern. Although it may be cause for opening a window!
We’ll explain everything you need to know below, including the primary causes of gas in dogs, the best ways to reduce the frequency of your dog’s farts, and when you should seek veterinary attention for your flatulent dog.
Reasons Your Dog Is Suddenly Gassy: Key Takeaways
- A moderate amount of gas is normal for dogs. Most mammals will expel gas from time to time, and your dog is no different. However, sudden changes in the quantity of your dog’s farts or the odor associated with them may be cause for concern.
- There are a variety of things that can cause excess gas in your pooch. Swallowing air, eating greasy or high-fiber foods, and minor stomach bugs are a few of the most common causes, but serious issues, including things like gastrointestinal tumors — can also cause sudden or unusual flatulence.
- You’ll want to see your vet if your dog’s excess gas production lasts more than a few days or is associated with other symptoms. Your vet can help identify the cause, determine its severity, and recommend a prudent treatment, if necessary.
Why Your Dog May Have Gas: Three Fundamental Reasons
There are a million specific things that may cause dogs to suffer from gas, but almost each and every one falls under one of three fundamental umbrellas.
We’ll discuss each of these three categories – and some of the best solutions to them — below.
1. Swallowing Excess Air
Many dogs suffer from gas for the same reason many people do: They inadvertently swallow a lot of air. When humans suffer this problem, it is usually because they’ve consumed a lot of carbonated beverages, chewed gum all morning, or developed the nervous habit of subconsciously swallowing air.
When dogs do it, it’s usually the result of eating too quickly.
This is especially true of dogs who gulp their food at warp speed or eat right after exercising. But other dogs – particularly nervous individuals – can end up swallowing air no matter how slowly they eat.
Dogs can end up swallowing a lot of air for other reasons too.
Brachycephalic breeds, such as bulldogs, pugs, and others with short faces, often swallow a lot of air as a side-effect of their unusual anatomy. Some other dogs may swallow air due to the presence of respiratory diseases.
- Use a feeding dish designed to slow your dog down at meal times. Slow feed dog dishes can stop your dog from inhaling his dog food the minute you set the kibble bowl down. If your dog eats slower, he’ll likely swallow less air, which will decrease the amount of air he has to expel.
- Feed your dog multiple small meals, rather than one large meal each day (this is actually good advice for most dogs). If you feed your dog only once per day, he’ll likely be ravenous during meal times, which will cause him to slurp up his food as fast as he can. But if you spread out his daily caloric allotment, he won’t be famished when he feasts.
- Do everything you can to soothe stressed or anxious pups. There are a variety of ways to relax a nervous pooch, but some of the most effective solutions include providing more exercise, setting your dog up with a cozy crate, giving your dog fun things to do while you’re away to prevent boredom, and fitting your pet with an anxiety-reducing tight-fitting garment.
The foods your dog eats can also cause your dog to suffer from gas. In some cases, gas is due to the ingredients present in the food, but it can also be a reflection of the food’s quality.
For example, foods that contain oat bran, psyllium, or legumes are all notorious for producing a lot of gas, and they’re present in a number of commercial foods. Foods high in fiber may also cause your dog to suffer from gas.
Homemade dog foods containing broccoli or other cruciferous canine-friendly vegetables can also cause your dog to sound like a living whoopie cushion.
Low-quality foods may also cause a lot of gas, thanks to their reliance on poorly digestible carbohydrates. Some dogs may also suffer from a variety of digestive issues (including flatulence and a gurgling, noisy stomach) if their diet is changed abruptly. Fortunately, this kind of problem usually resolves on its own over time.
- Pick a higher-quality dog food. Assuming your dog isn’t suffering from health problems that require him to eat a specific type of diet, you can often reduce the amount of gas that pours out his back end by switching to a higher-quality food, a low-fiber food, or a dog food designed for dogs with gas issues.
- Tweak your homemade recipe. We always recommend that owners use caution when feeding their dog homemade meals, as it is exceedingly difficult to provide a properly balanced diet. However, if your homemade recipe is making your dog gassy, consider using fewer beans and cruciferous vegetables.
- Make sure you transition foods gradually. If you decide that you need to switch your dog’s diet to reduce the amount of gas he produces, do so slowly, by mixing in increasingly large amounts of his new food with his old one. Completely changing your dog’s diet should take place over about a week’s time.
- Cut back on the human foods and treats. The occasional treat or bit of dog-safe people food is usually not a huge problem, but these kinds of foods can make some dogs gassy. So, ease up on the French fries and bites of chicken and see if that helps reduce the amount of gas your dog creates.
- Consider food allergies if your dog is frequently gassy. Food allergies typically cause skin and coat problems for dogs, but in some cases, they can also cause excess gas production. So, if your dog’s gas never seems to abate, you may want to take him into the vet and have him evaluated for food allergies and consider a hypoallergenic dog food. Fortunately, this is often one of the easier causes of gas to fix.
3. Health Problems
In addition to the causes mentioned above, health problems can also cause your dog to produce a lot of gas. Some of these problems are relatively mild and easy to treat, while others can be quite serious.
For example, an overgrowth of bacteria in your dog’s intestines can cause him to start farting all over the place. This is usually easy for your vet to treat with a course of antibiotics, and probiotics may even help clear up such problems. Intestinal parasites can also cause flatulence in some cases, but they’re easy to eradicate with the proper worming medication.
On the other hand, flatulence can also be the result of serious problems like intestinal tumors or problems related to your pup’s pancreas. These types of issues are treatable in some cases, but they’ll typically require pretty significant veterinary care.
Ironically, some medications used to treat health problems may also cause dogs to suffer from gas.
- First thing’s first: Visit your vet. If you suspect that your dog’s gas is caused by a medical problem, you’ll need your vet’s help to fix it. Your vet may rule out any medical causes and simply advise you to switch foods or reduce the amount of air he swallows, but it is also possible that your pet will need medication or surgery to address the issue.
- Be sure to tell your vet about your dog’s diet and any medications he’s taking. Your vet will likely ask about these things during the course of your office visit but be sure to bring them up if he or she doesn’t.
- Make sure that you explain the frequency and onset of your dog’s gas to the vet. As you can surely tell by now, there are a variety of reasons your dog can suffer from gas, so your vet is going to have to do some sleuthing to figure out the cause. Do your best to support his or her efforts by explaining the onset and frequency of the gas, as well as anything else you can think of.
Does a Bad Smell Indicate a Problem? What Does It Mean If My Dog’s Gas Smells Like Sulfur?
You probably already know this, but dog gas is often stinky enough to make your eyes water. In fact, canine flatulence comes in several “flavors” (apologies for that imagery).
Sometimes, it’ll smell vaguely poop-like, but it can also reek of rotten eggs or sulfur.
The degree to which your dog’s farts make you want to evacuate your home is primarily related to the reason for the gas. Gas caused by swallowed air typically doesn’t stink very much at all – after all, it’s primarily comprised of the same air already inside your home.
But flatulence caused by problematic foods is often a different story – this type of gas often smells terrible. Feed a dog some greasy meat or a few sprigs of broccoli and you may need to banish him to the backyard for a week (that’s a joke – don’t do that to your pet. After all, it’s often your fault he’s stinking up the place in these cases.)
The primary reason this type of gas smells bad is that the bacteria in your dog’s gut are digesting some of the food. The bad odor is caused by the gases these bacteria release as part of their digestive processes.
Fortunately, these types of gas will usually pass within a day or two, assuming you eliminate the cause. But if the super-smelly farts persist, they may indicate a medical problem. This is especially true if they seem to have come from out of nowhere and last for several days or weeks.
What Can I Give My Dog For Gas?
Medications may occasionally be helpful for treating gas that is caused by health problems, so it is important to visit your vet if you suspect that your dog’s gas is caused by a bona fide ailment. However, there aren’t very many medical options available to treat the gas of an otherwise-healthy pup.
Many owners are eager to give their flatulent dog Gas-X (simethicone), but this won’t help.
Gas-X (and similar medications) doesn’t reduce the amount of gas present – it simply helps reduce the pain and discomfort often associated with gas. They accomplish this by accelerating the rate at which tiny gas bubbles in the intestine merge to form big gas bubbles. This makes it easier for your dog’s intestines to expel the gas present.
If you give Gas-X to a dog who is already farting up a storm, it’s just going to make it easier for him to further contaminate the air in your home.
However, Gas-X can be helpful in some cases. For example, it may help provide relief to dogs who are suffering from abdominal pain. It may even help save the lives of dogs experiencing bloat. But you should always contact your vet before administering this (or any other) medication to your pet. Gas-X is dangerous for some dogs, including many collies and other herding breeds.
But while there aren’t many medical solutions to the stinky gas caused by dietary indiscretions, probiotics may help in some cases.
Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that are thought to help promote proper digestive function. They can also outcompete some of the bacteria in your dog’s GI tract that are producing methane, which will help reduce the amount of gas (and the associated odors) your doggo experiences. As a bonus, probiotics may help address diarrhea and other intestinal problems too.
There are a number of probiotics on the market and picking one from the litany of options can be overwhelming to some owners. But we’re here to help: Just take a look at our comprehensive canine probiotic review, where we whittle things down a bit for you.
Do You Need to Take a Gassy Dog to the Vet?
Gas – even incredibly stinky gas – is rarely cause for concern. Like we said at the outset, all dogs suffer from the occasional bout of flatulence, and some dog breeds are gassier than others. It’s a normal bodily function.
However, in some cases, it may signal the presence of an underlying health problem. There aren’t any clear rules regarding when to seek veterinary attention, so you’ll simply have to use your best judgment and try to act in your dog’s best interest.
To do so, consider the following:
- Has your dog produced always produced foul-smelling gas? If so, it’s unlikely that he’s suffering from a serious health problem. In all likelihood, this kind of gas is the result of a poor diet, frequent treats, or a simple predisposition to produce stinky gas. All dogs are individuals, and some simply appear more likely to stink up your home than others.
- Have you recently switched your dog’s food or started offering a new type of treat? If you change your dog’s diet and he becomes gassy shortly thereafter, you probably don’t need a degree in veterinary medicine to determine the cause.
- Did the gas arise suddenly and without an obvious cause? You probably want to visit the vet if your dog suddenly begins producing foul-smelling gas that lasts for more than a few days. This kind of gas may indicate the presence of an underlying health problem.
What If My Dog Has Bad Gas and Diarrhea?
If your dog is suffering from constipation or diarrhea in conjunction with the gas, the two symptoms are likely related.
Treat this kind of issue as you would any other minor intestinal problem: Withhold food for about 24 hours and see if the problem resolves on its own.
If the diarrhea or constipation lasts for longer than 48 hours, or your dog exhibits any other troubling signs (such as pain, bloating, fever, or depression) go ahead and visit your vet.
Gas is a fact of life for dog owners. You just have to accept the fact that your dog is going to let one rip from time to time. It’s typically no cause for concern. Just be sure to visit your vet if your Spidey sense starts tingling or you suspect that your pup is suffering from an underlying medical condition.
My Rottie can certainly make your eyes water. Fortunately, her farts are usually audible, which is pretty nice, as most dog gas is of the silent-but-deadly variety. If I’m quick, I can usually dive out of the room before I start gasping for breath.
What about your pooch? Do you have a gassy pup? Have you figured out what causes his gas? Have you been able to do anything to limit the amount of gas he produces? Tell us all about your experiences in the comments below!