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Just like in humans, farting (or flatulence) is caused by a buildup of gas in the intestines. In my house, we've had a standing (or sitting) joke for years—whenever one of us passes gas, we blame it on one of the dogs. In all the years that I have had dogs, though, our malamute Maxwell has raised the bar on farting. I should say he has blown it right off its hinges!
Some dogs pass gas in a way that's like a silent weapon—quiet but deadly. All of a sudden, there is a permeating aroma in the room or the car that you swear is going to make you expire from the smell. It’s so bad that you're sure your eyes are watering and you're becoming sick from the smell. Nothing says hospitality like a toxic cloud enveloping your guests.
Other dogs pass gas audibly. From an early age, Max farted audibly like he was a balloon expelling gas. It definitely got our attention, and I wanted to learn more in order to cut down on the noxious fumes (not to mention the embarrassment of having a dog literally just prancing along farting as his hips swung from side to side). Better yet was when he would assume the sit position or lie down and expel a “symphony” of fart sounds. It began to feel like a gag gift was being used and he wasn’t in on the joke.
According to the AKC and other sources, some of the most common causes are:
This is a natural question to ask, and one for which there may be multiple answers. It may take a little trial and error to figure out what is causing Fido's flatulence. As for us, we determined that Max’s farting had several prominent characteristics.
However, the more we tried to limit all of the above and have the parasite treated, nothing seemed to work. He didn’t particularly have diarrhea, nor did he have vomiting. Our conclusion was that it had to be the food!
We had him on food containing salmon and sweet potato, then we changed him to chicken and potato, and several other foods that were highly recommended by the veterinarian as well as our breeder friends. Nothing seemed to work. In fact, if anything, it seemed that the farting got worse.
We had dogs before over the years that had very sensitive stomachs, and we began to wonder if it was a food allergy. I’m not quite so convinced now that with our other dogs it really was a food allergy. I think especially in larger breed dogs it has more to do with the rate at which they inhale their food and what other things they get into and digest when we aren’t aware.
We did change Max’s food to a more stomach-friendly diet. We always feed our dogs fewer-ingredient foods as that makes more sense. They get snacks with vegetables and fruits so we feel they are getting well-balanced meals and the food is always high quality.
One of the main reasons dogs fart is because they inhale their food. This can not only lead to farting, but in larger-chested dogs, it can lead to a fatal medical condition called bloat, which is a turning of the intestine upon itself (a volvulus). It can sometimes be repaired by very costly surgery but is extremely painful and oftentimes can be fatal. I lost a 14-year-old lab to bloat and it was heartbreaking.
For large-breed dogs especially, since the volume of food that they consume is obviously greater than that for smaller dogs, there are several factors to consider.
There are many methods for slowing down their rate of consumption of food. You can buy special dog bowls such as the one we got for Max (which has worked like a charm). They are called bloat bowls and they effectively make the dog take their time eating the kibble rather than wolfing it down in several bites.
A raised bowl prevents dogs from bending down to the ground to consume/suck in/inhale food. Using such a bowl for food (and even for water) makes it easier for them to get food that is on a level with their mouth rather than at floor level.
That's the biggest culprit in dog farting we've found—the excess gas that can accumulate because they literally inhale their food. We have seen a 95% decrease in Max’s farting since changing his diet to a more intestinal-friendly food and getting the bloat bowl. When he does fart, at least it's not toxic and we don't have to call out the biohazard team.
You can put tennis balls in the middle of their food dish so they have to eat around it. You can also put it on a very large cookie tray and make them eat it.
This method didn't work out very well for me; our big dogs still inhaled their food like a Hoover vacuum cleaner. The idea is just to slow them down and have them take in smaller amounts over a greater period of time, not try frantically to chase it all around the cookie tray!
Even if you don't purchase a bloat bowl, there are other ways to get them to slow down their consumption of food. You can give it to them in a Kong toy or another feeder toy and have them have to work to get at the food, thus slowing them down.
Adding something like yogurt or pumpkin to their diet can also promote good bacteria in the intestines and reduce toxic buildup. Even though yogurt is a dairy product, it miraculously does help dogs’ stomachs encourage good bacterial growth and is recommended by many vets. Check to see what amount is right for your size dog.
This one is pretty much what it sounds like—a bowl or insert that's specially designed to force your dog to eat more slowly. Often they look like a maze, with raised partitions that keep your dog from scarfing down the whole bowl in one go.
We tried probiotics and digestive enzymes for dogs and found that they didn't do anything at all to help Max with his gassy problems. They were just one more thing that he tried to inhale and the farting continued.
In our opinion, the top choice in our war against farts was the bloat bowl and changing his diet to a simpler, more GI-friendly diet.
Some breeds are more farty than others! Here are some of the best of breed farters!
I think Alaskan Malamutes might be nominated to join the blue-ribbon leaders! The key is finding the right diet for the breed as all of them process starches and carbs differently, and then ensuring that you are feeding them in such a way as to give them exactly the right amount of food to achieve their ideal weight and provide adequate nutrients but also ensuring that they do not inhale said food like a vacuum.
Be wary of advertised dog-fart remedies, as these might only serve to mask a more serious problem (such as a parasite or an intestinal illness). While simple supplements or enzymes might not “hurt” your dog, there’s no guarantee that they are really helping or fixing a problem. In fact, some might be doing harm if you don’t know what’s in them or what their long-term effects will be if you give them to your dog.
It’s always best to get to the root of the problem and break it down to its simplest terms. Once we figured out that maybe it was how we were feeding Max and even what we were feeding him, it became a much simpler problem to solve. For him, it became a matter of just giving him a simpler, easier-to-digest food and slowing down his consumption rate. Also, we feed him twice a day rather than once a day. We find that has helped all of our dogs handle the larger quantities of food they need as big dogs.
A fartless world is probably not possible, but at least you can minimize a dog’s fartiness by trying some of these alternatives.
© 2017 Audrey Kirchner
Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on October 01, 2017:
That is a great point to make and confirms what we think as well! Giving processed dog treats really encourages gas production in our large dogs. Something else I did not realize for months was when I was training Griffin as a puppy, I didn't realize that his training treats were part of his daily diet, NOT on top of his diet. We couldn't figure out why he was in gastric distress after training sessions - well I guess we would be too if we were overfed! That's why veggies are such a good alternative as well - as long as they don't make gas and farting worse. Great points, Mary!
Mary Mitchell on September 30, 2017:
I agree with you on the large breed dogs seem to inhale their food. I need to get a different bowel and a higher one for Duke. We changed to feeding morning and night and it seems to help. Duke only has fresh Vegas and fruit for snacks. I have never bought him any processed dog treats. He is now 8 years old and still acts like a puppy.
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Does your dog’s gas have you gasping for air? Can one fart from your dog clear a space? A gassy dog might be kind of funny it’s likewise something even dog enthusiasts can live without. If your dog has particularly bad flatulence, it may suggest a health problem. Find out why some dogs fart a lot and find out how to manage flatulence in your dog.
For the occasional gas, try these herbs and dietary supplements:
Herbs that are carminatives (herbs that relax stomach muscles and relieve intestinal gas) are helpful to stop flatulence in dogs. Here are some carminative herbs that you can easily and safely feed to your dog:
Just sprinkle some of these dried herbs on your dog's food regularly and both your dog and your house may become more aromatic!
Dogs that have excess gas very often have a sluggish digestive system. One reason may be due to insufficient digestive enzymes in their diets. Adding a digestive enzyme supplement to the dog's diet may solve the gassy problem.
Supplementing your dog's diet with probiotics can replenish the GI tract with good friendly bacteria that can help digestion and fix digestion problems such as flatulence.
This natural product contains both digestive enzymes, prebiotics and probiotics that all work to support healthy digestion and effective nutrient absorption, as well as to boost the immune system.
The most common clinical signs include:
If a dog has an underlying malassimilation problem, clinical signs may also include loose stools or diarrhoea, vomiting and weight loss.