Facts About Flatulence in Dogs (and Cats) You Need to Know

5 Things You Should Know About Gassy Pets

Tired dog on sofa still watching
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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.

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, 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.

Go through this checklist to see if your pet exhibits any of the following issues.

  • Not eating
  • Depressed or lethargic
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • 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.

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: This includes corn, wheat, potatoes, barley, rice, and others.
  • Legumes: Pay attention to 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.

Eating Too Fast May Cause Gas

Do you have a dog that gulps down its 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 and belching are possible, as is flatulence. Bloat (Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus) is also a concern.

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.

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, or 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 and Mylanta Gas).