Why Is My Dog So Gassy? Why Is My Dog So Gassy? - SitStay

Why Is My Dog So Gassy?

dog smelling a dandelion in a field
Dr. Erica Irish author of why is my dog so gassy

As a veterinarian, I get asked a lot of different questions about animals. My favorite questions pertain to why animals do the things that they do, including bodily functions. Did you know that dogs can flatulate (aka fart) just like humans can? If you have a dog and a strong sense of smell, then you are probably already aware of this fact. But how much gas is normal, and what are some things that can cause an increase in flatulence? When should you be concerned?


Common Reasons for Gas

Like humans and other animals, dogs have a combination of beneficial bacteria and harmful bacteria that can be found inside of their gastrointestinal tract. In a healthy dog, there is more beneficial than harmful bacteria, and these bacteria are important in the process of digesting food. When food is digested, gas is released in small amounts and makes its way down to the colon to later be released through the rectum and anus. Gas can also be swallowed while eating, and some of this gas can contribute to flatulence but is mostly eructated (aka belched). In short, it is normal for dogs to burp and fart each day.

Certain breeds of dogs may burp and fart more than others. Brachycephalic breeds like the English Bulldog and the Boxer are known for their excessive flatulence. This is because of the conformation of their face and lower jaw. Due to their underbites, brachycephalic dogs tend to gulp and swallow more air with their food and water than other dogs, which contributes to more belching and farting. Special bowls and diets with wavy or half-moon shaped kibble have been reported to help decrease excessive air swallowing.

Flatulence can also increase due to problems with the gastrointestinal tract. When a new diet is abruptly introduced, the walls of the digestive tract can become inflamed and becomes a favorable environment for more harmful bacteria than beneficial bacteria. Stress can also contribute to inflammation, and high-fat foods can cause pancreatitis, a condition where the pancreas becomes inflamed and releases digestive enzymes that lead to severe gastrointestinal upset. Milk products may also cause increased flatulence because many adult dogs are lactose intolerant. Dogs tend to have sufficient amounts of lactase as puppies but then lose this digestive enzyme for milk products as they get older.


Clinical Signs of Flatulence

three dogs sitting in grass

The average dog may have audible flatulence anywhere from a few times a day to a few times a week, while brachycephalic dogs are often reported to flatulate more than several times in a day. They can also be very unpleasant to smell! Dogs who are stressed or have an upset stomach will pass gas much more frequently, especially if you are hearing more rumbling sounds coming from your dog’s belly.

One of the more dangerous conditions associated with gas is bloating. This is when your dog’s stomach becomes greatly distended with air. It can be due to eating too fast or too much, having an obstruction, or other problems. These dogs may eventually relieve themselves by belching or flatulating, but dogs that have a bloated stomach for more than a few hours require immediate medical attention.


Possible Diseases

There are many diseases that can lead to increased flatulence in dogs. Here are a few examples:

Enteritis

Enteritis refers to inflammation of the small intestine, which can be caused by stress, diet changes, bacterial infections, viral infections, toxin ingestions, etc. Dogs with enteritis may experience diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal pain.

Intestinal Parasites

Intestinal parasites like roundworm and hookworm can cause inflammation and diarrhea, but some dogs may show no signs at all, and these are two types of parasites that can be passed on to other pets and even people. This is why routine fecal checks are recommended twice a year, even for dogs who are on preventive deworming medications.

Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth

As mentioned above, dogs have bacteria inside of their digestive tract. When there are too many of the harmful bacteria present, this is known as dysbiosis, meaning that there is an imbalance of beneficial to harmful bacteria. SIBO occurs when the harmful bacteria have been present in large numbers for weeks to months, causing chronic diarrhea. Long term use of a therapeutic diet, probiotics, and antibiotics like tylosin and metronidazole are usually recommended.

Irritable Bowel Disease

This refers to chronic inflammation of the digestive tract – especially the colon – and often causes other clinical signs such as vomiting, diarrhea, and weight loss. It is poorly understood what causes this chronic inflammation, but it is theorized that the immune system has a role in it. IBD is diagnosed with biopsy samples from the intestinal tract and is often managed with immunosuppressive medications or steroids. Special therapeutic diets are extremely important and usually have a very low protein content. Turmeric has shown benefits in combating gastrointestinal issues such as IBS in both humans and dogs, and can certainly be a helpful and useful supplement to your dog's diet.

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Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency

EPI is a condition where there are not enough pancreatic enzymes produced for the digestion of fats and carbohydrates and proteins. As a result, dogs tend to lose weight and may have very greasy fatty bowel movements. EPI can be inherited in very young dogs or can be the result of chronic pancreatitis in some cases. German Shepherds are the most common breed affected. A special blood test is used to diagnose it, and pancreatic enzymes will need to be supplemented for life.

Tumors

Dogs can have gastrointestinal cancer such as solitary tumors of the stomach, small or large intestine, or they can also have diffuse cancers like gastrointestinal lymphoma. Dogs with gastrointestinal cancers may start out with simple clinical signs like vomiting and diarrhea, but these clinical signs may not respond to treatments, and your dog may lose weight rapidly. Radiographs and ultrasound are recommended to look for evidence, and sometimes needle aspirate or biopsy testing is necessary for a definitive diagnosis. Prognosis depends on many different factors such as location, staging, recommended treatment, and if there are any other illnesses present. Making a dog's life with a tumor is important, and CBD can do wonders for a dog. It puts them at ease, and makes them more relaxed. While it won't get rid of the tumor, it will definitely lessen their pain and make their life more pleasant throughout their illness.

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How Can I Stop My Dog’s Gas?

Taking your dog to the veterinarian will clear out any possible signs of health issues. If there is a health issue, your veterinarian will help you and your pup get through it as easily as possible. If you’ve taken your dog to the vet, and they ruled out any health issue, they may still have recommendations for making your dog less gassy. In terms of treating the gas issue by yourself, there are some steps you can take.

Don’t Give Your Dog Table Scraps

Human foods are just that, for humans. While there are many fruits and vegetables, as well as meats, that are okay for a dog’s diet, many of our fully-prepared meals are not suitable for a dog and can cause gastrointestinal issues. If you’re going to treat your pup to some tasty fruits and vegetables, keep those times intentional and planned, rather than tossing scraps from the dinner table.

Keep Your Dog Out of the Trash

Everything smells scrumptious to a dog, even those week old scraps in the bottom of the trash. Keeping your dog out of the trash will make sure that they’re not getting into anything they aren’t supposed to, especially things that can cause gas.

Slowly Change Your Dog’s Food

If you’ve identified your dog’s gas as a result of their food and you want to change it, do so slowly. Changing their food “cold-turkey” can really upset their stomach, and cause their gassy issues to increase. Changing their food slowly will give them a chance to acclimate to the new food, without causing stomach issues.


It is normal for dogs to pass gas, but sometimes an increase in frequency can indicate a problem. Often, your dog may just need a probiotic, special food, and an antibiotic for a few days. Take note of important things like your dog’s diet history and check in with your veterinarian to see if there may be another cause.


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Meet The Author 

Dr. Erica Irish

Erica has worked in the veterinary field since 2006, starting out as a veterinary technician before graduating from the UF College of Veterinary Medicine in 2013. As a general practitioner in an animal hospital, she has many interests and is especially interested in dermatology, cardiology, internal and integrative medicine