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Flatulence In Pets

A basic understanding :

Primarily it is important to make clear that flatulence is a perfectly normal function of digestion. Flatulence, or colonic gas formation, is a result of normal bacterial fermentation in the large bowel (colon). Normal healthy animals have a large population of "good bacteria", called pro-biotics, that exist in the colon, and live on (ferment) faecal matter in the bowel. As a result of the fermentation, they produce essential vitamins that are absorbed back into the animals system.

Naturally flatulence is not much of an issue if your dog lives outside, but it can become a distinct problem with indoor pets, or on a long car journey.

Excessive flatulence:

As a general rule, colonic bacteria feeding on carbohydrate, produce a non-smelly gas, whereas those that ferment proteins, especially cooked meat protein, will produce sulphur dioxide gas (the classic rotten egg gas). So the type and volume of gas produced is due to a combination of dietary ingredients, and the relative ratios of the different types of colonic bacteria. An excess of gas formation is due to an imbalance in the levels of colonic bacteria. Certain food groups will favour the development of "putrefactive" bacteria (smelly gas forming bacteria), which includes beans, dairy products, cooked meat, and certain vegetables (cabbage, broccoli, potatoe), all of which may be found in the ingredients of many commercial pet foods.

What can you do ?

Conventional treatment for excessive flatulence has been to give activated charcoal (powder or tablets) to absorb the gas. However, recent cancer research has shown all charcoals to be highly carcinogenic, and as such, it can no longer be recommended.

I generally advise switching your pet to a natural raw diet, and experimenting with the ingredients to get a good match. Also, repopulating the bowel using a pro-biotic supplement (live culture yoghurt, or more recently, a specific veterinary pro-biotic called Protexin), can be very effective. There are also a few natural ingredients that can lessen smelly flatulence, like raw garlic, fennel, aniseed, ginger, or peppermint oil.

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