Why Does My Dog Have Bad Gas?

Key takeaway

Flatulence is part of your dog's normal digestive processes. However, bad or more frequent gas is often caused by dietary indiscretions, swallowing air, and other potential health conditions. If you're worried about your dog's gas, consult a vet to rule out medical conditions and formulate a treatment plan to improve their digestive health.

Every dog parent has experienced it. You're relaxing with your dog, and suddenly there's a terrible odor in the air. Dog farts are a normal part of your dog's digestive processes, but unfortunately, they often smell stinky. All pet parents know there are different types of dog farts, ranging from silent and deadly to loud and humorous. Some dogs are even afraid of their own gas, running away when they hear the sound. 

Even though your dog's farting is part of their everyday life, you might wonder why they have such bad gas if they've recently started passing gas more or the smell has changed. There are many reasons why your dog suddenly has bad gas, ranging from their diet to lifestyle and even health issues. If you're trying to learn more about dog gas, you've come to the right place. Let's discuss everything you need to know about flatulence, why your dog has bad gas, and how to fix it. 

What Is Flatulence?

Flatulence, also known as passing gas or farting, is normal for living animals, including dogs and humans. Dog farts are part of dog life and typically occur when bacteria in the digestive tract break down food for energy. During digestion, hydrogen sulfide gas is released, resulting in farting.1

Similarly to humans, dogs can swallow air that collects in the digestive system, and the only way to release it is through farting or burping.2 

Of course, some dogs fart more than others. For example, brachycephalic breeds like pugs and Boston terriers swallow more air when eating, drinking, or chewing on their favorite bones, which leads to more farting.1 However, while passing gas is normal, if your dog experiences sudden changes in the frequency and smell, it could be a symptom of GI upset or illness. 

Causes Of Bad Gas In Dogs

In general, gas in dogs is healthy and part of their normal digestive processes. However, when the gassiness increases, becomes excessive, or changes in smell, it may be helpful to determine the cause. While bad gas isn't necessarily a symptom of a serious illness, it could mean your dog is experiencing digestive issues due to several reasons. Here are some of the main causes of flatulence in dogs: 

Their Diet

Again, flatulence is part of normal digestion, so any type of food could lead to farting, even if it's perfectly healthy for your dog. However, some foods cause more excessive flatulence. Since what a dog eats is typically the most common culprit of bad gas, it's best to avoid anything that may cause discomfort or prevent you from enjoying a night in with them. Foods that could cause more gas in dogs include:

  • Foods with high fiber: Foods high in fiber are more difficult to digest, so while fiber improves digestion and can help bulk up stool in dogs with diarrhea, it can also cause gas. 
  • Cruciferous vegetables: Cruciferous vegetables are another common cause of gas in dogs and humans. Vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower contain compounds called isothiocyanates that can cause excessive gas. 
  • Beans: All types of beans are high in fiber and can cause gas in dogs and humans. 
  • Dairy: Many dogs are lactose intolerant, so they don't digest dairy products well, leading to a change in flatulence. 
  • Too much 'human' food: While many human foods are safe for dogs, your dog doesn't need them in their diet. Your dog's digestive tract isn't used to human foods, so it can cause minor GI issues, including gas. 
  • Foods that are high in fat content: Foods high in fat can lead to gas, but these should always be avoided to prevent weight gain and associated health problems like pancreatitis in dogs
  • They've been going on a scavenger hunt in the trash bin: You should never let your dog eat out of the trash because it could be dangerous. Not only can they choke on old garbage, but your garbage bin may contain moldy foods that can cause digestive issues resulting in gas. 
  • Change in diet: You should always change your dog's diet slowly to reduce the chances of GI upset, which may result in gas, diarrhea, and vomiting.3
  • Food intolerance or allergies: Since poor digestion is a common culprit of dog flatulence, your dog may be allergic to something they're eating. 

They're Overweight

Overweight dogs are at risk for chronic flatulence because their digestive system must work harder to do its job, leading to more farts. Additionally, dogs that overeat are likely to fart more because of potential indigestion. Since the body must work overtime to digest more food at once, more gasses can build up, resulting in bloating and flatulence. 

List of causes of bad gas in dogs

They're Swallowing Air

Swallowing air is another common cause of flatulence. However, some breeds are more at risk for chronic flatulence due to the swallowing of air, particularly dogs with shorter snouts that swallow more air and breathe through their mouths.1 Additionally, dogs that eat quickly swallow more air than dogs that eat slowly.3 

Of course, any dog that swallows air may pass gas more often. For example, dogs that love to lick or chew bones typically swallow more air and fart more than dogs that spend all day lounging in the sun. 

Food Intolerance

Food intolerance and allergies are quite common in dogs, and feeding your dog a diet of foods they can't digest easily can result in additional flatulence. Common culprits of food allergies in dogs include:

  • Diary
  • Beef
  • Chicken
  • Eggs 
  • Soy 
  • Gluten

Irritable Bowel Syndrome 

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is more common in humans than dogs but can be caused by environmental factors, stress, and anxiety.4 Dogs with IBS have intestinal muscles that don't function properly, causing diarrhea and constipation, along with other symptoms related to GI issues like gas. IBS can cause painful gas, but it can be managed through proper diet and medication.4

Treatment options for bad gas 

Treatment Options For Bad Gas 

While gassy dogs may be difficult to spend quality time with, dog farts typically don't cause them distress and may even help alleviate some symptoms of GI upset. If your dog is farting more than usual, it's likely due to a dietary indiscretion. Luckily, many of the common causes of dog gas can be treated with a few diet and lifestyle changes. 

1. Make Small Diet Changes

High-quality dog food may improve your dog's gas if dietary indiscretion is the issue. If your dog's diet is the cause of their gas, you can make gradual dietary changes to eliminate potential problem ingredients.1 While you can do this at home, it's always best to consult a vet before changing your dog's diet, especially if they have an underlying medical condition. 

The elimination diet involves eliminating one ingredient from their food at a time and monitoring them to determine if their gas gets better or worse until you see an improvement. In addition, a vet may choose to put your dog on a weight management diet if they're overweight, potentially reducing the frequency of flatulence. When changing your dog's diet, always do it gradually since a rapid change can result in GI issues like vomiting, diarrhea, and more gas. 

Whether or not your dog's regular dog food is causing the issue, avoid feeding them table scraps since human foods are a common culprit of gas. In addition, most of the foods you eat are full of salt, sugar, and fats that can be potentially harmful to dogs and cause gas, so avoiding potential problem foods can help eliminate any digestive issues causing dog flatulence. 

2. Adjust Their Feeding Schedule

Dogs that eat too much too quickly are at an increased risk of gas because they swallow more air and can experience indigestion and bloating. While the most common dog feeding guidelines suggest feeding your dog twice daily, some dogs should eat smaller, more frequent meals. Giving your dog smaller meals throughout the day can help avoid digestive problems by helping their digestive system process food between meals. 

3. Try Probiotics

Canine probiotics are designed to improve gut health by supporting the production of good bacteria, improving the digestion of food. These supplements come in a treat, chew, or powdered form, so they're easy to give to dogs and provide them with several benefits, including gas reduction. Probiotics can reduce gas, cramping, bloating, and diarrhea in dogs, so talk to your vet to see if probiotics are a good option for your gassy dog. 

4. Increase Their Exercise

Exercise can reduce bloating in dogs while supporting healthy digestion. Dogs with a lower-activity lifestyle are more at risk for chronic flatulence, weight gain, and various other health issues. However, walking your dog can improve digestion, regardless of diet or weight. 

5. Slow Down Their Eating

Dogs that eat too quickly are at a higher risk of bloat and flatulence because they swallow more air. In addition, eating too quickly makes it more difficult for the body to digest everything at once. Slowing your gassy dog's eating may improve their digestion to reduce farts and prevent overeating. You can use a  slow-feeder bowl or lick mat to slow them down at feeding time or feed them smaller meals throughout the day. 

6. Talk To A Vet

If you've tried everything but still find your dog is gassy or they experience new symptoms along with the gas, consult a vet to rule out illnesses. While gas is normal, excessive gas in dogs may indicate a more serious health condition. Vets can help you develop the right treatment plan for your dog's gas, whether or not it's caused by a medical condition while ensuring your dog can still eat a nutritious, balanced diet. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Should you worry if your dog has bad gas?

If your dog has bad gas every now and then, it's likely not cause for concern because it likely means they're experiencing dietary indiscretion. For example, if you recently changed your dog's food or gave them a new bone, they may be experiencing minor side effects to a change in ingredients. However, if your dog's bad gas persists and it's stinkier than usual, always consult a vet to rule out any potential health conditions. 

What should you feed your dog with gas?

If your dog has bad gas, monitor them for other signs of illness, such as vomiting and diarrhea, which may indicate dietary indiscretion. In most cases, your dog's bad gas will resolve on its own, but there are a few things you can give them to reduce any discomfort and gassiness. For example, probiotics are a great way to improve your dog's gut health and support healthy digestion. 

Avoid feeding your dog any table scraps when they have bad gas. While what you feed them may not be dangerous to their health, human foods can worsen gas in dogs. 

Can worms cause bad gas in dogs?

Worms in dogs can cause gas and other digestive issues. If your dog's gas has recently become worse, including stinkier or more frequent, speak with a vet to rule out worms or provide treatment to eliminate the worms and clear up any side effects like flatulence. 

Black lab making guilty face after farting

Final Notes

Dog farts are normal, and while they can clear out a room, they're likely nothing to worry about unless your dog experiences other symptoms of illness or their farts have suddenly worsened. Unfortunately, some dogs are gassier than others, but pet parents can find ways to reduce gas to make their dogs more comfortable and less stinky. 

Worried about your dog's gas? We can help you determine the cause of your dog's flatulence to find the right solution. Whether it's due to their diet, eating habits, or lifestyle factors, Dutch vets are here to help you fight flatulence in dogs. Try Dutch today

References

  1. Paretts, Susan. “How to Stop Dog Farts.” American Kennel Club, 21 Sept. 2021, https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/how-to-stop-dog-farts/.

  2. “Flatulence Causes and Treatments.” NHS Inform, https://www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/stomach-liver-and-gastrointestinal-tract/flatulence.

  3. “Why Your Dog Is Farting and What to Do about It.” PetMD, https://www.petmd.com/dog/conditions/digestive/c_multi_flatulence.

  4. “How Much Water Should a Dog Drink?” PetMD, https://www.petmd.com/dog/nutrition/evr_dg_the_importance_of_water.