I was asked on the K9Nutrition Facebook page to explain why dogs get gas and what causes it? This is a question that has numerous answers, but in most cases, the answer depends on what is in the dog’s diet.
Dry dog food can be a known cause of gas simply due to the high carbohydrate content in the food, which commonly includes grains, rice, vegetables and fruit. All of these ingredients contain fiber and with the dog’s short and simple digestive tract (unlike ours), they struggle to digest all the bulk fiber. This struggle results in gas and causes larger stools with more odor. To help alleviate this, avoid dry dog foods that contain grains, beans, lentils, beet pulp, pumpkin or other bulkier starches. When feeding a dry commercial dog food, make sure the protein source is a quality protein and the amount of carbohydrates listed in the ingredients is limited. Adding fresh food to kibble in the form of animal-based proteins such as meat, eggs, yogurt and cottage cheese will cut down the amount of fiber and help reduce gas, stool size and odor.
Home-cooked diets can do the same thing if the carbohydrate ratio to protein is too high. Home-cooked diets should not be more than 25% carbohydrates and should contain a limited amount of starches, such as potatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes and no grains.
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On occasion, diets too high in fat can cause gas. If you are feeding a raw diet and your dog is still experiencing too much gas, remove chicken skin and trim any extra fat off meats. Fattier meats like pork and lamb can cause gas, as well as high amounts of rich food like organ meat (liver and kidney).
Feeding too much food can also cause gas, as well as diarrhea. In fresh food diets, we feed about 2% to 3% of the dog’s body in weight of food. When you adjust the diet accordingly, the problem often disappears.
Certain medications can also cause gas. These include antibiotics, some non-steroidal medications such as Rimadyl, Metacam, Piroxicam, etc. Always be sure to check side effects on any medication you give your dog.
A good supplement to help reduce or slow down gas in dogs, is probiotics. These are the ‘good’ bacteria that aid in good digestion and help the immune system. This good flora and fauna help keep bad bacteria in check and also help combat yeast. It is best to give probiotics with meals. However, if you are giving antibiotics for a health condition, it is best to give probiotics in-between meals, as antibiotics indiscriminately kill most bacteria. A good choice is the Berte’s Ultra Probiotic Powder, which contains a generous amounts of the good bacteria. This is a very affordable supplement, priced at $13.95 for 16 oz.
Yogurt and kefir also contain probiotics, so adding either of these whole foods to each meal is helpful as well. Adding about a teaspoon for the smallest dogs to a couple of tablespoons for large dogs is beneficial.
Another helpful tip is to feed smaller, more frequent meals. Large meals fed once or twice a day can cause gas in some dogs. Smaller, more frequent meals are easier to digest and reduce the burden on the dog’s digestive tract.
If the problem of gas continues, sometimes animal-based digestive enzymes can help as they assist with predigesting fats and proteins in the stomach. The Berte’s Digestion Blend has a good mix of animal-based enzymes, as well as probiotics and l-glutamine, which helps heal the digestive tract lining.
I hope you find these tips helpful. Be patient, as sometimes it can take your dog a bit of time to adjust to diet changes and the addition of supplements.