Why do my Dog’s Farts Stink?

Dr. Barchas: I have a three-year-old Mastiff with a smelly problem! He has terrible gas that has gotten worse over the two years I've had...


Dr. Barchas:

I have a three-year-old Mastiff with a smelly problem! He has terrible gas that has gotten worse over the two years I’ve had him. My vet suggested adding yogurt to his diet, but that has not worked. What else can I do?

Thanks for your help!

Shreveport, LA

Everyone farts. Cats, dogs, linebackers, ballerinas, princesses, supermodels, bloggers and presidents fart. Fish fart. Your mother farts and so do you.

Larger individuals have more voluminous intestinal tracts. More volume equals more gas. Larger farts are more likely to be detectible than smaller ones. A Mastiff’s farts therefore are more likely than a Chihuahua’s to cause offense.

Intestinal gas has three common causes. Air that is swallowed may work its way through the system and pass out of the rear end. Gas that is released by carbonated beverages can build up and emerge from one end or the other. Finally, food that is not readily digested by individuals may become fodder for bacteria in the digestive tract. Bacteria release gas as they consume food, and the gas passes through the intestines until it reaches the anus (or, in the case of fish, the cloaca).

Air that is swallowed usually doesn’t smell bad as it comes out. Animals can’t open beer cans, so carbonation effects are rare in cats and dogs. That leaves the third culprit, bacterial fermentation, as the main cause of offensive flatus in pets.

Bacterial fermentation is most common when individuals eat high fiber foods (think beans). Changing your dog’s diet to something that is easily digestible (such as a sensitive stomach formula) may reduce his gas.

The microflora in yogurt and other probiotics purportedly help eliminate difficult-to-digest fiber. Sadly, probiotics are not panaceas for flatulence.

The Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association reported in 2001 that oral administration of charcoal and Yucca shigidegera may reduce offensive odors associated with canine flatus. I believe that’s overkill.

Farts are a part of life. If a diet change doesn’t help then your best bet may be to buy a powerful fan.

Photo: Elsie May lets one rip.

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