One of my favourite scenes (and indeed lines) from any movie is from the Dudley Moore classic ‘10’; the flatulent housekeeper Mrs Kissel is leaving the room and she displays her powerful ability to pass gas in front of Dud and the singing vicar, who explains that “Whenever Mrs. Kissel breaks wind we beat the dog!” With that, the terrified Great Dane immediately scampers out of the room whimpering.
Innocent dogs can indeed make very convenient scapegoats for us foul-smelling humans, but sometimes it is actually the canine that’s capable of clearing a room without moving an inch.
Dog’s flatulence – much like our own – results from the build-up of gas in our digestive tracts. The quantity and the smell of these broken winds vary hugely according to what diet and to the individuals eating it. The gas itself can come from a number of sources too. These mainly include swallowed air (aerophagia), as animals that gulp down their food very fast (often rescue animals) swallow air that passes very quickly through the digestive tract, a process that takes about 15 minutes in man; as well as the products of degradation of the undigested foodstuffs by the hard-working (and with horrendous living conditions?) intestinal bacteria.
Really surprisingly, less than 1% of ‘wind’ is represented by actual odorous gaseous compounds such as eggy hydrogen sulphide or the eye-watering ammonia.
All foods that contain an important undigestible part, from animal or vegetable origin, are the most likely to be responsible for flatulence. Bones and low quality meat, that contain a lot of undigestible protein, will also encourage this excessive intestinal fermentation.
Vegetables containing complex sugars also cannot be well digested by dogs or indeed cats; onions, cabbage, cauliflower or even potatoes should be avoided, as should soya beans, haricot beans, peas and lentils.
High levels of fermentable fibre are not advised for sensitive animals. On the contrary, too little fibre lengthens the retention time of the undigested food in the large intestine, and favours bacterial fermentation.
You must find the right balance – and stick to it.
Flatulence is often observed in overweight animals and people. As their physical activity is generally decreased, their intestinal transit slows down, encouraging bacterial fermentation and flatulence – the undigested fraction of the meal being excreted upto 20-48 hours later.
To help reduce or even prevent flatulence, you can try feeding your pet several times a day in a quiet and peaceful place in order to slow down the ingestion. Choose a high-quality and highly digestible diet with a moderate fibre content. Please avoid unnecessary and pointless changes of diet (this includes the feeding of scraps) and always encourage a regular exercise regime for your dog.