(original graphic by marvistavet.com)
Imagine everyone is gathered together for a relaxing evening of snacks and television when gradually there is no way to avoid or ignore the odors being emitted by the otherwise happy family dog. Jokes abound but really what one wants is a solution to this problem, especially if it is ongoing.
THE SCIENCE OF FLATULENCE
Flatulence comes from an excess of gases in the intestinal tract. These gases may represent air that has been swallowed, gas produced in the biochemical process of digestion, gas diffusion from the bloodstream, or gases produced by the bacteria that populate the intestinal tract. Over 99% of the gases that pass from the intestinal tract are odorless; the gases with objectionable odors are typically those containing hydrogen sulfide.
Flatulence is a normal biological function. A surprising amount of air is swallowed with the simple act of eating and if this is not burped out, it must exit through the other end. The amount of air swallowed tends to be increased when dogs feel they must eat quickly or in the brachycephalic breeds who tend to breathe more by mouth rather than by nose. Swallowed air tends not to have objectionable odor.
The really stinky gases are produced by colon (large intestine) bacteria. Dietary fiber in pet food is not readily digestible by the pet’s own enzyme systems but is readily digested by the gas-producing bacteria of the colon. As these fibers are broken down, gases are produced. A diet heavy in fibers tends to favor these gas-producing organisms. The more supportive the intestinal environment, the more bacteria there will be and ultimately more gas will be produced.
WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT
The following are easy changes that can be made in the management of the pet:
Prescription Low Residue Diets
Changing to a low residue diet means that most of the nutrients of the food are digested and absorbed by the pet before they reach the colon where the gas-forming bacteria are. This means there will be less food for the gas-forming organisms which will ultimately mean fewer gas-forming organisms and less gas formed. Sometimes just going through a case and/or bag of such a low residue diet solves the problem and the pet can return to a regular food afterwards. If necessary, the therapeutic diet can become the pet’s regular food.
SOMETIMES MEDICATION IS NEEDED
A “carminative” is a medication that reduces flatulence. There are an assortment of available products but unfortunately most are not helpful or not even labeled for animal use. Changing the diet and ruling out actual intestinal disease are of primary importance in addressing flatulence. If further therapy is needed, the following products have some basis to suspect they might work:
Yucca shidigera supplementation
Zinc Acetate supplementation
Activated charcoal tablets
Pancreatic Enzyme supplementation
Page posted: 9/29/2011