TRACIE HOTCHNER: “NASTY GAS” PART ONE

Does your dog create such unpleasant odors that he clears the room with his gaseous emissions? Smelly gassiness in a dog is a sign of maldigestion or of a medical problem. Once you understand the reasons for Nasty Gas, you can choose one of the simple solutions to this unpleasant problem.

It is actually quite normal for a dog to make gas inside the intestines, but in a healthy dog it escapes his body unnoticed. We are only aware of the gas when it becomes so excessive that you can hear or smell it. What causes Nasty Gas? The dog’s large intestine is where normal, harmless bacteria break down those parts of the dog’s food that weren’t digested in the stomach and small intestine. This bacterial fermentation causes some odorless gases like carbon dioxide, hydrogen, and methane – but can also create hydrogen sulphide, known for its odor of rotting eggs.

The two most common reasons for a dog to produce excessive or bad-smelling gas are because he swallows air when he eats – or from abnormal bacterial activity in the large intestine – which results from an improper diet, parasites, or even medical conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease. First you need to evaluate your dog’s diet. Your dog may be digesting poorly as a result of eating a lower quality dry food that contains an excessive amount of highly processed, low quality carbohydrates.

The Nasty Gas can be caused by an imbalance in the amount or type of starch and/or fiber in the dog’s diet, which is more than her digestive tract can tolerate. Inferior kibble is made primarily of “food fragments” – the leftover debris after starchy foods are processed for human use. These ingredients can cause excess gas production in some dogs as their digestive tract struggles to process these elements. The simple remedy is to switch to a higher quality, more digestible food like any of the Halo Spot’s Stew varieties. You can also reduce the overall amount of carbohydrates your dog is getting by making canned food one-half to one-third of your dog’s meals.

Swallowing air is another cause for intestinal gas. Belching takes care of most excess air in the stomach, but some of it passes on to the digestive tract and comes out the other end. A dog can swallow air for three reasons: he produces a lot of saliva that he has to swallow frequently, or he swallows nervously due to generally being stressed, or he eats too quickly, gulping the food.

You can do something about this last reason for gassiness: you can slow down your dog’s eating by feeding on a flat surface like a cookie sheet. There are a couple of versions of dog bowls which have protrusions built into the bottom which force the dog to eat more slowly as she tries to get around them. You can also put several large, smooth, clean rocks into his bowl so he has to work around them to get at all his food. (Just make sure the rocks are large enough that they will not be eaten!).

Look for more on Nasty Gas next week!

Tracie Hotchner, author of The Dog Bible and The Cat Bible, guest blogs here every Thursday on healthy, natural choices for pets.

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