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What is Gassy?

Your dog may be gassy for a variety of reasons and he may experience chronic or intermittent flatulence. As gas forms in your dog’s stomach or intestine, it will have to be released through either end of the gastrointestinal tract at some point. Symptoms of gas will vary and can include:

  • A distended abdomen
  • Gas passing from your dog’s anus (it may or may not smell)
  • Rumbling sounds from his stomach area
  • Stomach discomfort
  • Burping
  • An odor like feces
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Weight loss
  • Minimal or no appetite

Gassiness in your dog can be due to:

  • An intolerance to one or more elements of his diet
  • Ingesting new ingredients his intestinal bacteria is not prepared for
  • Gastrointestinal problems that affect digestion and nutrient absorption

Once you understand what is causing your dog to be gassy, you can make changes that can minimize the gassiness that he experiences.

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Why Gassy Occurs in Dogs

Your dog may be gassy for the following reasons:

Dietary Intolerance

Your dog may have an intolerance to something in his diet and not have the ability to digest certain components properly or absorb the ingredients. This is called a dietary intolerance. When this occurs, the bacteria within your dog that digests the food in his intestines will respond by producing excess gas.

Intestinal Bacteria Not Prepared For

When your dog is introduced to a new food or gets ahold of some table scraps, his intestinal bacteria are likely not prepared to handle the new ingredients that are entering his system. This will lead to his developing gas.

Effects on Digestion and Nutrient Absorption

Inflammatory bowel disease is a general category of gastrointestinal diseases where there is significant and damaging inflammation occurring in the lining of your dog’s gut. The inflammation and irritation that your dog experiences will often cause an impairment in his ability to digest his food and absorb nutrients. This can lead to gassiness among other symptoms.

Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency occurs when certain enzymes from the pancreas are missing or are less than necessary; it results in exocrine pancreatic insufficiency. This is also known as maldigestion syndrome. In this condition, the proteins, starches and fats that are ingested by your dog cannot be broken down into small enough pieces in order for them to be absorbed through the intestinal wall. This means that the nutritional value and substance of the food remain in your dog’s gastrointestinal tract and are eliminated through his feces.

What to do if your Dog is Gassy

Should gas in your dog occur on occasion, first consider whether he ate something he does not usually ingest prior to its occurrence. If he got a hold of some food you left on the coffee table or you let him try some of your leftovers, it could result in his experiencing gas. The gassiness should resolve itself, though it can occur again if your dog ingests new foods that his intestinal bacteria are not ready for.

If your dog is chronically gassy, it is a good idea to take him to your veterinarian for an examination. Your veterinarian will conduct a full physical examination of your dog and ask you questions about what kind of food your dog has been eating, what treats he gets and whether he has had the opportunity to obtain food unsupervised (for example outdoors from garbage cans). You should let your veterinarian know if your dog eats very fast. 

Should there be no other symptoms, your veterinarian will suspect that the cause of your dog’s gas is dietary and may recommend an elimination diet or advise you to keep certain foods from your dog. Gas is often caused by incomplete absorption of nutrients. This will result in excessive fermentation by bacteria which will lead to the production of gas. If your veterinarian suspects that poor absorption is the cause of your dog’s gassiness, he will seek to find what is causing that to occur. Your veterinarian will consider all of the information you provided as well as what he saw during his physical exam. He may recommend lab tests like a stool sample, a culture of the bacteria in your dog’s gut, blood and urine tests and x-rays and or ultrasound as he seeks to make a diagnosis for your dog’s gassiness.

Prevention of Gassy

Offering your dog a well-rounded diet that meets his nutritional needs is helpful for his long-term health, as is ensuring that he gets plenty of exercise. You will also want to schedule regular examinations with your veterinarian; this way any potential issues can be addressed before they become significant problems. 

As your dog can experience gassiness as a result of ingesting foods that he is not used to, it is a good idea to supervise him when he may have access to food that may be new to him. For example, should you have a large yard where he is able to roam, keep the garbage can outside of that area, so that he does not take the opportunity to dig in it for new foods to eat. You can also request that visitors and other members of your household don’t feed him table scraps, particularly when they are new foods that he has not tried.

Cost of Gassy

The cost of your dog being gassy will depend upon why it is occurring. Should your dog have gotten ahold of and ingested a new food item that his bacteria were not prepared for, the condition will likely resolve itself and there will be no cost involved. Should the gas be the result of health condition like inflammatory bowel disease, the average cost of treatment is $2800, depending upon the area where your dog is receiving treatment.