Gas present in the intestines comes from air which is swallowed and gases produced by bacterial fermentation processes in the gut. Swallowed gases tend to cause burping while bacterial gases produce flatulence. The gases formed by the gut bacteria are mainly methane, hydrogen and carbon dioxide. The type and relative numbers of bacteria present in the gut will affect any flatulence problem, a type of bacteria called Clostridia are a particular culprit. The diet of the dog will also affect wind production. Diets high in fibre and fats will aggravate a flatulence problem as will foods such as beans.
If a dog is suffering from flatulence there may be a build up of gases in the guts which can cause a colic type pain. Often mild flatulence may be associated with intermittent diarrhoea. The bacterial population of the guts can become further disturbed if the condition goes untreated and this will perpetuate the problem. It is therefore important to treat excessive flatulence especially if it is also associated with diarrhoea. More seriously, underlying digestive problems such as pancreatic insufficiency or malabsorbtion syndrome may cause wind in dogs and these conditions will need to be diagnosed and treated.
It is important to evaluate whether there may be a more serious underlying problem when faced with a pet suffering from excessive wind. If your dog has chronic, persistent flatulence you should assess the general health of your pet. Is your dog eating normally or has he got a reduced or increased appetite? Has he gone completely off his food? When does your pet tend to pass wind? Is it associated with feeding? Have you changed your pet's diet recently? Is your dog suffering from diarrhoea or soft faeces? Is your dog constipated or having difficulty passing motions? Is your dog vomiting at all? Has your pet lost weight? Is your pet behaving normally or has its temperament changed?
Flatulence not associated with serious disease can be treated with dietary measures and anti-flatulence products. Treatment for mild conditions which do not seem to be associated with serious disease is usually symptomatic. If flatulence is present in the absence of diarrhoea BCK granules can be mixed into the food to absorb excess gas, fluid and toxins. This will often settle the condition in a couple of weeks. If diarrhoea is also a problem this can be treated concurrently, with the BCK granules being given in addition to other diarrhoea treatments. Use of a probiotic such as Protexin can help re-establish a normal bacterial population in the gut.
It may help to change the type of food you give your dog. The diet can be changed to a low fat, fibre and protein formulation such as Hills i/d or d/d which can help reduce flatulence. Before you change the diet you should with-hold all food for 24 hours and provide fresh water to drink frequently but in small amounts, this will allow the intestines to rest and possibly toxins may be eliminated during this period.
If the flatulence persists despite dietary changes then it is possible that there is a more serious condition underlying the flatulence. This is more likely to be the case if the excess wind is associated with severe diarrhoea and weight loss. Underlying problems which may cause flatulence include bacterial overgrowth in the gut, pancreatic insufficiency, and malabsorbtion problems. If flatulence is persistent or associated with other signs of gastrointestinal disturbance it would be wise to seek veterinary attention for your pet.