Decoding Dog Gas — When Is It a Problem?

Is that dog gas an issue or just a smelly annoyance? Are certain breeds more prone to dog gas? Can you take steps to prevent dog gas in the first place?

A dog with his butt in another dog's face.
A dog with his butt in another dog's face. Photography ©WilleeCole | Thinkstock.

Have you ever been cuddling on the couch with your dog and heard strange rumbling sounds coming from his tummy? Dog gas has some seriously gross side effects. Some dogs belch and others have the opposite problem — their stinky gas can clear a room! “Gas is a normal byproduct of digestion,” explains Tracey Jensen, DVM, Dipl. ABVP, founding partner of Wellington Veterinary Hospital in Wellington, Colorado. “When you hear the stomach gurgling, it’s gas and liquid. It’s the same kind of sounds you hear in a soda can, it just sounds different because it’s inside a dog. Dogs burp just like people do and they expel gas from the intestines in the form of flatulence.”

A dog sitting and looking back.
Is that dog gas normal — or not? Photography ©Fly_dragonfly | Thinkstock.

What’s normal and what’s not when it comes to dog gas?

A small amount of stomach gurgling, burping or even farting is normal for most dogs, but excessive dog gas may signal a problem. “When it’s abnormal is when it’s excessive in volume or odor,” Dr. Jensen says. “When it’s consistent or persistent, it’s an indication of a variety of different things that warrant a visit to your veterinarian.”

Excessive dog gas may be caused by a less-than-ideal diet. If the ingredients in your dog’s food are hard for him to digest, it might result in burping, stomach gurgling or flatulence. Large amounts of dog gas or very foul-smelling dog gas may also be signs of issues like inflammatory bowel disease or intestinal parasites.

Diagnosing abnormal dog gas

If your dog is very gassy, your vet might want to run certain tests, especially a fecal test to check for parasites. When you go to the appointment, bring a fresh stool sample, the label from your dog’s food and any supplements or treats your dog gets at home.

Treating dog gas

If no overt issues are discovered as the cause of the dog gas, your vet might talk to you about switching your dog to a higher quality of the food for increased digestibility, and perhaps adding daily probiotics.

“In uncomplicated cases when there’s not an underlying medical problem, probiotics are fantastic,” Dr. Jensen advises in regards to treating dog gas. “Probiotics vary in their potency and in the evidence behind the specific preparation of probiotic, so definitely visit with your veterinarian so he or she can recommend which probiotics would be best for your pet.”

Although it’s safe to give your dog small amounts of plain yogurt as a healthy snack, he likely won’t reap many benefits from the probiotics found in yogurt. “Let’s face it, dogs and cats eat things that we would never dream of,” Dr. Jensen says. “They have pretty robust digestive systems. Because of that, the probiotics that you find in yogurt are just not potent enough to get to the intestinal tract of our domestic pets.”

Yes, dog gas is more prevalent in certain breeds!  

Some dog breeds are more prone to gas simply because of the way they are built. The pushed-in faces of the brachycephalic breeds, including Boston Terriers, Boxers, Bulldogs and Pugs, causes these dogs to swallow air while they eat, which can lead to excess gas in their digestive tracts. If you have a short-nosed breed, you understand the reality of life with dog gas (good thing they’re so cute!).

A dog eating his meal out of a crate, showing his butt.
What and how your dog eats can affect his issues with gas. Photography ©CarlyDybka | Thinkstock.

How to stop / help dog gas

There are some steps you can take to alleviate dog gas, especially in flat-faced breeds. First, make sure the food you’re feeding is very high quality and highly digestible. If you’re not sure, talk to your vet about it. Next, consider giving your dog daily probiotics.

Once those things are in place, take a look at the way your dog is eating. “Chewing is the first part of digestion,” Dr. Jensen says. “When dogs inhale their food, they bypass this important step. Dry food is easy to shovel into their mouths.”

You can also find special pet food bowls that are designed to help short-nosed dogs eat more comfortably and swallow less air, and there are even some brands of dry food designed with brachycephalic breeds in mind. “Pet food companies have addressed how those short-nosed dogs pick up their food and have created kibble to minimize the amount of air that those animals take in as part of picking up their food,” Dr. Jensen explains. “Smaller kibble sizes or kibbles with larger surface areas like those shaped like LifeSavers are preferable for dogs that do not chew their food.”

A few other tricks that might help cut down on swallowing air during mealtimes and reduce dog gas? Elevating the food bowls or adding some water to the food. “By adding a little water to the dry food, just like you would pour milk on cereal, aggressive eaters will ‘lap’ rather than ‘grab’ their food. When they use their tongues like ladles instead of shovels, they slow down and swallow less air.”

Thumbnail: Photography ©WilleeCole | Thinkstock. 

Originally published in 2017. 

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22 thoughts on “Decoding Dog Gas — When Is It a Problem?”

  1. I just found your Blog, and I love it!
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  2. Pingback: Why Is Your Dog’s Stomach Making Noises? | The Love of Benji

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  4. Dogs instinctively learn from an early age to eat as quick as possible… when they’re newborn puppies if they fall behind they can become unhealthy and sickly. Our beagle at around 6 months started eating so fast he would regurgitate his food about every second day. The thing that solved this for him was a slow feeder bowl … he has to use his tongue to grab the kibble. He’s become acustomed to it now through experience but he’s still a lot slower than with a normal bowl.

  5. Pingback: Why Is Your Dog’s Stomach Making Noises? A Vet Weighs In | ITS A NEW PETSTORE EVERYDAY

  6. I agree with Gloria 1,000%. Feeding raw is absolutely the best way to go in my opinion. Just make sure your dog is greeting all the proper nutrients.

    1. I have tried raw dog food. I have tried all kinds of food but nothing works
      My dog sleeps right beside my bed at night. As soon as she goes to sleep she has gas and it wakes me up and smells real bad

      1. If you give your dog raw meat. Do NOT make it a raw-only diet. They may be carnivores at heart, but fiber is still an important piece of their diet. Wild canines still get fiber by eating the >fur< of their prey in addition to the meat, fat, and bones. And also, domestic dogs tend to have more tender constitutions versus their wild counterparts. A raw diet may actually be rougher on their gut.

        That being said, if a diet change didn't fix it, I recommend getting your dog's stool checked. Make sure there isn't an underlying issue, like a disease or parasite.

  7. Flatulence in dogs is also a result of eating an inappropriate diet, such as grains and large quantities of plant matter, especially the cheaper dog foods that contain large quantities of corn, ‘by-products’ and other totally inappropriate items. Dogs are, after all, carnivores, and their digestive tract is not designed to digest plants. When they eat plant matter, it either sails through, mostly undigested, or can sit in the stomach and ferment. This also encourages gas buildup in the system that you get the pleasure of experiencing in the form of doggy farts.

    Try feeding your dogs a raw, species appropriate diet of meat, bones and organs, and see if the gas goes away within a very short time. Bet you will be pleasantly surprised! 🙂

  8. Pingback: Decoding Dog Gas — When Is It a Problem? | Pet Love Is Worth It

    1. Hi there,

      Here’s another piece on dog burping that might provide some additional insight:

  9. Was hope that the problem wasn’t because she had puppy and there were not one still a puppy that was distill inside her

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  14. Dogs eating poop is called “Coprophagia”. There are many reasons. Have you checked it out. A web link to help explain.
    p.s. – Science Diet is not a good dog food, read the ingredients. I think Veterinarians are paid to promote it.

  15. Jenness Gale Allen

    I had a dog that use to eat it’s poop too, I talked to a vet about it and was told by the vet it cause my dog wasn’t getting good enough dog food with the right vitamins in it! Suggested feeding my dog Science Diet dog food. So I switched my dog food as suggested and sure enough my dog quit eating it’s poop! So if you’re dog is eating it’s poop change your dog food to a better quality food and that bad habit will stop!

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  17. One other cause for excessive and smelly gas is if the dog eats dog poop. Disgusting as it is, some dogs do (my dog does).

    I also have the feeling that walking the dog at irregular times can cause the stomach to get out of sync (and possibly cause more gas).

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