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Dogs and cats don't try to hold it, move to a more discreet area or blame it on their human family members. It's usually no secret when a furry friend passes gas and commits a four-pawed faux pas. And they certainly don't giggle with embarrassment or blush afterward. After all, intestinal gas is just a natural part of digestion.
While dogs seem to be the main offenders, cats are also prone to flatulence: They produce less gas, and their tendency to keep their distance makes their gassiness less noticeable. Plus, there's a sizable, auditory and olfactory difference between a flatulent 10-pound feline and a gassy 120-pound Great Dane.
If you are like most people, you'd like to find ways to wind down the passing of wind. Here are a few tips:
Exercise helps move everything along the digestive tract and out the back door. Just remember to stay upwind and pick up after your pet.
Consider a change of diet if problems persist. Gas is a normal byproduct of digestion, but if your pet is gassy as a blimp, his diet may need a few adjustments. Talk to your veterinarian about your pet's regular meals and any snacks he regularly enjoys (with and without your permission).
For cats, milk may be an issue. While many cats may enjoy it, others don't digest it well. To see if your cat is among the offenders, stop the dairy for a bit and see if it helps.
Supplements are a mixed bag: Some may increase gas, while others may aid digestion. Again, your veterinarian can help you sort out the pros and cons. One supplement that often helps is the introduction of beneficial bacteria called probiotics that aid with digestion.
Wolfers swallow air when they inhale their food and they often overeat, which backs up the digestive system. Pets with short noses — Pugs and Bulldogs, for example — are not designed for this type of intake. The result of swallowed air mixed with excess fermentation is belching, flatulence or both. Several companies make bowls designed to slow gulpers. You can also toss the bowl and feed from food puzzles — toys that make a pet work to get food a little bit at a time.
Some veterinarians swear by a product called CurTail. Similar to Beano, a product for people, this anti-gas product contains an enzyme that helps break down food, so that it can be digested more fully with more internal combustion and less, shall we say, external combustion. Ask you veterinary team what they think.
While we sometimes laugh when the dog passes gas, top veterinarians caution that peculiar, persistent smells may contain more than meets the nose. Farts are funny. Underlying medical problems aren't as amusing. That means that if the situation is beyond the occasional toot session, the odors are especially noxious — yes, I realize it's relative — and the strategies I've shared seem not to help at all, you need to take your pet to see someone. In other words, if you really want to clear the air, see your veterinarian.
This article was written by a Veterinarian.
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