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Flatulence result from the accumulation of gas in the digestive tract. The quantity and the smell of the broken winds vary according to the diet and to the individuals. Dogs are more concerned than cats.

Origin and nature of the gas

They come from:

  • swallowed air (aerophagia) : animals that gulp down their food very quickly swallow air that passes very quickly through the digestive tract (within 15 mn in man) ;
  • the products of degradation of the undigested food by the intestinal bacteria ;
  • gas diffusion from the blood to the lumen of the guts ;
  • the result of intestinal chemical reactions.

Intestinal gases have a mixed composition. The following ones can be identified:

  • non-odorous gases: air, hydrogen, methane, carbon dioxide…
  • odorous gases : ammonia, hydrogen sulfide, by-products from proteins (indole, skatole, short chain fatty acids)… These gases represent less than 1 % of the winds, but it is enough to make the flatus very nauseating.

Influence of the food on gas formation

All foods that contain an important undigestible part, from animal or vegetable origin, are the most likely to be responsible for flatulence.

  • Bones and low quality meat, that contain a lot of undigestible protein, encourage intestinal fermentation.
  • Milk may cayse gaseousness in animals with lactase deficiency.
  • Vegetables that contain complex sugars cannot be well digested by dogs or cats: onions, cabbage, cauliflower or even potatoes should be avoided, so as soya beans, haricot beans, peas and lentils…
  • High levels of fermentescible fiber are not advised for sensitive animals. On the contrary, too little fiber lengthens the retention time of the undigested food in the large intestine, and it is in favour of bacterial fermentation. The right balance is to be found.

Influence of individual factors on gas formation

The same food, distributed the same way, may induce highly variable effects according to the animal and its digestive ability. Young animals, or animals that suffer from digestion or assimilation problems (hepatic, pancreatic deficiency…), are the most likely to produce intestinal gas. It is the same for animals housing some intestinal parasites (ex : Giardia).

Flatulence is often observed in overweight animals. As their physical activity is generally dicreased, their intestinal transit slows down, which is a favorizing factor for bacterial fermentation and flatulence. Let’s remember that the undigested fration of the meal is generally excreted 20 up to 48 hours later.

A few rules to help prevention of flatulence

  • Feed the animals several times a day, in a quiet and peaceful place. ( in order to slow down the ingestion, and prevent the risk of aerophagia)
  • Choose a high-digestibility diet, with a moderate fiber content. (to limit the available substrate for the bacterial population)
  • Avoid useless changes of diet. (to keep the balance of the intestinal flora)
  • Avoid the uplisted risky foods. (If one wants to feed vegetables, preferably choose carrots or french beans)
  • Exercise the animal daily. (to stimulate the intestinal transit)
  • Use anthelminthic treatment at regular intervals.


In man, silicones by-products may have an adsorbent action towards intestinal gases. In dogs and cats, enzymes administration could have a positive effect. Therefore, there is no specific treatment of flatulence: the solution passes through the search of the ideal dietary balance, associated with a regular physical activity.

Donated by the Borg Cardona and Co. Ltd. visit Borg Cardona website

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