Ask The Dog Trainer: The problem of flatulence


I have an embarrassing and frustrating question to ask and I am desperately seeking advice. My dog Bruno is a wonderful five-year-old male Boxer. My problem is he is very flatulence prone. It’s a silly problem to have but he farts all of the time and with such vigor that it can clear the room. Literally. He farted during Thanksgiving and my entire family had to vacate the house and eat dessert in our driveway.

We have all done our best to tolerate and laugh off this quirk, but I especially need help because I recently moved in with my boyfriend and with this cold weather Bruno enjoys snuggling up with us in bed. If Rick holds my hand Bruno begins to pant and if Rick kisses my cheek Bruno begins to get excited and if Rick does anything else then Bruno farts…

Oh my God. Help!

- Maggie


Dear Maggie,

Ah, nothing can quite ruin the mood like an untimely cloud of flatulence issuing from one’s dog. Our own family dog, Ragnar, has farts so singularly rank that I swear you can see them erupting from his muscular buttocks like a yellow fog. My husband is a Marine jarhead with a high tolerance for ick, and even he leaves the room when Ragnar blesses us with one of his toots. There’s nothing to be embarrassed about, and I’m happy to provide some guidance.

The first step I would suggest is to take Bruno to your veterinarian and have them look him over. Excessive gas can be an indication of a gastrointestinal issue or illness and your vet will be able to run tests and investigate further if needed.

Sometimes an over abundance of farts can suggest a food intolerance. Putting your dog on a restricted diet can help rule out any allergies and avoid any foods that don’t sit well with them. I’d discuss Bruno’s nutritional needs based on his age, breed and lifestyle with your vet or a pet nutritionist and see what they suggest. A highly digestible, low-residue diet might help. Remember to avoid giving Bruno any table scraps or human food, as often dogs are lactose intolerant. Morsels of food containing cheese, milk or cream can contribute to flatulence. If you have a cat, make sure that the litter box is securely out of reach and the lid to your trash can is closed.

Another contributing factor to farting can be the tendency for the dog to swallow a lot of air while eating and drinking. We see this especially in short-nosed breeds and in dogs that are speed eaters. Incorporating a puzzle bowl, snuffle mat or putting his food in a wobble ball can help slow down the excitement of meal time. Freezing his meals inside of a Kong, scattering his kibble throughout a pet-safe environment for him to find or feeding him throughout the day in smaller portions are additional ways to slow down meals. Incorporating walks and exercise after eating can also be beneficial, as well as implementing the use of treats containing ingredients such as yucca schidigera, zinc acetate, ginger or parsley, which all help reduce flatulence. Pet-safe and veterinarian approved probiotics may help balance Bruno’s gut health and might be worthwhile exploring.

Hopefully once you have ruled out any medical issues and excluded any dietary intolerances, Bruno’s fragrance will have improved considerably. The next piece of advice I’ll give has to do with quality time. I am an advocate for crating your dog during your own mealtimes and especially when you’d like some alone time with Rick. During those special times, keeping an eye on your dog is not always feasible or desirable. While you are otherwise engaged Bruno might have the opportunity to slip into the kitchen and nose through the trash, thus disrupting any dietary restrictions you might be imposing. He might get into mischief or develop undesired habits such as begging, demand barking or forced cuddling. I suggest putting a crate or playpen in your office, laundry room or living room – but not your dining or bedroom, and giving him a tasty, healthy treat that he can enjoy while you and your family eat or relax. Once you are finished with your activities, then welcome him into your space and enjoy his company.

Alas, aside from investing in air fresheners, I’m afraid that’s all the advice I have to give on dog flatulence. Just know you are not alone, and every single dog owner reading this will at some point in the near future, sniff the air, gasp and stare in incredulous disgust at their peacefully tooting pooch, exclaiming, “oh my god! Is that you?” It is the price we pay to love them.

Kendall and Chandler Brown are owners of Custom K-9 Service Dogs, a dog training business serving Minden/Gardnerville, Carson and Reno. For information go to customk9servicedogs.com or email customk9servicedogs@gmail.com.

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