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Flatulence - a nutritional solution

Updated: Nov 13, 2023

Flatulence - a nutritional solution

It is normal for gas production to occur during the course of digestion and generally this is of no concern to either the pet or the owner. However, when the gas production becomes excessive or particularly odorous it can be a sign that the pet’s diet is not appropriately meeting their nutritional or digestive needs.

Pets that are overweight and/or inactive are at greater risk of suffering from excessive flatulence than their leaner counterparts; this is just one impact of excessive weight on the health of an overweight pet and simply adds to the need for recommending a re-balance of the exercise and calorie intake for the pet. One of the first steps in any nutrition assessment should be an evaluation of the pets’ condition score to ensure any dietary changes support a return to a ‘healthy weight’ for the pet, transitioning to a raw, species appropriate diet would undoubtedly do this.

The way a pet eats can also have a dramatic effect on the amount of gas expelled as they can simply swallow excessive amounts of air with their food. For example, breathing hard due to undergoing exercise or a respiratory issue such as seen with brachycephalic breeds, or simply eating hurriedly as seen with nervous or compulsive eaters. Avoiding feeding the pet immediately following exercise and utilizing slow feeder bowls are relatively simple and useful solutions as is providing foods which are naturally slow to eat, for example a large meaty bone that must be chewed and gnawed on for some time rather than small items that can be ‘inhaled’. Ensuring the nervous eater has a quiet, secure space away from children and other pets to relax and enjoy their meaty bone can also support the pet in developing better eating habits.

There are a number of foods which can contribute directly to excessive gas production, in these cases the item in question should be removed from the diet, at least in the short term until the flatulence resolves itself. Milk and other dairy products containing lactose can result in flatulence along with other signs of gastrointestinal upset. This is because dogs and cats do not possess the lactase enzyme required to digest lactose, the sugar in milk. Instead of being digested it moves through the digestive system into the colon where gas producing fermentation of bacteria occurs with flatulence one of the obvious outcomes. Identifying and removing lactose from the diet is a relatively simple task, once symptoms have resolved, plain, natural Greek yoghurt could be tried as a useful alternative to milk as the lactose is pre-digested during the making process whilst being a healthy pro-biotic supporting gut health.

Much like lactose, any item which is difficult for the cat or dog to digest is likely to challenge the pet’s digestive system, with a slower transition time, added fermentation and bacteria growth resulting in flatulence or in extreme cases, diarrhoea. A common example of this is the cooked carbohydrates, grains and legumes which form the basis of the modern commercial pet food diet. Transitioning the pet to a healthy, raw, species appropriate diet is the ideal solution. The diet should contain proteins which are highly digestible whilst being low in fat, choosing a meat that the pet has not previously been exposed to and therefore least likely to produce an immune response to is ideal, in New Zealand this could be goat or venison. The fibre content should also be reduced to reflect what’s needed rather than ‘bulking out’ the diet, for example simple leafy greens mix to which supplements could also be added, is a great option to support the pets’ nutritional needs and any other symptoms which may be present, for example, flatulence may be accompanied by loose stools or diarrhoea.


Billinghurst, I. 1993. Give Your Dog a Bone. Bathurst, New South Wales: Warrigal Publishing.


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