Saturday, May 24, 2014

My Dog Farted…and She Scared Herself!

Co-written by Dr. Gloria Ku and vet assistant, Danielle

“My dog, Vega, has had a lot of challenges since my husband and I have taken her in off the street.  From social anxiety to diarrhea problems in her early years, patience and care has been the key to getting her to where she is today.  When she was young, her dry food diet changed several times until we found one with the highest fiber content to help stop her loose stools.  Dr. Ku has been there every step of the way with her sensitive stomach problems.  Vega is now almost 10 years old.  Earlier this year, my husband started noticing that she is farting more often.  When she does, if she is awake, she looks at her hind end in surprise and then runs out of the room.  At first, we thought she just didn’t want to smell her own stench.  However, it’s now at the point where if she releases gas while she’s asleep, she wakes up startled and runs away in fright!  Not only is her gas causing her to leave the room, but us too!!  Eventually, we were tired of gagging on her almost silent and deadly gas, and sad that Vega was scared of herself.  I approached Dr. Ku shortly afterwards and asked her, ‘Like people, when we get older, do dogs fart more often too?’  Dr. Ku laughed, and then told me…”
~Danielle, Vet Assistant

Dogs, and people, and most animals, naturally have gas related to digestive gas producing bacteria in their intestinal tract.  Sometimes, these gas producing bacteria overgrow or dominate more than they should due to the foods we eat.   The type of fiber found in different diets, or certain ingredients, may lead to an excessive amount of these types of bacteria in the gut, and the end result can be malodorous, or excessive (or both!) gas production. 

For Vega, we decided to first try her on a probiotic.  This is an abundance of “good” bacteria that we “feed the gut” in the form of a chewable dog treat called Prostora, or a capsule called Proviable.  There is also a powder known as Fortiflora.  These three products are similar, but again, the delivery system (chewable, capsule, or powder) can also affect how well some animals retain the good bacteria.  The idea is to flood the gut with enough “good” bacteria to out compete the “bad” (gas producing) bacteria.  She tried them all, and while they helped some, none were enough alone to control her gas.

Next we decided to experiment with her diet.  For years, Vega had been on an over the counter good quality lamb and rice diet.  Sometimes lamb based diets can be a little fattier, or the pet can have difficulty with that type of fat digestion.  We first tried an easy to digest prescription diet well tolerated by most dogs, but this did not seem to help either.  With this diet the main source of fiber was beet pulp, and thinking that this might be hard for her to digest, we then tried another brand of enteric diet (easy to digest).  After fully weaning to this diet for the past three weeks, Vega has not had any more noticeable, malodorous or frightening farts!  And now she and Danielle sleep well through the night 😉.
For better or worse, we are all made differently, and even at different stages of our lives, our ability to digest foods, our “gut flora,” and our need for fiber, can change.  This means things can change, but we can also learn to listen to the changes (literally!), and make the necessary adjustments.  Although it may be a bit tedious to do the trial and error approach, sometimes there is no other way to discover what works best for each individual.  And luckily we have lots of choices.  Bon appetit!   -Dr. Gloria Ku
Thank You, Dr. Ku!


Anonymous said... there a way to cure the psychic part? to take away the fear?


Hatton Vet Staff said...

Great question! Each dog (and cat) have different personalities, just like us. And just like us, we also have irrational fears that sometimes we cannot get past. In Vega's case, her owners worked with their veterinarian and their dog trainer to help her. Vega lacked confidence which caused a lot of behavior issues but her owners tried to help her for all the years they had her. Over time, with changes to her diet and probiotics, her body adjusted and she expelled less gas which caused her fear to be less often.