Farty McBumbum
October 16, 2005 1:12 PM   Subscribe

No, really, it was the dog! Dog-lovers of Metafilter, tell me: do you know any tricks to stop your dog from farting?

Our dog doesn't fart a lot, maybe once or twice a week that we notice. But when he does it, it's like a slow moving, slow-to-disperse cloud of toxic gas that is unbelievably stinky. It's most painful in the middle of the night, as he sleeps next to my side of the bed.

He doesn't get fed table scraps, only kibble with a spoonful of wet mixed in. He does get the regular assortment of dog treats: greenies, rawhide chews, dog biscuits, etc. Occasionally, when we are in serious training mode, he'll get little bits of cheese, as that concentrates his attention wonderfully. But there's no connection between the cheese and the farting, so I don't think that's it.

We've tried an acidophilus product which did help, but the good effects wore off a few days after the bottle did, and it seems kind of pricey to be giving to him on a perpetual basis, given that the problem is relatively intermittent. I'd love to hear what, if anything, has worked for others.
posted by ambrosia to Pets & Animals (24 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Usual question: what do you feed? You might try something different. If you haven't tried any of them, try one of the various ultra-mega-superduper-premiums. They're really not that much more expensive, because you can feed substantially less (because it's all food, not 50% food and 50% ashes and sawdust). Also, dogs on that sort of feed make fewer and smaller craps. If you are feeding something like that, look at the ingredients for the protein sources, and switch to something with different sources for a while.

OTOH, once or twice a week that you notice seems on the low end of normal to me.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:19 PM on October 16, 2005

Agreed with ROU_Xenophobe, fillers in dog food can lead to just this kind of issue.

My dog used to be pretty farty, to the point where she would sometimes startle herself awake with a particularly concentrated blast. I switched her, for unrelated reasons, from the regular beef based (and store brand) food to a quality chicken formula over a few weeks of mixing the two.

Ever since, she has been quite the dainty princess w/r/t emissions, and healthier too.
posted by moift at 1:29 PM on October 16, 2005

Friends of mine breed Golden Retrievers, and they swear by the raw vegetables and meat diet. Any raw meat, including chicken is OK. That's what dogs and their relatives have been eating for centuries. As soon as you cook chicken the bones become brittle and dangerous. Their dogs' coats are glossy, their teeth are amazingly clean, and if they fart, you never smell them.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 1:50 PM on October 16, 2005

Response by poster: The kibble is Iams Chunks, Large Breed Formula (he's a 108-pound Shepherd/Rottie mix.) The first ingredient is chicken (followed by corn meal, ground whole grain sorghum, chicken by-product meal, ground whole-grain barley, fish meal, chicken fat, etc.- it's 23% crude protein.)

I'll look into something more super-premium; fewer and smaller poops would be a good thing.
posted by ambrosia at 1:50 PM on October 16, 2005

Feed him charcoal dog-biscuits. They're the black ones at the pet food supply store. Charcoal makes them stop farting. It also helps humans stop farting.
posted by Makebusy7 at 1:56 PM on October 16, 2005

Plain low-fat yogurt. I was taught the secret of yogurt for gas (and canned pumpkin for loose bowels) when I adopted a greyhound, as a dog coming off a training diet and routine can get pretty ripe. It's the same philosophy as the acidopholus, but way cheaper (the calcium is probably a bonus as well). I give mine as much as a quarter cup mixed in his food when he's particularly breezy or on antibiotics, otherwise it's just a few spoon blops when I remember. It's done good things for our puppy, too, whose diet partially consists of dirt, poop, tree bark, and my couch.

I do find that lamb-based food is better for my old dog. For a couple of years, I had him on Inova fillerless food and he was gas-free, but I'm no longer anywhere near a store where I can reliably get it. You can often find a food that minimizes the gas, but some dogs are just farty. The yogurt almost always does the trick.
posted by Lyn Never at 2:17 PM on October 16, 2005

*plays the Summon Biscotti card*
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:47 PM on October 16, 2005

Best answer: Iams is really low-end food. A good general rule is that if you can buy it at the supermarket, it's crap - feeding Iams is equivalent to eating at McDonald's for every meal - it'll keep you alive, but it's sure not healthy. Good dog feeding information here. You can now get super-premiums at Petsmart/Petco (Nutro Ultra at both, Blue Buffalo at some Petsmarts and Natural Balance and Royal Canin Natural Blend at Petco). Yes, they are more expensive, but as ROU_Xenophobe correctly states, you feed less of them. At very least, switch to a premium food like Nutro Natural (it's not super-premium, but it's substantially better than Iams).

A word on ingredients: you want to see an identified meat meal ("chicken meal", "lamb meal") or identified whole meat ("fresh whole chicken") as the first ingredient (and ideally more than one identified meat meal in the top five ingredients unless it's a single-protein-source food like California Natural), you don't want to see any by-products, you ideally don't want to see any corn or any wheat products (rice or oatmeal are good), and you want to see identified fats (not "poultry fat" but "chicken fat"). Identified meat meals are good because ingredients are listed by weight, and identified meat meal is the meat without the water, so you get the most bang for your buck. Once you drop from identified meat meals to generic meat meals ("poultry meal"), the standards for what can be included drop radically (including the "four d" meat from dead, diseased, dying and down animals - see here - it's not that such meat is intrinsically bad, it's that there's very little control over it, so decent meat from a cow that just tripped and broke a leg can be mixed with cancerous meat from a cow that died after being heavily medicated to keep it alive long enough to slaughter it as "fit for human consumption") and some classifications for things labeled as "by products" for pet foods include blood-soaked sawdust and dead companion animals, so read your labels!

Generally, regular GI upset like flatulence is related to intolerance of diet, and given the vast amounts of filler, carcinogenic preservatives and very low-end by-products in foods like Iams, odds are good your dog's intolerant to something in his food. (As an aside, Iams products used to be great until Proctor & Gamble bought them and turned them into supermarket dog foods)

Feeding raw is great, but there's a lot more to doing it properly than just feeding raw meat and veggies, and most people don't have the inclination to do the research needed to do it properly. It's also pretty expensive unless you live near a butcher who'll sell you boxes of chicken backs for cheap.
posted by biscotti at 3:06 PM on October 16, 2005 [4 favorites]

That's what dogs and their relatives have been eating for centuries.

No. What dogs have been eating for centuries is whatever they can scavenge from their environment: Raw, cooked, alive, dead, whatever. Dogs are not "natural creatures" in that they are the products of centuries or millenia of selective breeding and, in most instances, could never survive if returned to their wolf-like roots.

With all due respect to Mr. Pandemonium, the raw-food-is-natural argument doesn't hold up, and I suspect some of the more fanciful claims of the raw foodies don't either. For example, chicken bones: Whether or not they are made brittle by cooking -- I doubt this, as whenever I snap a raw chicken bone while deboning the break looks mighty sharp -- I would be very cautious before feeding my pug something that might kill him, just because of claims I read on the intarweb/ heard about at a pet store.
posted by docgonzo at 3:10 PM on October 16, 2005

I've fed all my animals Wysong pet food for years. Most of their kibbled food (if not all) contain a variety of lactobacillus supplements. They also have all meat and vegan products to help you create a specialized diet for pets (the Vegan is designed to help supplement diets, BTW, not make dogs and cats into vegetarians). I can buy it locally, but you can also purchase from their website, though I daresay shipping may be exorbitant.

Oh, and it might be helpful to let you know that I am not aware of my dog ever farting, though she does belch quite a bit. I believe it's considered polite after a meal.
posted by oneirodynia at 3:17 PM on October 16, 2005

I have no ideas as to how to stop it, but our dog does the classic thing of farting, smelling it a couple of seconds later and then getting up and moving in disgust.
posted by Lotto at 3:18 PM on October 16, 2005

I agree with docgonzo, with the caveat that I think there ARE some clear benefits to feeding a raw diet (especially one of the prepared ones, which takes the guesswork out and grinds everything up). Large raw meaty bones (like those labeled soup bones in the grocery store) are a great treat occasionally, since they really help clean teeth and dogs need to chew. I firmly believe that many of the real raw-food proponents have done themselves and raw feeding a huge disservice by behaving like culties making all kinds of ridiculous claims about how feeding raw cures cancer and makes the baby Jesus laugh and how feeding kibble is equivalent to slowly murdering your dog. There are good kibbles and bad kibbles, but a good-quality kibble is a perfectly healthy diet for most dogs, assuming they can tolerate the ingredients (and if they can't, there's likely another kibble they CAN tolerate).
posted by biscotti at 3:22 PM on October 16, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks, biscotti & everyone. I didn't realize Iams had gone downhill that much- I figured it was better than the regular dog-chow at the supermarket. I'll take your list of suggestions to the pet place and start mixing in some ultra-premium kibble gradually to get him used to it.
posted by ambrosia at 3:30 PM on October 16, 2005

We feed our french bulldog Flint River Ranch Dog food, with a bit of live yogurt on top in the morning. He still farts occasionally, but it's noticeably less, erm , fragrant than it used to be on the old food that we used. Now, if we could just find a cure for the snoring...
posted by baggers at 4:44 PM on October 16, 2005

I've had dogs for 20 years (sadly I don't anymore) and I've been told many times to hold the rawhide chews -- the dogs chew and chew and they swallow lots of air, apparently. the air ends up in their gut, and then -- boom!
(I've always had big dogs by the way, so we're talking major farting incidents here)

removing the rawhide chews from my dogs' hungry paws has always done a lot of good to curtail their gassiness
posted by matteo at 5:14 PM on October 16, 2005

The other problem with rawhide is that it's indigestible and can cause GI obstructions, which can be expensive or fatal (and that's aside from the tons of scary chemicals they contain). I give my dog Bully Sticks (AKA Pizzles, AKA all kinds of other clever names), which are the dried skin and flesh from steer penises. They are digestible, dogs love them and they don't have a ton of chemicals in them, but they do smell kind of like a bladder infection and men have been known to be made uncomfortable by seeing a dog gnawing cheerfully on a dried penis (although they aren't obviously penii, they just look like sticks).
posted by biscotti at 6:32 PM on October 16, 2005

Re: rawhide treats

I was told years ago by a kennel owner to only buy rawhide treats made in the US. The reason he gave was that rawhide treat makers in other countries sometimes use formaldehyde and other nasty shit to get the hide flexible enough to bend into bone shapes. I have never indenpendently verfied that, so YMMV.
posted by trondant at 8:06 PM on October 16, 2005

depending on the dog, greenies can cause stomach upset. i know lots of people swear by them but i fed one to my aunt's shih tzu and she threw up three times the next morning.
posted by radioamy at 1:59 AM on October 17, 2005

trodant: Hm. Maybe that's why they call it "form al de hyde"
posted by winston at 5:40 AM on October 17, 2005

Our dog farts quite often- probably once a day that we notice. Its not a problem, usually no smell at all (and its really cute when he's sitting there, lets one go, and then looks down at his rear end questioningly). There is no smell, that is, unless he's had some rawhide in the past 12 hours or so. Then you might just have to leave the room the smell is so bad.
posted by gus at 7:16 AM on October 17, 2005

Funny story: When I was 12 or 13 we had a dog that farted a LOT.

It wasn't until years later that my parents fessed up that when we ran out of dog food, they would feed him Cheerios.
posted by o2b at 8:04 AM on October 17, 2005

Eliminating the rawhide bones in our dog's diet reduced his farting dramatically. If your dog is a good chewer like our shepherd, you might want to switch him to synthetic bones or cow hoofs for a while to see if that helps.

FWIW, the same was true of my gf's parents dog, which wasn't a fast chewer.
posted by Four Flavors at 2:56 PM on October 17, 2005

We changed our dogs' (Golden Retrievers) food from beef to chicken and rice a while back due to skin and allergy problems. I didn't notice that the farting has nearly gone away completely until someone mentioned it here.

Now I'm REALLY glad I switched!

posted by kdavies at 10:54 AM on October 26, 2005

Response by poster: So I'm switching the dog over from the evil Iams (who knew?) to a Nutro Ultra super premium for large breeds. The dog seems to love it, and even though I'm still mixing the two together, there's been a vast improvement. No farts! Smaller, firmer, less stinky poops! If I'd known that switching kibble would fix all that, I'd have done it ages ago.

I picked up a bully stick at the pet place when I got the new kibble. The dog loved it. Now I'm just scouting around for a cheaper source online.

I may never tell my husband what they are made of, however.
posted by ambrosia at 10:45 AM on October 27, 2005

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