ASK THE VET
QMy lovely old Labrador has always been a bit ‘windy’, bless her, but recently she is so very smelly we can’t have her in the room at night. I have tried different diets but nothing seems to help. What is wrong, do you think? Patricia, Belfast
AVery anti-social, Patricia! Flatulence is (as you suspected) usually related to diet: remember the scene in Blazing Saddles on the baked beans?
More accurately, gas production excess is due to the way the bowel deals with the dietary substrate: this can be smelly/not!
As dogs age, they cannot deal as effectively with the variety of proteins, fats and carbohydrates we feed them. Some diets are particularly difficult, namely those tinned diets with lots of flavourings and colours added, or the relatively cheaper dried diets which have high cereal content.
In my practice in Bangor, we recognise that many dogs have a big problem with food intolerance, and this can be associated with truly dreadful flatulence, as well, of course, as relatively frequent bouts of vomiting and diarrhoea, and nasty tummy cramps.
The history you describe suggests food intolerance, or perhaps even inflammatory bowel disease (a bit like Crohn’s Disease in people) to me, and I would be tempted to perform a careful dietary trial. I’d choose a veterinary prescription diet, based on a protein she hasn’t had before, perhaps fish or hydrolysed soya, and a wheat-gluten-free carbohydrate source like rice.
As the problem has been lifetime, I’d also use a special antibiotic for a few weeks to assist in the establishment of a normal bowel bacterial balance.
I have had many successes treating these cases: it is very rewarding to return normality to these rather antisocial doggies! If this failed to give me the improvement I’d expect, then a full investigation may well be warranted.
You probably know that dogs can also suffer from chronic pancreatitis, and perhaps that organ may benefit from careful support and dietary manipulation.
Let your vet examine her: I am sure there is something that can be done, and he/she will help you decide the best way forward. Good luck.
Craig is a partner in Cedarmount Veterinary Clinic, Bangor (cedarmountvets.co.uk). Send your pet queries to email@example.com. Craig can only respond to questions through this column, and these answers cannot substitute for treatment decisions based on a full history and clinical examination by your vet.