ASK THE VET

Belfast Telegraph - Weekend - - INTERIORS AND PETS - BY CRAIG REILLY

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 tele.vet@hot­mail.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.

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