Clears a room in no time

in Pets by

It’s a quiet evening. You and your buddy Cammo are curled up with a good book when the silence is broken by a gurgling, rumbling sound coming from the middle of your dog. The technical term for that ominous sound is borborygmous (or –mi, if your have two rumbling dogs). It’s one of my favorite words, fun to say, more fun to lob into casual conversation and a good word to know if you are a devotee of the New York Times crossword puzzle. In reference to Cammo, it is the sound that precedes flatulence.
I have been a very lucky dog owner in that all of my pals have had cast iron stomachs. However, my lab Tucker, being true to his breed, would test his digestion’s stamina by consuming anything anytime and in vast quantities. While he could comfortably snack his way through used tissues in the bathroom wastebasket, two pounds of foil-wrapped cheap chocolate, bacon-grease soaked paper towels, an entire Costco-size carton of ricotta, the bottom two-thirds of a found muskrat, he could be done in by a simple cheese and bean burrito.  We all paid the price.
While his Clostridia and other intestinal flora were working overtime to metabolize the burrito, he would still clear a room in no time. Why? Because dogs do not digest carbohydrates very well.  The burrito was chock full of indigestible fiber, oligosaccharides and corn meal.  So rather than being digested, it was fermenting in his gut producing hydrogen, methane, carbon dioxide, ammonia, hydrogen sulfide and other gasses that have to go somewhere.
It’s normal for dogs to have an occasional bout of gas. But it’s not normal for it to occur all the time.  From a holistic perspective, symptoms such as chronic flatulence may be a symptom of a more serious ailment, like pancreatic disease, irritable bowel syndrome or even parasites.  Holistically, too, symptoms indicate where to look for a curative solution. Suppressing the symptom (with simethicone-GasX-for instance) simply postpones or obviates a real diagnosis.
If you have, as my father would say, a fahr-tuh in the house, the first thing to do would be to examine what goes in.  Most commercial dog foods are loaded with fillers of low-grade grains and grain by-products. These contribute more to canine indigestion than most anything else.  Again, here’s my mantra — read the label — if corn, soy, grain hulls, multiple grain meals or sugar are listed in the first few ingredients you will have found the reason for your dog’s fahr-tuh-tude.  Poor quality meats or meat by-products, those not listed as being sourced from a specific species (i.e. chicken meal, beef meal), could also be the culprits.  Switch to a better quality food.
Also, feeding your dog on a schedule may also eliminate the problem.  We all need a few hours in-between meals to completely digest what goes in.  Common sense indicates that if you are free-feeding your dog, he’s snacking and tooting all day long.  If your dog is a Speed-Eater, one of those dogs that inhale his food, he’s taking in a good amount of air with each gulp and is assaulting his gut with a huge bolus of food in a short period of time.  In kennel, I would feed the competitive eaters on sheet pans.  It forced them to slow down, use their lips and take their time.
There are several herbs useful for relieving flatulence and indigestion. You may already have them in your spice rack.  One of the best carminative herbs is fennel seed.  Fennel has a faint licorice flavor and has been used for centuries as a reliable anti-gas, anti-colic remedy for humans and animals. You’ll often find them in Indian restaurants at the checkout counter in lieu of a bowl of puffy pastel mints.  Fennel seed is safe enough to give dogs of any size. Grind them, crush them or soak a tablespoonful in a cup of boiling water till cooled for a tea. A teaspoon of the infusion may be all that’s needed.  Other spice cabinet options are dill seed, anise seed, caraway seed, chamomile, catnip or, yes, even a few puffy pastel peppermints.