DanvilleSanRamon.com

Living - April 6, 2007

The Pet Vet says: Owning a dog can be a gas

by Dr. Heidi Strand

Q. My dog sometimes gets very gassy. Is this normal and what could be causing it? She just turned 1 year old.

A. I have the same problem with my lab mix - he can clear the room at times! A small amount of gas is a normal byproduct of your dog's digestion. Gas forms when bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract break down your dog's food. If the flatulence is really frequent and/or really smelly, there are some things you can try. Most people find that some foods cause their pet to be gassier than others. I can't recommend a specific food since every dog's digestive tract is different. But I would recommend sticking to dry food, buying a name brand, and feeding your dog at least twice a day. If you're going to change foods, switch to one with a different protein and carbohydrate source. For example if your dog is eating lamb and rice food, buy one with chicken and corn as the first ingredients. Make sure she goes outside immediately after eating, as this is usually when she will need to have a bowel movement, and holding it in can cause gas. Processed treats such as rawhides may contribute to the problem. And definitely avoid feeding your dog people food!

If none of these suggestions help, or if your dog seems uncomfortable from the gas, or has diarrhea, don't hesitate to consult your veterinarian. Sometimes dogs get an overgrowth of the gas-producing bacteria in their intestines. In that case they will benefit from a course of antibiotics or perhaps a probiotic supplement to replace the "good" bacteria.

Q. I would like to know if having two newly bonded female rabbits (ages 1 and 1-1/2) spayed would be detrimental to the bonding process?

A. You are very fortunate that your rabbits have bonded - usually females tend to fight with each other after puberty. In fact, if you have not already, you should double-check to make sure they are both females! Spaying them will not affect their bonding. In fact it usually improves social interactions with other rabbits as well as people - this is also true for having male rabbits neutered. Not to mention spaying is important to prevent uterine cancer, which is common in rabbits. It can occur as early as 2 years of age, so you should arrange to have your rabbits spayed soon.

- Dr. Heidi Strand is a veterinarian for the East Bay SPCA in Dublin. She has lived in the Tri-Valley for 10 years with her family and an assortment of four-legged friends. Questions can be mailed to 315 Diablo Road, Suite 100, Danville 94526; or e-mailed to hstrand@eastbayspca.org.

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