Saturday, May 3, 2014

Dogs who Poop and Fart too much - A universal problem

Seriously! - dog's poop and farts are a real challenge to the usual loving relationship between pet
I hate being blamed for your farts, Dad!
owners and their pets.

I know that this problem does not compare to child soldiers, domestic violence, abuse, civil war, inequality, poverty, starvation, the homeless, and other really serious hardships that exist in our world.  I have no solution for these world problems, but do try to practice compassion and kindness to all  in my corner of the world, so I hope to make a little difference there. 

But poop and farts is a world wide serious pet problem.  In many households, pets are delegated to the outdoors as a result of their farts.  Many dogs are forced to travel in the back of the car or not allowed to travel at all as a result of their odorous contribution to the environment.

Let us start with farts. 

 It is something that every species does (not sure if there is a non farting species, so if you know, I would love to know).  It is all about how well your pet is able to digest its food, and if undigested or partially digested foods hit the large bowel, then gut bacteria cause gases to be produced, which then results in the good old fashioned fart. 

To my surprise, this is a surprise for many pet owners.

They don't realise that there is a connection between the quality and quantity of the food they feed and the farts their pet produces.

But it can also be a sign of intestinal infection too.  With Piper (our dog) her farts were strong and foul for a few weeks.  We accepted that as part of being a

Eating different foods can often cause
living creature, as she was still a puppy (although it did strain the night time sleeping arrangements).

We were using a lot of different foods for treats, so they also got the blame.  It was only when her diarrhoea began, and her giardia infection identified, then treated, that we realised that her farts were due to the giardia infection.

And more recently, when we ran out of her usual food, and had to purchase a supermarket brand to tide us over,we  found out again, that she was not a welcome bedfellow with the windows closed!

There is only so much you can blame on the other person in the bedroom!

Now onto poop. 

  Have you heard the phrase "rubbish in rubbish out" - well that usually relates to data, but it also applies to dog poop.

Discussion about nutrition is always a controversial topic with owners, especially with the plethora of "nutritional experts" on the internet.  My position is always "what is the right food for that particular animal", rather than generalisations (which includes comments such as "BARF is best", "commercial dog food is best", "Pet mince is best" - these are generalisations and are NOT in the best interest of the individual animal).

 My only two generalisations is that there is a big difference in the super premium foods and the general common food brands, and that home cooked/raw diets are not the best thing for your pet (unless they are specially formulated). 

I come from the generation where the supermarket had two brands of foods - Pal and Chum for dogs, and Whiskas and KiteKat for cats.  Pet shops sold pets, not food, and vets didn't sell anything much. The cat foods were tuna or chicken, and the dog foods all looked the same.

 And we saw a lot of nutritionally based diseases that are uncommon now, as many people also  opted to "home cook", hence my absolute dislike of them ( unless they are specifically designed for that pet).

Excessive poop and obesity is on the increase.  Is there a link? 

Let us explore this big,  big question. 

Yes, there is a link.

 Obesity occurs when too much energy goes in and insufficient energy goes out - i.e too much food, not enough exercise.

Too much poop occurs when too much food goes in.  

The common link? 

 Too much food.


We adopted Piper from the RSPCA at Rouse Hill, and they strongly promoted the super premium foods.  As a vet, I fully support that, so we also fed her a superpremium food (but not the one they used).   Everyone who meets Piper always comments on how shiny her coat is, and this is a lot to do with her great nutrition.

This is the amount we
would feed her of her
"usual" super premium
brand of food.
This is her daily intake.

Yesterday, we were running out of her usual food, and my vet hospital (sadly) was also out of it.   So, Tegan went to the supermarket and bought a bag of food which she said was "one of the better brands".

This is the amount of food we now need to feed
her of the "new" supermarket brand of
food.  This is her daily intake.
Since Piper came into our household, her food is measured out daily and placed into a container, as we then use this for her treats for training, her Kong wobbler, as well as for meals.  When Tegan went to measure out Piper's new food with the recommended amount for her age and weight, she got a shock!

There was a huge difference between the two brands of food. 

That isn't a surprise for me, as changing a brand of food is one of the more commoner causes of weight loss or weight gain in any pet.  People, being creatures of habit, would feed the same amount, no matter what brand it is.

If we didn't look at the "feeding guide" on the side of the bag, and filled out the same amount of food for Piper, we would be wondering why she was losing weight on the new food.
An example of a "feeding guide" - be aware that these are
"guidelines" only, and you should always go back to
your pet's activity and other food treats.

But looking at the amount of food we need to feed her of the new food, the change in poop volume should be no surprise.

No wonder dogs poop a lot if this is amount of food going in.
And as a result of being on this new food for two days, the farts have been pretty awful too!

How does obesity occur if you are feeding using the food guidelines? And not feeding (much) treats?

Well, guidelines are just guidelines.  These guidelines assume you are feeding absolutely nothing else to your dog, but we all know that for most of us, that doesn't happen.  They get the leftover kiddie breakfast, the bikkie at morning tea, a pigs ear here and there, the greenie or dentastix for dental health, and whatever else they can snaffle from someones dinner plate (they are good like that, aren't they).

Obesity occurs because there is a mismatch of the energy going in and the energy going out.  To stop obesity in our pets, we need to always be aware of our pets weight through regular weigh ins.  At Russell Vale Animal Clinic, every pet always gets a weight chart, and sometimes a stern talk from Nurse Dirk if there has been too much weight gain since the last visit.  And sometimes, we get to rejoice on the weight loss too!

We are fortunate that we don't need to run obesity clinics at our vet hospital, as we have very few obese animals (we do have them, but not enough to justify a weight loss class).

I am the mad Dr Liz, and I hope that this helped you solve this common problem in you and your pet's life.  Never let it be said that I won't tackle real down and dirty real world problems.

 But just in case you missed the "take home" message - a high quality food is worth every cent. And if farts persist, seek veterinary advice (there could be an underlying gut infection).

Want to weigh your pet?  Our walk on scales are available for everyone (including luggage if you are travelling - seriously, we have had people come in for this), and we do not charge for any weigh ins, of pets or luggage.