Aging female lab has foul-smelling flatulence


Dr. Thompson: My 10-year-old spayed female lab has a terrible gas problem. Her problem started when her regular food’s fiber content increased from about 4 percent to 8 percent. I have been trying other foods with low fiber content, but none I have tried seem to work. 

I elevated her food dish and she eats in a quiet area free of competition. I took stool and urine samples to her vet and he checked for parasites and diabetes and found no evidence of either. 

He had me put her on Science Diet for gastrointestinal health. She still passed foul-smelling gas. I also try to keep her away from products that contain wheat or corn. She gets very little if any table scraps. Any suggestions on what I can do to eliminate her problem?

As someone who shares his house with a dog that has Olympic-caliber room-clearing flatulence, I understand your problem. Although my dog’s issue doesn’t sound quite as pervasive as yours, it certainly makes life with her challenging.

Similar to people, when dogs age sometimes their digestive system undergoes subtle changes that can manifest themselves in a number of ways. 

What you are describing would probably be most accurately described as a dietary sensitivity rather than a true food allergy. You didn’t mention any other symptoms, such as itchy skin or diarrhea, that are typical of a food allergy. Corn and wheat are frequently accused of being the culprits, but any number of protein or carbohydrate sources can trigger food sensitivity.

Every step you and your veterinarian have taken to date is essential to eliminate another disease that can cause the gas. 

Unfortunately, if the diagnosis is a sensitivity, the only way to eliminate the offending food source is through trial and error with restricted protein and carbohydrate diets. The downside is that each food should be given at least a month to determine its success and it might make the problem even worse if you find a diet that triggers a more profound sensitivity.

Adding probiotics to her diet might help as well. While there is little scientific evidence of their success, anecdotal reports suggests they might help some milder conditions. 

There is a veterinary specific product called Fortiflora that may help, but there are any number of options available that you might try. I hope you find a quick and easy solution to this issue, but there may be one unintended consequence of solving her problem you might not have considered: Who will your husband have to blame for unexplained noxious odors? Good luck.

Questions for Dr. Gary Thompson can be emailed to or mailed to The Blade, Attn. Ask the Vet, 541 N. Superior St., Toledo, OH 43660. Dr. Thompson regrets that he cannot answer individual letters.