If your dog's x-rays show gas, you may be worried and wonder what may cause this accumulation. Whether to worry or not, usually depends on how much gas is present and what is causing this accumulation in the first place. Your vet may decide to take a conservative approach initially suggesting medications or dietary changes and see whether there is improvement, or he or she may suggest pursuing further diagnostic tests to go to the root of the problem. Following is some information should your dog's x-rays show gas and some potential underlying causes that may be worthy of investigating.
Presence of Gas in Dog's Abdomen
Dogs may develop gas in their stomach and intestinal treat. Flatulence is the medical term to depict excessive formation of these gases in the stomach or intestines. When gas is trapped in the stomach, gas may be expelled through the mouth via burping. Gas in the intestinal area, instead is usually released by flatulence.
Flatulence in dogs may be attributed to exogenous sources and endogenous sources. Exogenous sources consists of air being swallowed by the dog during eating or drinking. Dogs who eat fast or competitively or dogs with pushed-in face (pugs, Boston terriers, bulldogs, boxers) may be particularly predisposed to ingesting air.
Dogs suffering from respiratory disease or any cause of increased respiratory rate or dogs suffering from nausea may too develop gas due to increased ingestion of air and swallowing from the excess salivation. Normally though, these gases are emitted through burping.
Endogenous gases, on the other hand, are the result of the digestion and fermentation of certain types of food. Certain types of dog food (food containing soybeans, peas or fibrin, psyllium, oat bran) or table scraps (dairy products, cabbage, beans, potatoes) may predispose dogs to this issue. Dogs whose diets are switched over too quickly or dogs suffering from digestive problems where food is not completely digested, may too suffer from accumulation of gas.
Certain medical conditions may too cause excess gas in dogs. Possible conditions include histiocytic ulcerative colitis as seen in boxers and French bulldogs, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), food allergies, parasites, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, bacterial and viral enteritis, liver or gallbladder disease, gastrointestinal neoplasia (cancer) and history of antibiotic use. Typically, dogs with underlying GI disease develop abdominal pain, vomiting or other signs of illness along with the formation of excess gas.
"Flatus, a byproduct of bacterial fermentation, often results from dietary causes—highly fermentable fiber, indigestible carbohydrates, dietary indiscretions or a sudden diet change."~Dr. Claudia Kirk, veterinary nutritionist
My Dog's X-rays Show Gas
A dog's abdominal x-rays are black and white images showing the dog's stomach, liver, spleen and small and large intestines. Any dense parts of the dog's body that block the x-ray machine's beam through the body (such as bones) result as white areas. On the other hand, any soft, less dense parts of the body (such as fat, skin and muscles), allow the x-ray machine beam to pass through resulting in dark, grayish areas.
The presence of gas in the dog's stomach and intestines, being easy for the beam to pass through, results in areas that appear black. Typically, any gas, or air, will normally appear in two places: within the stomach itself, or in various locations moving along the dog's intestinal tract.
Generally, when a dog's x-rays show gas in small amounts, this can be normal depending on the type of dog (dogs with pushed-in faces like pugs and bulldogs tend to ingest a lot of air, dogs who eat quickly or dogs on certain diets may be predisposed too). If the dog' x-rays show gas in large amounts, in the stomach and/or intestines, this is often caused by an obstruction that requires surgical correction. Affected dogs are always suffering though from severe vomiting, explains veterinarian Dr. K.
On top of gas, abdominal x-rays may also show any items a dog may have swallowed; however, not all foreign bodies may be visible. Generally, metal objects such as coins are readily detected, while plastic doesn't typically show as clearly as metal, but it can be seen on occasion, especially if it has an odd shape compared to the dog's normal gut contents or if it displaces stool and normal gut contents.
Fabric such as socks and underwear, string or yarn or paper typically do not show on x-rays. These items though may show up by giving the dog barium, a contrast medium, that would stick to them, highlighting and revealing their presence on x-rays. Abnormal gas patterns on x-rays may also be suggestive of some type of blockage.
The presence of a tumor would not appear black, as it happens with a gas pocket. Rather, tumors tend to appear as some degree of gray.
Treatment for Flatulence in Dogs
Did you know? While before two abdominal x-rays were typically sufficient, nowadays, three x-rays appear to provide more information. According to veterinarian Dr. Anthony Pease, three is better than two. At Michigan State University, indeed, three views are being taken: a right lateral, a left lateral and a ventrodorsal one.
If your dog's x-ray shows gas in excessive amounts, your vet may want o institute treatment. Treatment for flatulence in dogs varies and is based on the underlying causes.
Diagnostically, to find the underlying cause of excess gas in dogs tests may include an ultrasound, blood tests such as serum trypsin-like immunoreactivity (TLI), canine pancreatic lipase immunoreactivity (cPLI) serum cobalamin and folate tests and endoscopic or surgical biopsies.
Dogs who eat too fast may be discouraged from doing so by using apposite food bowls that helps them slow down. Feeding smaller, more frequent meals may also help dogs who ingest too much air in one sitting. If there is competition among dogs, sometimes isolating the dog who eats too fast can yield more relaxed eating habits. Exercising dogs may help too with flatulence, considering that dogs who are for the most inactive are more prone to being gassy.
Dogs who are lactose intolerant should no longer be fed dairy products. Dogs with excessive flatulence due to food allergies may benefit from a highly digestible, novel or limited protein diet. Probiotics are often prescribed too to help re-establish good gut flora. And underlying GI issues obviously require the most appropriate treatment plan.
"If one has a dog that has a problem with flatulence, get them out for exercise and to evacuate his bowels regularly. That should help to reduce the gas problem as well."~Dr. Dottie Laflamme, veterinary nutritionist