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I had a similar problem when feeding my dogs “grain-free” food that still had a LOT of plant material in it from potatoes, peas and various starches. Stools were much larger and more frequent. My dogs now eat a raw food that has only a little plant material and their stools are tiny compared to before.
Most “grain free” kibble replaces the grain with other plant-based calories like peas, potato, sweet potato, lentils, beans, etc. Dogs don’t seem to digest a lot of this stuff as well as one might expect!
Tabitha (Dr. Thompson)
It’s great that you’re trying to rule out major physical diseases through diagnostic testing. If nothing is found, I urge you to find a holistic vet who is interested in nutrition. This is an area that just isn’t covered well in most conventional vet practices.
I work with dogs with similar problems often. I find that once I talk to their owners/guardians at length, there are usually a host of other minor symptoms that have been overlooked. I personally love using homeopathy and nutrition/supplements to help dogs in situations like this.
I only work with people who are local to Phoenix, AZ, but you can look for a vet near you (or one who does phone consultations) at http://theavh.org or http://www.ahvma.org/find-a-holistic-veterinarian/
There are many articles about dog nutrition and holistic health care on my blog: http://naturalalternativesvet.com/blog You might find some of them helpful in your situation.
Tabitha (Dr. Thompson)October 19, 2016 at 8:30 am in reply to: Dry food for yorkie with lots of strange food allergies. #90814 Report Abuse
Have you considered using a canned dog food? I’ve found it is better in many situations for dogs with sensitivities to food. It is less processed, has more natural moisture, and usually has a lower carb content.
One I looked at recently with a client was Merrick Limited Ingredient Turkey (although it does contain peas). Nature’s Variety Instinct canned food line has several choices for ingredients on your list (also contains some peas). Since you have a small breed dog, it might not be too much more hassle to feed canned food and could be very beneficial.
As always, I recommend a slow change over one or two weeks. Using a probiotic and digestive enzyme during the change and for several months after the change will help prevent digestive upset.
The bottom line on “food allergies” is that it’s not a normal state for dogs. It’s rarely just the food causing problems. Instead, there are deeper issues that should be treated. Many dogs in my practice have been able to eat foods they were formerly sensitive to after treatment of underlying disease. Chasing “the perfect food” is a dead end as most dogs become sensitive to more ingredients over time when the underlying disease is not addressed.
You can read more about dog nutrition and holistic health on my blog: http://naturalaternativesvet.com/blog
Tabitha (Dr. Thompson)September 27, 2016 at 3:36 pm in reply to: Dog won't eat new food for first time? (Raw beef heart) #90357 Report Abuse
I would wonder if that particular batch of heart might be a bit off. Not rotten, per se, but dogs have super sensitive noses and it could be less fresh than you think or could have some other change from the cow’s diet, medicines, etc. Maybe he’d like to try some heart from a different source. I don’t think I would try masking the smell with vinegar but instead trust your doggy’s nose wisdom :).
Tabitha (Dr. Thompson)
Not what you want to hear, but remember that having an appetite IS a healthy thing! It does seem like certain foods can make dogs hungrier than others, though. I wonder if a lower-carb food would minimize this effect?
That’s such a tough spot to be in. It seems like a lot of dogs with serious diseases get to the point where they LOVE a particular food one day and hate it the next.
One tip I can offer: even if the dog readily eats a food, don’t offer it again for a few days. For some reason, they quickly develop aversions and by not offering the “loved” food for at least a couple days gives their brain a chance to get excited about the food again.
Two other tricks to try: sprinkle Purina Fortiflora on the food. It’s kinda junky, but it’s chock full of flavor enhancers that many animals adore. When you’re desperate, it’s a trick worth trying. Parmesan cheese may have the same effect when sprinkled on food.
September 11, 2015 at 6:42 pm in reply to: Itchy doggy, food tips? Cant do raw, whats the next best thing? #78097 Report Abuse
- This reply was modified 5 years, 6 months ago by T.
I have to chime in here… I fear too many people get overly focused on food allergies and forget that we’re talking about an entire living organism. I don’t believe dogs just develop food allergies out of the blue. I believe they have some weakness in their health that allows food allergies to occur. Not to mention that we feed them food their body is not equipped to deal with.
Anyway, don’t forget to think about creating a healthy, holistic animal! There are so many things you can do to help itchy skin besides changing to a different protein kibble. You can read some of the articles on my blog for more ideas.
I’ve had many clients tell me their pets eat poop. It occasionally seems to cause digestive upset, but surprisingly, many dogs don’t seem very bothered by it!
I would definitely try to stop them sooner rather than wait because it does seem to become a habit. Picking up the poop right away and telling them “leave it” is the easiest place to start. There are products (including pineapple juice) which you add to the food to make the poop taste bad enough they won’t want to eat it. You’d think it already tastes bad enough :).
Dog Foodie- hahaha! I didn’t know I had it set to send that PDF! I was testing it out and guess I actually set it up. I don’t think you got the final version- I’ll have to check. I’m thrilled to hear you liked it, though! If you want the final version I can email it to you :). I need to let people know that’s a freebie for signing up on my blog.
- This reply was modified 6 years, 3 months ago by T.
Sorry about the bad link. Try this: http://www.wysongepigen.net/Epigen%20-%20The%20Rationale%20for%20Protein%20Isolates.pdf
or just go to this page and click the link near the bottom that talks about protein isolates: http://www.wysongepigen.net
The article on the site you linked to makes me never want to get involved with commercial pet food politics. I personally would not use that as a guideline for how good the pet food is. That statement comes off harsher in writing than it would sound if I said it to you in real life :). I guess I’m just saying it seems like people get super amped up about issues that concern money and pet health. It’s easy for the truth to become entangled in emotion.
It’s kibble. It may be better than some others, but it’s still dried up/processed meat and vegetable what not in a bag. I know Wysong has a good reputation but I doubt I will ever give my full blessing to this type of food for continuous, long-term use.
“Part of the problem i have… seems that every food has “something” we need to watch for. Peas, Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes, Legumes, Yeast, Oats, Grains, etc.”
That’s because it’s hard to make kibble without some sort of starch. It’s like making meatballs with no breadcrumbs– they won’t stick together. That’s part of the reason that simply changing from kibble to the canned version of the same food can be a big help. Almost always, canned food has less starch in it since it doesn’t have to form kibbles. It tends to have fresher nutrients as well. Something to consider!
I just moved back to a high-risk flea state from AZ and I’ve been trying to remember all the ways to control fleas. When I lived in TN, the product that everyone said worked great was Fleabusters powder. In those days, you had to pay a service to come apply it in your home. Now you can buy it OTC and apply it yourself: http://amzn.to/13B0G4t
Anyway, it’s borate and non-toxic. Just wanted to mention this as an alternative to diotomaceous earth. The other product I’ve been checking out is Evolv spray for prevention on the animal. Has anyone here had experience with this? I don’t expect it to work as well as a synthetic, but does it help at all?
Best of luck with your flea warfare! Don’t give up, you will eventually win.
The traditional Chinese veterinary medicine people have an interesting way of looking at this. Many ear infections qualify as “damp heat.” Foods that engender dampness include sweet and starchy foods. Therefore, in pets prone to dampness, avoiding damp-causing foods (lower carbohydrate level) is often advised. Damp DRAINING foods are sometimes used and these include: alfalfa, barley, Job’s Tears (a grain), and pumpkin- amongst many others.
Dry kibble dog food is usually thought to add to the problem when considering health from an TCVM perspective.
I agree with what BCNut and Susan said, too, an elimination diet trial with real food would be a really good idea, too! I’m working on writing a PDF that tells how to do a version of elimination diet trial.
I wrote an article on my blog about this recently:
Oh, it makes me sad to hear stories like this… I know it seems expensive to upgrade food, but it’s going to be hard to get your dog in better health eating a sub-optimal diet. I think of it like a person spending lots of money on “fat burning belts” and jiggling machines to lose weight while still eating a box of Twinkies a week and drinking a liter of Coke daily. You can’t pour enough stuff on from the outside to make up for what’s going on inside.
Any money you put toward a diet upgrade will pay off in better health and less money spent trying to “Band-Aid” problems. I do salute you for caring and trying to come up with solutions. I don’t mean to criticize your efforts! Just saying I hope you’ll reconsider how you think about the value of diet. I can think of a couple of dog foods I really like that cost about $60-70/month to feed a 50 lb. dog. Would that be do-able?
One last thing– buying a lot of dry dog food at one time means it’s not going to be at all fresh when you feed it. The fats in it do not stay fresh for that long and can really add to health problems. Dogs need fresh fats! It’s a problem with all foods, especially stale kibble.
I have a few articles about foods on my blog if you’re interested: http://naturalalternativesvet.com
You’ve gotten some good advice here. I just want to add my vote for trying some alternative treatments like laser, acupuncture, chiropractic, and physical therapy. These things may take a bit of time but can help a lot and don’t cause the side effects that Metacam can cause, especially long-term.
Dori, seriously— your dogs have had MRI and CT without sedation? I’ve never seen any clinic that was willing to do that! You must have super well-behaved dogs :).
I prefer to avoid sedation whenever possible, too, but a lot of vets don’t see it that way.
Skin issues can be so frustrating! If he’s chewing the skin, it’s most likely itchy. Causes for itchy skin can include: inahalant or food allergy, food sensitivity, gastrointestinal imbalance, external parasites, or less commonly autoimmune disease, liver disease, etc.
Skin problems are one of the most common presenting complaints in the patients I see. I’ve had some good success with concentrating on optimizing gi function, feeding whole foods, using acupuncture and herbs. Avoid strong meds unless it is a real emergency. Steroids and antibiotics may suppress symptoms for a while, but the problem is still there! Symptoms are the body’s way of telling us there is a problem and we want to address the problem, not just suppress the symptom.
Hope that makes sense… I have some articles on my blog about food, allergies, and skin if you’d like to check it out: http://naturalalternativesvet.com/category/blog
I’m a holistic veterinarian in Bloomington, IN and food/skin issues are one of my obsessions! Best of luck to you.
If your dog is still limping on one of the legs, it might be worth having him rechecked. Bulging disc is a diagnosis that is presumptive based on certain symptoms but can be difficult to confirm without advanced imaging such as MRI or myelogram. If it’s a back leg he’s limping on, it seems somewhat less likely that it would be due to a bulging disc, although it is possible.
I’ve seen dogs get their patella stuck out of the correct position and cause a lot of discomfort until it pops back in. Sounds like what you are describing. But if he is still lame, that could be a bit more of an issue than a grade 1 luxating patella. Consider making a recheck appointment or at the very least, call your vet’s office and tell them what’s happening.
My first thought was food sensitivity with foot licking/chewing and butt-scooting. I like the advice others have given. I support you exploring the possibility of some low-inflammation food.
Maybe a large dose of lifestyle enrichment could be added? I wonder if you have a family member or neighbor who might enjoy doing some long walks with your dog if you are not up to it yourself.
Man, I can relate to that frustrated feeling of your dog having a problem you can’t figure out and not really feeling well yourself. I see a lot of clients who’s pets seem to reflect the stress or health problems of the people living in the house. I sure hope you find some peace soon, although things like this take time to improve.
- This reply was modified 6 years, 7 months ago by T.
The tough thing about phosphorous is that higher protein usually comes with higher phosphorus. A lot of the premium diets these days have high protein, high fat, and lower carbohydrate levels. This brings a higher phosphorus level. Whether a low protein diet is beneficial for dogs with renal insufficiency is controversial but many of the veterinary specialists now say protein should not be severely restricted until the animal is in a more advanced stage of renal disease.
You could ask your vet to hook you up with a veterinary nutritionist– maybe a homemade diet would be an option? Another good quality food that can be custom made (but at a significant investment price) can be had from Just Food for Dogs. You can Google their web site.
If your dog starts feeling worse, getting him to eat will likely be one of your challenges. Be prepared to use bits of different foods and recipes to keep it interesting!
I prefer the calorie basis for evaluating a single product, in fact, because it makes more sense to me. Calculating numbers in terms of HOW MUCH ENERGY comes from carbs/fat/protein is more valuable information than how much the carbs/fat/protein WEIGH, which is sort of what dry matter basis tells you. But like I said, for comparing two different foods, even using dry matter would still let you compare foods.
IMHO, I would just use either dry matter OR calorie basis, but use one consistently. I don’t think getting down to exact detail on percentages is going to make a big enough difference to worry about in most cases. The calculator is meant to facilitate COMPARING dry and wet foods but it’s really not that precise.
When I look at foods, I am usually mostly trying to see what the carb. content is and whether there is an inordinately large amount of fat. It’s a rough guesstimate in any case because even the guaranteed analysis numbers can vary a bit from batch to batch and are usually expressed as “minimum” or “maximum” amounts.
Thanks for the idea, USA Dog Treats! I just went and changed the calculator to assume 8% ash content if it is not entered by the user. I got that number from the article about “ash” content on this web site. Where did you get the number 2-3% for wet food? I hadn’t seen that value before, but would like to learn more about it.
When I have more time, I will try to figure out how to give a choice between wet and dry with check boxes like you suggested.
Dang! That’s got a LOT of chemical power! I like to use a more targeted approach– it’s often plenty to use one of the active ingredients rather than all of them together. Using pyrantel AND fenbendazole is overkill, in my opinion. While these chemicals are “relatively” safe, why give something that serves no purpose and must be metabolized by the animal?
My advice is to identify the parasites that actually are infesting the dog. At the very least, identify those for which the dog is at least at moderate risk of coming into contact with before choosing a specific product.
I love simple, natural and grain free treats that appeal to a wide variety of dogs. Not messy, easy to store, and not too expensive are also important criteria. Current favorite that fits the bill is Stewart’s dehydrated liver treats. About 90% of the dogs I work with love them and I even have some kitty patients that go crazy for these!
You can also get CoQ10 by feeding heart to your pets. You can chop it up and cook lightly. It’s a good whole-food source of many nutrients, including CoQ10!June 22, 2014 at 3:38 pm in reply to: Feeding Your Dog Meat Is (Probably) Going to Kill Him/Her #44985 Report Abuse
When pirates attack your ship, you don’t abandon the ship… you fight the pirates. i.e. when the food source becomes so adulterated that it cannot be used without risking disease, don’t abandon the food source– work to clean it up. Stop buying low grade meat. You vote with your dollars. Organic, range-raised meat is much more expensive than factory-farmed stuff. We all need to stop trying to get 99 cents/lb. meat! We also need to stop trying to feed our pets for 75 cents per day or less! Quality food is worth the extra space in our budgets. Shut off the HBO and buy some grass-fed meat!
I followed a vegetarian diet for a year. Coincidentally or not, my health declined steeply after that year. It wasn’t the only factor, but I believe it didn’t help matters. Ethically, I’m a vegan sympathizer. Nutritionally, I’m an ancestral health sympathizer. For people and animals.
There ya go. That’s my opinion.
Tabitha Thompson DVM
In my experience, many picky eaters are that way for one of two reasons:
1. They’re overfed. They are hardly ever hungry because they’re getting more than enough calories already (usually overweight, too).
2. Their GI tract is not very happy. Eating makes them have some sort of discomfort so they wait until they’re really hungry or until there is something that smells/looks/seems perfect.
Fixing #1 is easy. Have a day of fasting. Next day, the appetite should be better. It’s OK to give water on fasting day. This can be done occasionally or even weekly.
Fixing #2 can be more involved. I almost always recommend probiotics, digestive enzymes, and some easily digested fresh foods.
Hope that helps!
http://naturalalternativesvet.comJune 13, 2014 at 6:56 pm in reply to: What good quality protein dry food to try next? (pup has skin allergies) #44248 Report Abuse
Let me just stick my standard cheer in here… upgrade the food and also use a fresher form than kibble, even if it’s only canned food. I’ve seen many people us Nature’s Variety Instinct, Merrick, and similar premium brands successfully. Also, use a good probiotic without a bunch of extra junk (Proviable is a decent choice) and a digestive enzyme for a couple of months. After a few weeks of adjusting to a new food, think about adding some fresh sources of fats and vitamins such as sardines, eggs and liver (start slow).
Itchy skin in a dog this young has a high likelihood of having to do, at least in part, with diet.
Pred can cause a quick turnaround for SOME dogs, but I’ve seen more than one who did not have a miracle cure from it. Without a histological diagnosis (biopsy) it’s anyone’s guess what’s going on at a cellular level. That doesn’t stop you from providing some well-considered therapy, though. Have you considered seeing a vet who uses traditional Chinese medicine techniques? I’ve had some decent luck with chronic diarrhea/vomiting/mysterious GI badness using diet, nutritional supplements and herbs +/- acupuncture. And all that stuff can be used in conjunction with pred or whatever conventional meds you are trying.
Herbsmith’s Bladder Care formula looks like it contains herbs that could be very helpful for the right case.
Don’t forget to support gut healing (probiotics, digestive enzymes, L-glutamine, bone broth, etc.) while you are working on finding a diet that works for your guy.
For red, hot, itchy ears (with or without exudate), steer away from “hot” proteins like venison, lamb and chicken. Steer toward rabbit, turkey, white fish. Canned food, homemade cooked, or raw food are all “cooler” than dry kibble. Adding healthy fats like sardines and eggs can be very beneficial, too.
Green veggies can help cool things down, too. Just make sure you puree them or lightly cook or the dog may not derive full benefit of the veggies.
Also, I like Zymox or Zymox HC ear drops as an alternative to the strong meds most vets prescribe.
I agree with InkedMarie. Extra moisture is a big help in preventing crystals/stones. Another factor to consider is the amount of carbohydrates in the dog food. Foods with a lot of plant-derived ingredients (high in carbs) tend to support the formation of urine with a higher pH. Struvite crystals are most likely to form in urine with a pH above 7.0. Yet another reason to move toward a diet closer to the so-called ancestral diet of dogs which had very little carbohydrate.
Another thing to consider is traditional Chinese veterinary medicine. It can clear up bladder inflammation in ways that antibiotics sometimes cannot. I have an article about bladder inflammation on my blog if you’re interested: http://naturalalternativesvet.com/bladder-inflammation-cats-dogs/
Hey, everyone! Glad to see this discussion… One of my favorite topics.
As for proteins, different people classify them in different ways, but in general:
Hot: venison, lamb
Neutral: Beef, rabbit, duck
Cool: turkey, fish, pork
Some people say beef and turkey are also warm. Since most animals are eating chicken, or lamb when I meet them, I end up recommending beef, turkey, duck, rabbit and fish a lot. I am in Phoenix, AZ, very dry and hot much of the year. Seems like animals can tolerate the warmer proteins in the winter, though. Seasonality should influence food choice as well as the constitution of the animal (hyper/”fire” animals may benefit from cooler foods).
It’s OK to feed a little bit of warming food with the cooling diet! Balance is the key word. Also, the cooking method has influence on food energetics. For example, raw lamb would be cooler than boiled lamb. Boiled lamb would be cooler than baked lamb, etc. Green veggies are cooling, in general. Dairy is cool and damp (now I know why I get sinusitis from eating a lot of ice cream!).
I am dreaming of putting together a seminar on the topic of pet foods, food energetics, etc. one day.
Tabitha Thompson, DVM CVM
Adding moisture to the diet would help soften the stool. If he is eating dry kibble, either change to canned or gradually work up to 50:50 dry and canned food. If you’re feeding canned food and the stool is still too hard, you could try adding a small amount of liver to the diet. That softens the stool and is extremely beneficial in other ways!
Dogs are not really built to eat a much plant fiber. However, if you wanted to add psyllium husk (Metamucil) this acts as fiber and is relatively innocuous. I agree with Naturella’s comments about adding probiotics and enzymes :).
Tabitha Thompson, DVM CVA
A commercial raw diet may be the easiest way for you to try a very low carbohydrate diet for your dog. The major brands are relatively easy to feed (frozen patties) and contain all the vitamins and minerals to sustain life long-term. For example, Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw frozen patties have very low carb content.
Here’s an article on my blog about a few brands of commercial raw food:
Habitually eating non-food objects is not normal behavior for adult dogs. Don’t forget to think about whether you are meeting nutritional needs (with high-quality, meat-based, preferably FRESH foods) and supporting good digestion!
Boredom may also be a factor. It is tough to give dogs enough mental and physical stimulation when they live in a house, have limited yard space and are cared for by working people. I’m not criticizing— I deal with the same challenges. Just trying to point out some lifestyle factors you may not have considered :).
Coprophagia is normally a juvenile behavior that dogs outgrow. Some dogs may continue into adulthood. The behavior may have different origins, not the least of which is “stomach heat” and inadequate nutrition (i.e. non-species appropriate food, non-fresh food, etc.).
I sound like a broken record, but consider a gradual change to a real food, grain-free, low-carb. diet whether it be cooked or raw food. Add digestive enzymes to meals and use a probiotic for several months.
Damage control/breaking the habit in the short term: Only let the dogs out to eliminate when you are there to supervise. Pick up all feces immediately. If you see the dog start to think about eating a pile, give a “no” command and re-direct their attention so you can pick up the poop. Treat it as a training task much as you would teach “sit” or “stay.”
Hope that helps! By the way, I’m a holistic veterinarian in Phoenix and I have a blog at http://naturalalternativesvet.com/category/blogApril 9, 2014 at 10:13 am in reply to: Atopic dermatitis/yeast issues, smartest food choice? #38310 Report Abuse
Itchy skin/atopy/food allergy/food sensitivity is rarely an isolated problem. It is often a symptom of a deeper health issue. Many things can predispose an animal to be more inflamed and react to foods, pollens, etc. In my experience, it is not usually as simple as giving an animal a “prescription hypoallergenic” diet. If only it were!
You should consider environmental toxins (including materials the toys/beds, etc. are made of), over-vaccination, stress, sleep, and so many other things that can contribute to irritating the body systems. Do this in addition to simplifying the diet, using fresh/minimally processed foods, avoiding inflammatory foods (especially GMO grains, maybe all grains), and supporting gut health (probiotic, glutamine, digestive enzymes, etc.). It’s a big puzzle you have to work on one piece at a time.
I’m a holistic veterinarian in Phoenix and I have a blog here: http://naturalalternativesvet.com/category/blog
Good luck! I know it can be really challenging, but you CAN make positive changes. Don’t give up!
Have you tried feeding him any of the canned foods (Nature’s Variety Instinct, Merrick, etc.), fresh commercial foods (FreshPet, Just Food For Dogs, etc.), or considered cooking for him (Just Food for Dogs is a good option if you need a recipe)? Digestive enzymes may help as well as some alternative therapies such as herbs, acupuncture, food therapy, etc.
Westies are sort of known for exactly these sort of issues you’re describing. As they get older, it can definitely be even more of a challenge to figure out.
I’m a holistic veterinarian in Phoenix. If you were in my town, I would evaluate all of his symptoms, habits and preferences to try to identify imbalances. Then I’d use acupuncture, Chinese herbs and food therapy to help balance him. If you’re interested in this sort of veterinary care, you could check if there is a vet near you who knows about TCVM here: http://tcvm.com/Resources/FindaTCVMPractitioner.aspx
If you would like to read my articles about pet food, here is a link: http://naturalalternativesvet.com/category/blog/food-therapy-for-pets/
Some vets (including me) do believe stress can contribute to bladder inflammation. Moving PLUS a diet change may have tipped the scale just enough and allowed things to go awry.
I just recently wrote an article on bladder inflammation on my blog. Check it out: http://naturalalternativesvet.com/bladder-inflammation-cats-dogs/
The first thoughts I have are: a) he doesn’t want to eat the kibble you’re offering, and b) maybe his stomach doesn’t feel great even if he’s asymptomatic, and c) maybe he’s not getting enough exercise to help the hormones that influence appetite (and everything else).
Without knowing anything else about him, I would think you could institute these changes safely with most any dog:
1. digestive enzyme with each meal
2. probiotic for at least 2 months
3. work up to at least 30 minutes OUTDOOR exercise each day.
I would also encourage you to explore the use of fresh foods- either homemade or commercially prepared as a supplement or the entire diet. They’re usually easier to digest and have more biologically active compounds.
My dogs love the beef flavor of Freshpet Select as well as the chicken flavor. ‘Course they love pretty much any kind of fresh food!
I am curious to know how the allergy to potato was diagnosed. Was it based on a food trial or on blood or saliva testing?
I agree with Shawna, sweet potatoes are different than white potatoes and may be tolerated ok.
Fortunately, canines don’t have a big need for starches or grains in their diet, so if all else fails, you could consider a diet without them.
I think both gulping and indigestion could contribute to excessive flatulence (passing gas). Indigestion, food intolerance or some other cause for GI imbalance is likely the biggest factor, though. Especially if the stool is sometimes abnormal.
You might try hand feeding her, one kibble at a time, having her sit and wait in between each bite. This will prevent the gulping and help with self-control and bonding to you. If you try this for a week or so and the gas is still a problem, you might think about trying some different dog foods.