Anal Gland Problems

Dog Food Advisor Forums Diet and Health Anal Gland Problems

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  • #65168 Report Abuse
    Judy D

    I am fostering a 10# pooch for 1.5 yrs who has needed internal gland cleaning every 3 weeks. I “enjoyed” the hard, no-stink poop from Science Diet. I found a good deal on BilJac and Happy Hips 8 weeks ago so I bought it. Lo and Behold, she’s not had a gland problem for 8 weeks! No way I was able to get her to eat pumpkin, her poop smells now (didn’t before). This was not an intentional change on my part, but if I didn’t see it myself, I wouldn’t have believed that this dog would ever be better. I’m afraid to buy Science Diet for her again (note – that’s all I fed my Maltese for 10 years, and never had this problem).

    #84196 Report Abuse
    Leslie M

    I have a seven year old cattle dog? Mix that this past year started having chronic anal gland impactions. She has been on blue buffalo chicken and rice since we rescued her 5 years ago with no problems till now. We have had to take her to the vet to express her anal sacs at least once a month this past year. She gets 2 soft chew Glandex and an express ease hard chew stick every day. She gets green beans in her food which is mixed with some canned blue buffalo of different flavors. The last time we took her in to have them expressed the next day she was already dragging her butt around on the carpet. she seems pretty itchy too so that sounds to me like an allergy. I’m at a loss as to what to try on her next. I have tried a couple different foods – grain free, bison, venison. any ideas?

    #84198 Report Abuse

    The best thing that you can do for a dog that has a tendency to have impacted anal glands is to learn how to express them yourself. Check YouTube for how to videos.
    Have your vet tech/vet go over how often this needs to be done for your dog (once a week?)
    With the right diet, exercise and routine care, you may find the condition will clear up quite a bit and you may not have to express the anal glands as often…if at all after a while.
    Make sure she is drinking adequate water, maybe add a splash to her meals.

    Find a food that will give her firm stools, rather than mushy (less likely to get clogged in the anal glands).
    Also, some dogs have better stools on canned food, others do better on kibble. Buy small amounts of the recommended foods and see what works, sometimes it takes a week or two to see a difference.
    Plus, feed only once or twice a day, don’t leave food down.

    PS: My 15 year old small breed who needs help to have 2 bowel movements a day does best on Nutrisca Salmon and Chickpea dry as a base soaked in water overnight with a tablespoon of a topper canned or chopped up chicken, meat or scrambled egg. Three small meals a day and a bite at bedtime.

    #84199 Report Abuse

    Excerpts (out of context) from article below:
    click on link for full article.

    Anal sacs are the reservoirs for the secretions of anal glands which are located on either side of a dog’s anus, at approximately four and eight o’clock. These sacs contain liquid secretions from the anal gland, which, in healthy animals, are normally pale yellow-brown to grayish in color. The contents are usually emptied during normal bowel movements, or when a dog is nervous or scared. In most animals, these sacs empty easily. However, some dogs, especially small breed dogs, are not able to empty the sacs properly and become susceptible to anal sac disease.
    Transmission or Cause:
    The cause of anal sac disease is unknown. Smaller dog breeds, such as Chihuahuas and poodles, are most often affected. Excessive anal gland production, soft feces or diarrhea, poor muscle tone, and obesity also contribute to higher risk of developing anal sac disease. Anal sac abscess tends to occur after an impacted anal gland has become so severely swollen and infected that the anal sac forms an abscess and ruptures.
    Expression of the anal sacs every few weeks or months often will help prevent anal gland fluid from accumulating and becoming thickened again. High fiber diets have been shown to help prevent anal sac disease in at-risk dogs, especially those that are obese.

    PS: Hope this helps, I don’t want to play “Dr Google”, obviously anyone can look up stuff and find articles that support their opinions, however, some articles are better than others, imo 🙂 See what your vet recommends.

    #84362 Report Abuse

    Hi, all:

    Just found this forum trying to dig up info on anal sac issues. My redbobe coonhound rescue (approx 2 years old) had developed a problem. Vet has expressed twice, has offered surgery … but I want to solve this wholistically.

    He isn’t overweight, but I read that weight can be a problem, so I’ve put him on a bit of a diet, trying to take off a few pounds

    He is eating grain free, mostly canned with some kiblle (go limited ingreditents) (well, except for treats and sharing bits from my plate), I usually feed him Duck as main protein or else whitefish, main brands Wellness Simple, Cocolicious, and some others (I try to mix). I do feed pumpkin, and lately grated raw carrot (found that idea online), some omega 3 fish oil, occasionally yogurt….

    His stools are good, but lately he seems to be very itchy also, scratching ears and chewing legs a bit.

    Just googled and saw that apparently there is a test for food sensitivity (not allergy). Anyone done that? Good results in finding out what could be cause?

    Thank you in advance. Any suggestions greatly appreciated.


    • This reply was modified 6 years, 8 months ago by ilse.
    #84364 Report Abuse

    Food sensitivity tests are known for both false positives and false negatives, so are unreliable. Try a limited ingredient diet that is poultry and grain free. Sometimes dogs with food sensitivities react to classes of food, so if they are sensitive to chicken, they may be sensitive to turkey, duck, goose, and quail too. They can also be sensitive to many different foods, like poultry, grains, and legumes. Good luck on identifying your dogs triggers. I’ve been working on this with my dog for 3 years now and I’m still finding things he reacts to.

    #84365 Report Abuse

    Try malaseb shampoo, or any gentle shampoo (only) for now, twice a week if you notice it helps. Don’t put anything else on the skin as it may cause irritation and make it worse and don’t make diet changes until you see the vet and he approves.
    Her symptoms may have nothing to do with the food.
    Food sensitivies (food allergies are rare) usually result in GI disturbances such as vomiting and diarrhea, not pruritus (itching) and rashes.

    I have a dog with environmental allergies she responded to treatment from a dermatologist and is stable now, she can eat anything but does best on Nutrisca Salmon and Chickpea dry a base.
    She receives Allergen Specific Immunotherapy. It’s the only thing that helped.

    So work with your vet, he may have prescribe meds to get things under control, if you don’t see improvement within a month or two and the dog appears to be suffering, consider seeing a specialist for skin testing. The vet can do blood testing, but the skin testing is the most accurate for environmental allergies.

    Don’t be fooled by mail-in saliva and hair tests, they are not accurate. People complain that their dogs test positive for everything!

    Do not give any over the counter medication…or any medication unless it is prescribed by a veterinarian.

    Also, you can use the search engine here: “allergies” and “anal glands”

    #84366 Report Abuse

    Food sensitivities usually result in GI distress such as vomiting and diarrhea. Food allergies are rare.
    It may be time to consider getting the skin testing done by a dermatologist/specialist.

    You may find this site informative.
    “Atopic dermatitis is a hypersensitivity or over-reaction to a variety of commonplace and otherwise harmless substances in the environment such as plant pollens, house dust mites or mold spores. Most pets with atopic dermatitis either inhale or absorb their allergens through their skin. Allergy tests are used to identify what a pet is allergic to in their environment”.

    PS: If your vet has suggested surgery, your dog’s condition must be serious. I would listen to him and/or consult an internal medicine specialist.

    excerpt below from:
    Food Allergies are probably over-diagnosed in dogs (they account for, perhaps 5-10%). Hypoallergenic diets are occasionally, but not frequently, helpful in canine atopy cases but you should always give them a try. Food intolerances are more common – but considerably more likely to result in digestive disturbances and diarrhea than in itching problems.

    Also, via the search engine here:

    BTW: Allergen Specific Immunotherapy does not address food allergies (rare) or food sensitivities.

    A common environmental allergen is the household dust mite, also known as Cockroach, American and Tyropagus putrecentiae. And, no, you don’t have to have cockroaches in your home. These microscopic particles are everywhere, airborne and on the skin of all living things…including you! Constantly being shed all year round.

    Frequent bathing (Malaseb) might help but it won’t completely solve the problem. Also, allergies tend to get worse as the dog gets older.

    Folks will recommend an elimination diet, but how will you know if the dog is responding to environmental allergies, which is causing what? I didn’t find elimination diets helpful.

    #84372 Report Abuse

    Wow. Wish doggie could talk!! He had runny eyes last year, and it seemed to go away over the winter, so there may be some environmental triggers. I guess figuring out what they might be will be the challenge.

    I don’t think the problem with anal sacs is that serious, vet expressed twice so far, but I suspect that maybe there is more than one thing at work here.

    Maybe i will try changing the main protein (I was so happy I had nice, solid poop now) and this shampoo as well. It just upsets me when he is whining, and I have no idea why and can’t find any obvious reason. If I can’t figure this out soon, there is a holistic vet in the area, maybe I will book an appointment there.

    thank you all for the wonderful leads.

    ilse (and Vanek the hound)

    #84376 Report Abuse

    There are quite a number of people here with dogs that have food sensitivities that results in itching, rashes, staph infections, hotspots, anal gland fluid overproduction, sebum overproduction, etc., including my dog. I put him on an elimination diet and as soon as I got him off of the foods he reacts to all symptoms ceased. His symptoms only ever return when he is given a food that he reacts to, so yes, food sensitivities do result in the symptoms you are seeing, so it is definitely something to look into.

    If it is a food issue, with a properly run elimination diet, you can easily tell if the dog is reacting to certain foods. The only time there is difficulty is if there are also skin allergies that are causing the exact same responses. Those allergies tend to be seasonal. That’s how you know whether or not you are dealing with skin allergies. Also, certain types of allergies are recognizable due to where on the body the dog is reacting. That’s one area where a good vet comes in. They get to recognize those signs very quickly.

    You will notice that I use the term food sensitivity rather than allergy. If you read some of the many threads here about food allergies and food sensitivities, you will see that vets often use the terms interchangeably, but we are talking about different things due to the differences in the dog’s immune system. The different types of food sensitivities that dogs experience are because they may have several different types of immune responses, IgA, IgE, IgM, and others. The “true” allergy causes hives, localized swelling, breathing difficulty, anaphylactic shock and is rare. Food sensitivities may result from damage to the gut lining and cause itching, redness, heat, sebum(skin oil glands) overproduction, staph infections and hotspots, etc. Food intolerances cause symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, colitis, gas, abdominal pain, etc. They are all different, but they are all immune problems and get lumped into the term allergies. And many vets try to treat them all the same with drugs that are not good for the dog, instead of trying to get to the cause of the problem.

    #84446 Report Abuse

    “I don’t think the problem with anal sacs is that serious, vet expressed twice so far, but I suspect that maybe there is more than one thing at work here.”

    Hmmm, is that your opinion? You may want to ask the veterinarian that has examined your dog what he thinks? After all, I assume he went to school for 8+ years after HS (as much as a medical doctor). Maybe he knows something.

    #84455 Report Abuse

    No disrespect meant to the vets on this list. However, the vet i consulted did not find any indications of tumor or infection, and as far as i understand, many dogs have those anal sacs expressed regularly for the duration of their lives. He really had no suggestions other than to keep expressing or do surgery.

    No advice on effect of weight, diet, or anything else. I’m having to do all my own research, find out about possible connections to diet, weight, and more.

    I apologize if I caused offense to “anonymous.” I am sure vets are much like other medical doctors; some are good

    #84457 Report Abuse

    No need to apologize. Sometimes anal gland issues go away. Sometimes they are related to allergies (environmental) I hope you find a solution. Keeping the weight down, exercise, diet changes, all seem to help too. Routine expression does keep the condition under control.
    After you find what helps, it may not be needed.

    • This reply was modified 6 years, 8 months ago by anonymously.
    #84458 Report Abuse

    My newfoundland poodle used to get anal gland problems as a puppy – they were really bad. The groomer wouldn’t express a puppy, and we didn’t wanna right away spend money on a vet. So I read the internet and found out about pumpkin puree. It worked like magic. As he grew up his anal gland issues went away, but I always keep a can on hand for those once in a blue moon situations. I would recommend pumpkin puree to any dog parent.

    #84575 Report Abuse

    Going to the vet is more important than going to the groomer. Grooming is cosmetic. Anal gland issues are medical.

    #86401 Report Abuse
    Zita G

    Has anyone tried brands with pumpkin in them.

    #90745 Report Abuse
    Sharon S

    I just left my Oliver at the vet to flush out & inject antibiotics in his anal glands. They are going to also clean up a very bad hot spot at the base of his tail. The vet said he could have as many as 3 issues going on ( this after a miserable week at home after getting his glands expressed last Monday)

    Issues: hot spot causing extreme pain
    Anal glad compaction continues
    Stool being too loose all the time

    I’ve decided to hold off on the stool issue presently.

    It’s been a horrible week for us both & my pocketbook. I did start the pumpkin purée. I don’t know what I will do if this doesn’t work.

    #90746 Report Abuse

    My dog, Scooter, has not had any anal gland problems since putting him on a chicken and grain free diet and giving him Glandex everyday more than two years ago. Prior to that I had to have his gland expressed every here weeks and two rounds of antibiotics.
    Even the assistants that work at my vets office are using it now with the same results.
    Give it two to three months to kick in.

    #90747 Report Abuse

    See my posts above under screen name “anonymously”
    It may not be about the food, in extreme cases the vet can remove the anal glands, it is a simple operation and solves the problem.

    Do you mean hot spots all over the body? Or just localized near the rectum……see what your vet recommends.

    PS: I have never fed pumpkin to a dog.

    #90755 Report Abuse
    Sharon S

    Well the vet said we did the right thing having his glands flushed. The glands were really swollen. Turns out this hot spot is the size of a grapefruit! Oliver is only a 20# dog! Gosh I hope this helps, we are in to day 8 of misery. I may yet have to have his stools analyses for a variety of possibilities. Wish me luck!

    #90778 Report Abuse
    Sharon S

    Today’s follow up appt has me perplexed. It’s been 2 days since the founding suing & treatment of the he huge hotspot. Oliver won’t walk generally. He runs from spot to spot & quickly sits down. Yes he’s probably still uncomfortable but I can’t help but think he also won’t walk because he KNOWS I’ll carry him! The vet said we can do back X-rays. Guess that’s next if nothing changes. Any suggestions to ‘suss’ ‘ out if his behavior is just that, & not a ton of pain? The vet couldn’t identify major pain.

    #90780 Report Abuse

    Give him time, it’s going to be uncomfortable for a while. Let him rest. If you don’t see improvement in 72 hours give the vet a call, maybe a pain med prescribed by the vet would help? It may take 10 days to 2 weeks for him to be back to normal.

    PS: If he is eating (has an appetite) that means it may be discomfort as opposed to pain.
    Usually when an animal is in pain they won’t eat.

    #90782 Report Abuse

    Hi Sharon,

    One of my girls, who is also a 20# dog, had a small hot spot (about the size of a quarter) on her backside, and she would also run from spot to spot and then sit down quickly. In the house I was keeping a loose diaper on her so she could not chew or lick the area and I discovered she was more comfortable having the hot spot covered. When I took the diaper off, she would start the running and sitting again whether inside or outside. This behavior did not go away until the hot spot was completely healed and the hair was growing back which was around 3 weeks.

    #90786 Report Abuse

    I would leave the wound uncovered, open to the air, unless the vet advises differently.

    #90787 Report Abuse

    Oh, I would definitely carry him outside to go to the bathroom. It may be uncomfortable for him to squat, he will need extra time as he may try to avoid having a bowel movement due to the discomfort involved.

    #90789 Report Abuse

    Anon101, my vet must have gone to a different school than you, because it was advised to loosely cover the area to prevent any chewing and licking.

    #90790 Report Abuse

    Your vet was speaking specifically to the treatment of your dog, an animal that he examined.
    That does not mean that advice would work for the OP’s dog.

    Ps: When you cover up an open wound sometimes you encourage bacteria and infection to flourish.
    So, it depends on the location of the wound and other factors determined by the vet that is treating the dog as to what would be best.
    Just my opinion, not to be taken in lieu of medical advice provided by a veterinary professional.

    #90807 Report Abuse

    Anon101, reread my message to the OP. I did not advise the OP to cover the wound or do anything. I stated the behavior my dog had when she had a hot spot.

    After you stated to the OP what you would do, I stated directly to you, not the OP, that my vet did advise to loosely cover the area to prevent chewing and licking of the wound.

    In my opinion, chewing and licking an already infected wound is more likely to create an environment for bacteria and infection to flourish than loosely covering a wound to prevent chewing and licking. So I suggest we agree to disagree on this point.

    #90812 Report Abuse
    Renee B

    do a pet profile at and see if it comes up with a plan of action for you. Started my doxy on trout based food and have seen great improvement.

    #90813 Report Abuse

    I didn’t see any mention of “chewing and licking”. Often a vet will recommend a cone if this is an issue. The pet stores have soft ones that may be more tolerable. As far as the wound/abrasion/hot spot being covered vs uncovered, I would go by the treating veterinarians orders, often the client is sent home with a treatment plan/instructions regarding wound care.
    Ps: @ CockalierMom Glad your dog responded to treatment and is well
    @ Sharon S Hope your dog heals well and is comfortable
    Peace out

    #92941 Report Abuse
    Jodi L

    I’m really glad I found this topic. My 7 mo old Rotti has been chewing and kicking his rear for what seems like forever! Fleas? Nope, not a one and he’s treated monthly for them. His anal sacs are full? Nope, they seem to be as empty as empty can get. Dry skin, somewhat but not really. Allergies, doesn’t seem to be an issue since it’s the only place on his body that he licks and chew excessively. Yvan became very sick over the Thanksgiving holiday. We were nearly on our way out the door to Michigan state ( A large Veteinary School University) when he made a complete turnaround. He had violent diarrhea, some vomiting and had become lethargic. He went or side and expelled from both ends….came inside and viola! Different dog. Unfortunately about a week later it happened again so we visited the vet this time. Everything checked out fine and since he’d been turning his nose up at his food for a few weeks….but had been trying to eat my others dog food (they are on a different food) we came to the conclusion that the food was not agreeing with him. He was eating at the time Wellness Large Breed Puppy Chicken and whitefish. Immediately took that food away and put him on Royal Canin Gastrointesial food for just about a month with a round of probiotics and not problems with the violent diarrhea or vomiting or lethargy since. I had also noticed that he had stopped the chewing of his rear the week or so that he had the probiotics. So he is now on VertiScience Mega Probiotic. I’ve also began feeding two candy of sardines packed in water and no salt added every week to help with his coat. I’m feeding Fiamond Naturals, No grain Salmon and sweet potato. He’s only been eating it for about 4 days and unless I’m delusional I believe the chewing is diminishing. He’s always had softer stool so I’m hoping that between the food and probiotics that it begins to get better. I couldnt figure out what was going on. Between the metallic breath, lose stool, chewing and biting..I was going insane trying to figure out what was going on with Yvan. I’m firmly convinced that all these symptoms are an anal gland issue caused hopefully by diet. Now that he’s on a Slamon and Sweet potato diet and the probiotics I’m crossing my fingers that when I go out to scoop poop that I’m scooping frozen poopcicles (frozen poop during a Michigan winter) versus frozen cow patties!

    #92942 Report Abuse
    Jodi L

    Out of curiosity, why are some saying remove chicken from the diet?

    #136998 Report Abuse
    Shavon P

    Yes, I agree that the increment of fibre in her food could be helpful. Anal Sac could also cause cancer so you would have to be quick to sort out this issue. However, she is not suffering because of any inflammation or itching then you should keep her away to bit her booty. In this regard, why didn’t you try a cone? I think cones are right to keep dogs to avoid licking and biting. If you are against cones then just try these alternates of cones

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