The anal glands are a pair of small sacs that sit just inside the anus that contain a strong-smelling liquid. Healthy anal glands empty when a dog poos (or sometimes if they’re scared or startled). This strong-smelling liquid used for marking territory & provides other dogs with important information such as gender, size & age.
Any dog can develop blocked anal glands & whilst these glands can be manually expressed/emptied, expressing them frequently can cause irritation and damage to the tissues, so it should only be done routinely in extreme circumstances. That said, if your dog’s anal glands are positioned unusually it can prevent them from expressing naturally & there is often no alternative. Adding psyllium husks to their dinner can help ‘bulk out’ the poo, which may help.
However, if your dog struggles with anal gland issues & has any of the following:
then there’s every chance that some dietary changes may help resolve both issues.
The first step is opt for a good quality, hypo-allergenic, easy to digest food. Because so many food-related allergies & intolerances centre around wheat & gluten we recommend opting for a gluten or grain free diet & to avoid chicken as a precaution. This must also extend to treats and/or table scraps otherwise they will undo all the good work of your quality food.
Aim for a 100% natural diet (to help rid the body of toxins) & good, firm, kickable poo. You may need to experiment a little with fat & fibre tweaks to get the perfect poo but it’s very much worth it.
Unfortunately, anal gland problems often don’t get better quickly. It may take a little while before you see results even if their poo & skin have improved but, over time, things should gradually get better.
Similarly, if you pooch is overweight then embarking on a weight loss programme is essential because excess fat can physically stop the glands emptying – try opting for a food that is around 8% fat or less & feed according to their ideal weight (not their current weight), less 10% - see our obesity section for some tips on low-calorie treats too.
The foods listed below are all 100% natural, gentle on sensitive digestions & very low allergen. For weight loss choose a food that’s around 8% fat.