What are anal glands and why are they a big issue in dogs?
Anal glands, also known as anal sacs, are glands located a few inches inside the anus, between the sphincter muscles.
If you have seen your dog sniffing another dog at the back, or your dog getting sniffed, it is because of the anal glands.
The anal glands produce a unique scent that dogs use to mark their territory. The scent is produced every time the dog defecates or rubs his behind against a solid surface. If you have seen your dog sniffing another dog, it is totally normal, and it’s a doggy way of marking its territory.
A healthy dog should produce the scent regularly to empty the glands. However, sometimes the dog may have issues expressing the anal glands naturally, and this could occur due to a health condition or diet problem.
If the glands are not emptied, they will become overfull, and your dog will start rubbing his rear again a wall or carpet. If they are not expressed soon enough, they can become infected and even rupture.
If your vet examines your dog and finds that he is having anal gland problems, he may recommend switching his current diet to the best high fiber dog food for anal gland problems.
This type of diet helps alleviate the problem and eliminates the need to have the anal glands expressed manually every time they are having problems.
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Dog Health Warning Signs
If you notice the above symptoms or suspect that your dog is having anal gland problems, you should contact your vet immediately.
Using a High Fiber Dog Food to Treat Anal Gland Problems
If your dog’s anal gland problems results from a lack of fiber in the diet, the ideal natural solution to this problem would be to introduce a high fiber diet.
Fiber helps alleviate the problem by making the stool firmer to help in excreting the anal gland’s fluids.
Dogs require a mixture of both soluble and insoluble fiber to assist in regular digestion.
Soluble fibers are those that dissolve in water and can be digested in the dog’s system, whereas insoluble fibers cannot be digested in the dog’s digestive system, but can absorb water to add bulk to the poop.
Factors to Consider When Buying High Fiber Dog Food for Anal Gland Problems
The following are the key factors that you should consider when buying a high fiber dog food:
There are two main types of dietary fiber that dogs require to maintain a healthy gastrointestinal balance. They include:
Soluble fiber is the type of dietary fiber that gets digested in your pup’s system. It absorbs water, and it adds water to the dog’s stool to make it easy to pass through the digestive tract to the rectum. It also increases the beneficial bacteria in the digestive tract to assist in digestion.
Insoluble fiber is the type of dietary fiber that is not digested in your pup’s digestive system. It remains unaltered before and after passing through the digestive tract. Its role is to add bulk to the dog’s poop to make it firm and heavier to be able to exert pressure on the anal glands to excrete fluids naturally.
If the stool is too soft due to the absence of fiber, your dog may not receive the benefit that the fiber intends to provide.
Review the guaranteed analysis of the dog food you want to purchase to check the fiber content.
Most premium dry dog foods have fiber content ranging from 3% to 5%, which is an optimal quantity.
Dogs with anal gland problems may require 6% to 10% crude fiber content. Anything beyond the 10% would be too much for the dog to handle.
While considering the ingredients in the dog food, always go for brands that use real animal proteins as the first ingredient. Brands such as Pure Balance use meat as the first ingredient, and you can choose from diets that have bison, chicken, beef, venison, etc. as the first ingredient.
From a dietary fiber perspective, check for dog food formulas that include dietary fiber from wholesome ingredients. Since grains can trigger allergic reactions and cause tummy issues, avoid formulas that include grains such as wheat, corn, and soy. Preferably, look for diets that use wholesome vegetables as the source of dietary fiber.
Also, check the dog formula to see if it contains prebiotics and probiotics to help in regulating digestion, and assisting in anal gland secretion.
Lastly, check where the ingredients used to prepare the diet are sourced from. Most pet food manufacturers disclose where their products are manufactured and where ingredients are sourced. Some trusted countries include North America, Australia, New Zealand, and some parts of Europe.
Some of the best sources of fiber in dog food include:
- Vegetables such as kales, spinach, and broccoli.
- Sweet potatoes.
- Fruits such as Pumpkin, blueberries, and apples.
High Fiber Dog Food for Anal Gland Problems (8 Choices Reviewed)
1. Instinct Raw Boost Healthy Weight Grain-Free
This formula is made in the company’s facilities in Nebraska, US. The company’s philosophy is to provide the nutrition of raw food to get the nutritional benefits of raw unprocessed diets.
The Instinct Raw Boost Grain-free diet is a high-quality dry dog food that is prepared using raw cage-free chicken as the first ingredient. It combines the high-protein kibble with freeze-dried raw chicken bites to provide your dog with a delicious meal without compromising on quality.
This formula includes an ideal fiber level to help your dog with anal gland issues. It has a 7% crude fiber component, which is the ideal level that will help your dog feel full and make the stool firm enough to help with anal gland excretion.
It is also made with fewer fats and calories to help your dog maintain lean muscles. The main sources of fiber include pea, pumpkin seeds, and cranberries. This formula also contains chelated minerals and probiotics.
If you are worried about this formula containing grains, we checked the ingredient list and this formula is truly grain-free. It does not contain corn, soy, wheat, and other grains that may trigger allergic reactions, and cause tummy and digestive issues. Also, it does not contain preservatives, colors, or other artificial additives.
A unique ingredient in this formula is L-Carnitine, a supplement that helps in burning fats and maintaining healthy weights. This ingredient also helps in improving brain health and liver function.
First Five Ingredients:
- Chicken meal
- Menhaden fish oil.
2. Rachael Ray Nutrish Zero Grain Dry Dog Food
The Rachael Ray Nutrish dry dog food is one of the few dog foods that are truly grain-free, and where each ingredient has a purpose.
This dog food is made with US farm-raised beef as the first ingredient. Beef is a rich protein source that most dogs love. The other protein source is real bison that is obtained from US farms.
Bison is classified as a novel protein because it is not often used in dog food, and therefore, less likely to trigger food allergies and digestive issues. This protein is nutrient-rich and contains essential minerals and vitamins that promote healthy organs.
This formula is rich in fibers, and the crude fiber content in this dog food is 4%. This fiber is mainly obtained from the dried peas, whole dried potatoes, dried beet pulp, and cranberries. The whole potatoes and tapioca are alternative carbs that are gentle on the dog’s digestive system since they are grain and gluten-free.
Other notable ingredients include menhaden fish meal which is highly digestible and a rich source of Omega 3 fatty acids; Cranberries are a source of dietary fiber, vitamin A and Vitamin C which boost the immune system.
This formula is grain-free, and it does not contain any gluten or filler ingredients. There no preservatives and artificial additives.
Top five ingredients:
- Chicken meal
- Dried peas
- Whole dried potatoes
- Chicken fat
3. Wellness Core Natural Grain-Free Dry Dog Food
If you are looking for the best high fiber dog food for a small breed such as a Chihuahua, Yorkshire terrier, Pomeranian or Brussels griffon, then this diet is for you. This formula is complete and balanced to meet the nutritional needs of your dog. It is manufactured in Tewksbury, Massachusetts.
This Wellness Core Natural formula is a high protein formula, and it is prepared using de-boned turkey as the first ingredient. Turkey is protein-rich and can be an alternative if your dog is allergic to beef or lamb. It is rich in riboflavin and phosphorus, and it is a lean white meat that helps your pup maintain lean muscles.
Other protein sources are turkey meal and chicken meal, which are the dried end products of rendering, where meat stew is intentionally overcooked to cook away the water to end up with a concentrated protein powder, simply known as meat meal. This meat meal, in this case, is turkey and chicken meal.
This Wellness Core Natural grain-free formula is also rich in dietary fiber. The crude fiber content in this dog food is 5%, which is within the recommended fiber level for dogs with anal gland problems. The fiber-rich ingredients in this dog food include potatoes, peas, spinach, apples, and blueberries.
This formula is 100% grain-free, and it does not contain corn, soy or wheat. It also free from artificial preservatives, flavors, and other additives.
First five ingredients:
- Deboned turkey
- Turkey meal
- Chicken meal
4. Purina Pro Plan FOCUS Sensitive Skin & Stomach
Looking for an alternative to chicken recipe dog food?
Purina Pro Plan Focus is prepared with real salmon as the first ingredient. Salmon is a rich-protein source, and it a great alternative if your pup is allergic to chicken meat. It is a unique flavor that rekindles your dog’s mealtime excitement.
Salmon is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are important in supporting the dog’s immune system. If your dog has a dull coat, this Salmon formula will do the magic and will leave your dog’s skin looking shiny and healthy after a few days’ meals.
Another important ingredient in Purina Pro Plan Focus is rice, which is the main source of carbs. It provides energy to power the dog’s muscles. Rice is also easily digestible.
The Purina Pro Plan Focus is rich in dietary fiber. The crude fiber content in this dog food is 4% and it is obtained from Barley. It also contains probiotics, a beneficial bacteria which helps in promoting a healthy digestive system. This formula is also rich in antioxidants, which support the immune system.
This formula is grain-free, and it does not contain corn, wheat or soy. There are no preservatives or artificial colors.
First five ingredients:
- Ground rice
- Canola meal
- Fish meal
5. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Healthy Weight High Protein Grain Free
Blue Buffalo understands your dog’s appetite for real meat and provides just that. This Blue Buffalo Wilderness high protein formula is prepared with deboned chicken as the first ingredient.
This formula also contains healthy complex carbohydrates which provide energy to power the dog’s energetic muscles. The main carbs include peas, potatoes, and sweet potatoes, which are also rich in dietary fiber. It also contains anti-oxidant rich fruits and vegetables such as cranberries, blueberries, and carrots to promote the immune system.
Blue Buffalo Wilderness Healthy Weight is also rich in dietary fiber. Crude fiber accounts for 10% of this dog food, and it sourced from pea fiber, sweet potatoes, cranberries, and blueberries. It is also rich in Omega 3 & 6 fatty acids which promote healthy coat and skin.
A unique addition to this high fiber dog food is the Lifesource Bits from the Blue Buffalo brand. This is a unique blend of vitamins, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals which are cold-formed to retain their nutritional value. LIfesource Bits help promote a healthy oxidative balance and improve the immune system.
This formula is grain-free, and it does not contain corn, soy or wheat. It also does not contain preservatives or artificial colors and flavors.
First five ingredients:
- Deboned Chicken
- Chicken meal
- Pea protein
- Tapioca starch
6. Whole Earth Farms Grain-Free Chicken Recipe
Fish has an irresistible aroma, and most dogs are addicted to fish recipes.
Whole Earth Farms Grain-free is a dry kibble that is prepared using salmon and whitefish as the main ingredients. In this case, salmon is the first ingredient, and whitefish is added to supplement salmon as an alternative source of proteins. The crude protein content accounts for 26% of this dry kibble.
The crude fiber content accounts for 3.5% of this kibble, and it is obtained from potatoes, pea, sweet potatoes, and apples. The blueberries are rich in antioxidants, which promote immune system health. It also contains vitamins and minerals which help in improving the overall health of your dog.
There is no corn, soy or wheat in this formula, and it is ideal for dogs with food sensitivities due to food allergies. This Whole Earth Farms dry dog food is made in the United States.
First five ingredients:
- Salmon meal
- Chicken peas
- Chicken meal.
- Others are chicken fat, salmon, whitefish, etc.
7. Nutro Wholesome Essentials Weight Management
Nutro Wholesome Essentials natural is a dry dog food that is prepared with farm-raised chicken as the first ingredient. Other key ingredients are brown rice and sweet potatoes.
All the ingredients are sourced from farmers in North America and Eastern Europe, and the formula cooked in the company’s pet food kitchens in the United States.
This formula is tailored for small breed’s unique nutritional requirements. It has smaller kibble that small dogs can chew and enjoy the delicious kibble bites. This diet has no fillers, and it is has added vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutrients.
Nutro Wholesome Essentials dog food is also rich in dietary fiber which helps your dog feel full. The crude fiber content accounts for a massive 11.50%, making it one of the best high fiber dog foods available. The fiber is sourced from whole brown rice, rice bran, lentils, barley, and dried beet pulp. Fiber also helps in weight management in small breeds.
This formula does not contain fillers such as corn, wheat, and soy, or additives such as artificial flavors and preservatives.
First five ingredients:
- Chicken meal
- Split Peas
- Whole Brown Rice
- Brewer's Rice
8. Wellness Core Rawrev Natural Grain-Free
Wellness Core Rawrev natural provides a way to introduce raw kibbles into your dog’s food bowl easily.
This formula is prepared with turkey and chicken as the main ingredients. Freeze-dried raw turkey bites are added to the formula to make it even more appetizing to dogs that crave poultry meat, and this also adds to the protein content of this dog food.
This formula does not need to be rehydrated, as is the case with other freeze-dried dog foods. The freeze-dried raw turkey bites are added to the dry kibble, and they are ready for instant serving. All the ingredients are sourced from organic farms and prepared in the company’s United States pet food kitchens.
Wellness Core RawRev is high in dietary fiber. Fiber accounts for a whopping 8.5% of the dry kibble. The fiber-rich ingredients in this formula include potatoes, pea fiber, Spinach, Broccoli, carrots, and parsley.
This formula is grain-free, and it does not contain corn, wheat or soy. Also, there are no preservatives, artificial colors or flavors.
First five ingredients:
- De-boned turkey
- Turkey meal
- Chicken meal
Complications from Anal Gland Problems in Dogs
Anal gland problems occur when the glands are not excreted either naturally or manually, thereby filling up and causing discomfort in your dog.
They can also occur when the dog is passing soft stool (after several days of diarrhea), and the pressure is insufficient to empty the anal sacs. If the glands are not emptied soon enough, the following two problems may occur:
Anal Gland Impaction
Impaction is a common condition in dogs, and it occurs when the glands are not properly expressed.
The gland will thicken and become swollen and distended, thus causing irritation. The fluids within the anal sacs serve as a potential medium for bacterial grown, leading to inflammation.
The bacteria build-up can cause fever and abscesses and requires urgent veterinary treatment. The dog will also experience pain when passing stool.
Anal Gland Abscesses
An anal gland abscess occurs when the impacted anal glands become swollen and infected with bacteria, making the impaction to grow into an abscess.
This stage is the most painful of the anal gland disease, and the dog may scoot across the ground as a way of relieving the irritation in its anus. It may also bite and lick its behinds as a way of dealing with the discomfort. If not treated early enough, the abscess will rupture, leaving an oozing red hole next to the anus.
If you suspect that your dog is having anal gland problems, get them checked by your vet to prevent it from escalating to this level. It would be sad to see your favorite furry friend in pain due to a problem that would have otherwise been addressed.
Why Do Dogs Need Their Anal Glands Expressed?
The contents of the anal glands are emptied every time your dog has a bowel movement. If your dog has not pooped for several days, they are at risk of developing anal gland problems.
When the anal glands are not released frequently, they may get blocked and your dog will develop issues.
If your dog is showing signs of anal gland problems, the glands need to be manually expressed. Most professional dog groomers include anal gland expression as one of their services.
You can also have your veterinarian do the anal gland expression. Remember to talk to your vet about the cause of the problem, and how the problem can be addressed to prevent re-occurrence.
If your dog is healthy and does the anal gland expression on his own, there is no need to manually express them. Usually, doing manual excretion regularly may weaken the dog’s anal gland muscles and he will lose the ability to self-express his anal glands.
How Anal Gland Expression Works
Most dogs have the ability to empty their anal glands naturally, as long as they are in good health.
The anal glands are spontaneously emptied when the dog is passing firm stool. Usually, the poop exerts pressure on anal sacs, forcing it to produce the internal fluids. When this happens, there will be a sudden change in his odor.
The gland secretions have a strong unpleasant scent that is also used to lubricate the anal opening, making it is easier to pass stools.
How Dog Owners Can Help Dogs with Anal Gland Problems
If your dog is scooting against the ground and licking the base of their tail, it is certain that something is wrong.
There is a high chance he may be having problems with the anal glands. As a dog parent, there are several courses of action you can take to help alleviate the problem your dog is having.
Switch To A High Fiber Dog Food
If your dog has not pooped or is passing soft stool, it could be because of the diet you are giving him.
Switching to high fiber dog food can help make the stool firm, and increase the number of trips to the bathroom.
A high fiber diet also helps make the stool bulky, in a way that it exerts the required pressure to the walls of the rectum where anal glands are located to enable excretion of the gland’s juices.
Check For Allergenic Ingredients
Are food allergies the main cause of your dogs' anal gland problems?
If your dogs current diet contains specific elements that your dog is allergic to, they may experience digestive issues that will lead to cases of diarrhea or delayed pooping.
For example, if the allergic reactions cause your dog to have diarrhea, they will pass loose/soft stools that are not enough to exert pressure on the anal glands.
Talk to your vet about possible allergic elements in dog food in order to identify and solve the root cause of the anal gland issues.
Consider Fiber Supplements If The Main Diet Is Lacking Fiber
Check if your dog’s main diet contains enough dietary fiber to help in digestion as well as making the stool firm.
If the main diet is not functional, consider adding fiber supplements to your dog’s feeding routine. Examples of good fiber supplements include canned pumpkin and psyllium husk powder.
Get Your Dog Examined By A Vet
If a change in diet to a high fiber dog food in an attempt to resolve anal gland problems is not enough, you should visit your vet’s clinic to have your dog examined.
Vet visits should be a routine, the same way you visit your personal doctor for a routine check-up. If your vet finds that the anal sac issues still persist, they may recommend a solution depending on the disease stage.
If the problem is at the initial stage, they may recommend a specific high-fiber diet that will trigger firm bowel movements to help with anal gland excretion.
For advanced stages, your vet may manually express the anal glands to remove the built-up fluids.
They may also recommend surgery, where the dog is put under anesthesia, and a surgical operation is performed on the swollen glands to remove the fluids, clean the wound and disinfect it to prevent further infections.
FAQs About High Fiber Dog Food for Anal Gland Problems
What is a good high fiber dog food?
Our top pick for the best high fiber dog food-anal gland problems is
Instinct Raw Boost Healthy Weight Grain-Free dry dog food.
The crude fiber content in this formula is 7%, and the fiber is obtained from pumpkin seeds, pea fiber, and cranberries. It also contains probiotics to help in digestion.
What causes anal gland problems in dogs?
Anal gland problems occur when the dog has infrequent bowel movements. The problem can also occur due to constipation or diarrhea, which makes poop insufficient or too soft to exert pressure to the anal glands.
How can I add more fiber to my dog diet?
If your dog is not getting enough fibers, you can provide him with a fiber-rich homemade meal that can be added to the dog’s regular diet or served solely.
Examples of excellent sources of fiber include apples, fresh green beans, green vegetables, beet pulp, banana, pumpkin, etc.
How do I know if my dog needs his glands expressed?
A dog with anal gland problems will often act differently from their usual behavior.
Dogs can exhibit the following signs and symptoms of anal gland issues: scooting their bottom against the ground, licking their rear frequently, pungent smell from their bottom, pain when pooping, yellowish/whitish discharge, etc.
What is the best source of fiber for dogs?
The following foods are the best sources of fiber for dogs i.e. carrots, broccoli, pumpkin, apples, kale, spinach, cranberries, milled flaxseed, etc.
Can dogs express their own glands?
If your dog’s glands are not working, it will be impossible for them to self-express their anal glands.
As a solution, you need to have the glands expressed by a professional groomer or veterinarian to remove the build-up fluids.
For advanced cases, your doctor may recommend surgery to remove the fluids and cleanse the area to prevent infections.