Best Foods & Remedies to Help Dog Express Glands

Written by: Dr. Steve Sanderlin, Holistic Veterinarian, DVM

Question: What Are the Best Foods & Supplements for a Dog with Anal Gland Issues?

I have a small poodle mix who just turned 3. Her anal glands have become such a problem I have to take her to the vet every 3 weeks to get them expressed. The vet says that food is not an issue, but I have seen articles that say it is. What are the best foods & supplements for a dog with anal gland issues? What food or remedies should I use to help this problem? The vet mentioned surgery, but I would like to avoid that if at all possible.


Anal glands are a pair of small scent glands on either side of a dog's anus just under the tail. They contain a very strong-smelling fluid that is said to be used for marking territory. In domestic dogs these glands can become impacted, where the gland becomes too full, or abscesses involving an infection in the gland. Dogs with impacted anal glands will often "scoot" across the floor in an attempt to relieve the pressure.

Diet is often a major factor in anal gland problems, and some common sense guidelines about a healthy diet can go a long way. Basically, the fresher the food the better. Raw is best, then home-cooked, then cold-pressed, dehydrated or freeze-dried, then HIGH QUALITY canned and dry kibble. The most important thing is the quality; high quality is essential.

Adding freshly ground or lightly steamed vegetables to the diet can be helpful for anal gland problems to help bulk up the stool.

"Adding freshly ground or lightly steamed vegetables to the diet can be helpful for anal gland problems to help bulk up the stool"

Digestive enzymes and probiotics can also be helpful for reducing anal gland issues. Most holistic veterinarians recommend using digestive enzymes whenever feeding processed (dry kibble or canned) or cooked food.

In addition, I recommend an essential fatty acid supplement to support a healthy inflammation response, support the immune system and maintain the gastrointestinal system.

Lack of exercise and constipation also contribute to anal gland problems. Overweight animals are more prone to anal gland problems.

Proper exercise helps stimulate the digestive system and bowels and improves health in so many ways. Animals that are not allowed outdoors often enough tend to hold their urine and stools for too long, causing both emotional and physical stress. For those guardians who are gone to work all day with no way to return mid-day, I always recommend finding a dog-walking service or hiring a young neighbor to get their companions out of the house during the day.

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