12 Food to Help Dogs Express Glands [Do it Right!]

Zack Keithy, our author, is a certified veterinarian technician (UC Blue Ash) for over 6 years (contact him here). The articles written here are based on his expertise and experience, combined with a review by our expert vet reviewers including Dr M. Tarantino. Learn more about us here.

We all want our furry companions to be happy and healthy, right? 

Unfortunately, our beloved pups sometimes suffer from uncomfortable and painful anal gland problems.

I know it’s not a pleasant topic, but it’s one that many pet parents don’t know a lot about. 

Several factors can contribute to dog gland problems, from diet to breed and age, and in this post, I want to share with you the best food to help dogs express glands followed by a bunch of useful information that can help you navigate around this issue.

So, let’s dive in and ensure our furry pals feel their absolute best!

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Dear Dog Owner

List of the 12 Best Food to Help Dogs Express Glands

List of the 12 Best Food to Help Dogs Express Glands

If you’re a loving pet owner, you know how essential it is to keep your furry friend healthy. 

But, gland problems can be common for dogs, leading to discomfort and sometimes even infections. 

The good news is there are many types of food that can help your pup express their glands naturally and keep them feeling their best.

To simplify things, I’ve compiled a list of the best foods to help your dog with gland problems. 

So, let’s take a look and give your pup the relief they so deserve.

1. Pumpkin

Pumpkin is excellent for dog glands as it’s a rich source of fiber and antioxidants, helping to decrease inflammation and support the digestive system.

You can give your dog pumpkin in the form of pumpkin puree or by feeding them cooked ones. Add 1-4 tablespoons per meal to your dog’s diet for a great flavor enhancer!

2. Oatmeal

Oatmeal is a gentle and calming food that is high in fiber and can also help reduce inflammation.

You can buy oatmeal and add it to your dog’s regular food or mix it with water and feed them the mixture. Add 1-2 cups twice a day, depending on weight.

3. Sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes are loaded with fiber and antioxidants, and again, they can help decrease inflammation and assist in cleansing the digestive tract.

You can give your dog sweet potatoes in the form of canned sweet potatoes or by feeding them cooked sweet potatoes. Add 1 teaspoon for small breeds and 1 tablespoon for larger breeds.

4. Green beans

Green beans are high in fiber and they can help cleanse the digestive tract – soothing and reducing inflammation.

You can give your dog green beans in the form of canned or cooked green beans. Not sure how much? Use 1 teaspoon for small breeds and one tablespoon for larger breeds, or watch the video above for a great recipe.

5. Brown rice

Brown rice is another fiber-rich food that can help reduce inflammation and support digestion.

You can give your dog cooked brown rice, but remember not to feed a large dog no more than a quarter cup and a smaller dog just a tablespoon or two.

6. Apples

Apples are a gentle food that is high in fiber content and also helps cleanse the digestive tract and reduce inflammation.

You can give your fur baby raw or cooked apples, around 1-3 slices.

7. Wheat germ 

Wheat germ is a nutrient-rich part of the wheat kernel that can provide dogs with numerous health benefits such as vitamin E, fiber, and essential fatty acids that can improve their skin and coat health, support their immune system, and aid in digestion.

Talk about a superfood for dogs!

You can give your dog cooked wheat germ by adding one tablespoon to every pound of food.

8. Lentils

Lentils are an excellent source of plant-based protein and fiber that can offer lots of benefits for your dog.

Not only are they low-fat and low in calories, but it also helps promote digestive health.

On top of that, lentils also provide essential nutrients such as iron, magnesium, and folate.

You can give your dog 1 tablespoon of cooked lentils once or twice a week.

9. Flaxseed

I suppose this is not so commonly given to dogs, but flaxseed is actually a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and lignans, making it a beneficial addition to a dog’s diet.

While it’s good for digestion, it also has anti-inflammatory properties and may help protect against certain cancers.

10. Rice bran

Rice bran is a fiber-rich food that can help decrease inflammation and support digestive health. Feed 1 or 2 tablespoons for small dogs and about a quarter cup for large dogs.

11. Broccoli

broccoli can help your dog with anal glands problems

Broccoli is high in fiber and antioxidants that can help decrease inflammation and support skin health in dogs with allergies.

You can give your dog cooked or raw broccoli, around 1-6 pieces depending on weight.

12. Carrots

Carrots are a great fiber source that contains antioxidants that can lessen inflammation and support digestive and skin health in dogs with allergies.

You can give your pup raw or cooked carrots. A medium-sized dog can safely eat 2-3 baby carrots a day.

Causes of Gland Issues in Dogs

Have you noticed your pup scooting across the floor or constantly licking its backside lately? 

I know it’s not the prettiest sight, but it could be a sign that they’re dealing with serious discomfort from their anal glands. 

Trust me, it’s essential to have a solid understanding of the root of the problem so you can address it properly. 

And yes, there’s an easy fix! 

Before we get into the details, let’s understand what’s causing your pup to have gland issues. 

Genetics and breed predispositions

Genetics plays a significant role, as certain breeds are more prone to gland issues than others.

All of these characteristics—anatomy, genetics, body shape— are determined by their DNA.

For instance, small breeds like Chihuahuas and Shih Tzus are smaller and deeper within their bodies.

As a result, these glands may not empty properly, leading to blockages and discomfort.

Similarly, breeds like Basset Hounds and Bulldogs have a higher likelihood of gland problems due to their unique body shape.

These dogs have a heavier, more compact body structure which puts pressure on the anal area, making it harder for the glands to empty properly. 

If left untreated, it can cause blockages and other issues, leading to discomfort and infection.

Diet and nutrition

It’s no secret that what we feed our furry friends can significantly impact their overall well-being, including their gland health. 

You see, diet and nutrition play a critical role in the cause of dog gland issues. 

Specifically, a lack of fiber in your dog’s diet can lead to anal gland problems.

It is especially true for dogs that eat high-carb kibble and low-fiber canned meat. 

When your dog doesn’t get enough fiber, it can upset its digestive system and cause leakage from the glands around the anus area.

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Sedentary lifestyle and lack of exercise

If your dog seems lethargic, it may be because it gets too little exercise.

And why is that important? Dogs need exercise to keep their bodies in good shape!

Your dog’s anal glands are responsible for secreting an oily substance that helps them pass stool more easily. 

But if your dog isn’t regularly emptying these glands, they can become impacted or infected, causing pain, discomfort, and foul odors to emanate from the anus.

Many health issues start with a lack of physical activity, and this is true for both people and dogs. This is a timely reminder to get outside more often!

Other health issues such as infections or allergies

If your furry friend is licking or scooting their behind, it could be an indication of an anal gland infection.

These infections are caused by excessive licking or scooting and are often bacterial or yeast-based.

Allergies can also cause similar symptoms, and these are mostly triggered by food, environmental factors, or flea bites that can cause itching, redness, and swelling.

So if your pet is scratching excessively in one area, you should see your vet immediately. Alternatively, you may want to consult with an online vet first since this can save you the hassle and a few coins!

Symptoms of Glands Issues in Dogs

Dogs have two anal glands on each side of their anus that store a “scent marker.” 

When they walk by another dog’s territory, they leave behind this scent marker to mark it as theirs.

And when your dog sits down to do their business, the glands help them eliminate waste by squeezing out some fluid that lubricates its stool so it slides out smoothly.

But what happens if they have gland issues? It’s likely they’re gonna show some of the following symptoms:

Scooting or dragging of the hindquarters

Scooting, dragging, or rubbing of the hindquarters is a behavior in dogs that often indicates an issue with their anus region. 

It is a way for your pup to find relief when they are experiencing soreness or irritation in their rectal area, just like how we scratch an itch.

When your dog drags their bottom along the floor while seated, it is its way of saying that something isn’t right with its butt. 

Licking or chewing at the anus

Dogs are pretty capable of taking care of themselves, including grooming.

They use their mouths and tongues to do so, including their anal region, and in fact, occasionally licking their anal openings is a normal grooming process for dogs.

However, frequent and aggressive licking or chewing of their butt could indicate a health issue. 

It can signify something more serious, so watch your dog’s behavior and contact your vet if you notice something unusual in their routine.

Foul odor coming from the rear end

Dogs have another way of expressing their anal sacs: when they’re scared. This is perfectly normal, but it can produce a distinct foul smell that is often unpleasant.

However, the most common cause of a foul smell from your pup is problems with their anal sacs, and stopping it will depend on the root cause of the issue. 

If you’re unsure what smell your dog produces, take them to your vet for an exam.

Your vet will be able to tell if any medical issues are causing your dog’s anal sacs to smell and advise how to fix it.

Redness or swelling around the anus

Notice redness or swelling around your dog’s anus?

This could be a telltale sign that your dog has an infection in their anal glands which can cause many uncomfortable symptoms.

It may also make sitting or walking difficult, and when it worsens, an abscess may appear, causing discoloration around the sphincter.

Abscesses are pockets of pus your dog’s immune system creates when it tries to fight an infection, leading to visible swelling and redness around the anus, and your dog may be in significant pain. 

Eventually, the abscess may burst, which can cause a discharge of pus and blood.

How Do Dogs Naturally Empty Their Glands?

Dogs naturally empty their anal glands by defecating. Here’s how it works:

The anal sac’s location is near the anus. When your dog has a bowel movement, the muscles contract to expel the waste and any anal gland contents.

It also empties when your dog passes gas. The defecation and flatulence process helps open the anal gland by pushing out any contents that may have built up inside.

Additionally, it will also empty their anal glands in response to stress or excitement, which can lead to excessive squatting.

Why Are My Dog’s Glands Not Emptying?

Did you know that poor gastrointestinal health is the most common cause of anal gland problems?

Small, soft, or loose stool can make it difficult for the glands to empty properly.

Also, anal sac disease is a common issue among dogs. 

When the sacs become impacted or plugged, it can cause inflammation of the ducts and thicken the secretion within the sacs, causing swelling and distension, and making it painful for your pet to pass motion.

What Can I Feed My Dog to Help Express Glands Naturally?

In addition to what I mentioned above, you can also feed your dog the following foods to help them express their glands naturally.

  • Bananas contain potassium, which helps regulate blood pressure and reduce the effects of stress on your dog. It is also rich in vitamin B6, vital for your dog’s metabolism and nervous system.
  • Strawberries and Blueberries are high in vitamin C, helping your dog fight colds and infections. Its fiber can help with digestion and prevent constipation.
  • Beets/Beet Pulp is rich in iron, which helps your dog’s red blood cells carry oxygen throughout its body. This root vegetable contains a good amount of fiber too.
  • Kelp contains iodine, which helps your dog’s thyroid gland produce hormones.
  • Coconut oil provides fat and energy. It can help your dog feel full while on a diet. 
  • Yogurt is a good source of calcium, protein, and probiotics, which can promote healthy digestion and support the immune system.
  • Kiwi contains vitamin C, which can help your dog stay healthy and prevent infections.

Depending on your dog’s health and lifestyle needs, some are better than others. A good diet for your canine friend contains lots of protein, healthy fats, and fiber.

How Does Fiber Help With Anal Glands?

Fiber can help with anal glands in two main ways:

  • Promoting Regular Bowel Movements: When your pet has difficulty passing stools, the anal glands may not empty properly, leading to impaction, infection, or inflammation. A high-fiber diet can help regulate bowel movements and promote more regular stool production, which can, in turn, help prevent anal gland problems.
  • Firming Up Stool Consistency: Soft or loose stools are more likely to leave residue in the anal area, irritating the anal glands and contributing to developing anal gland problems. Adding fiber to the diet can help produce firmer stools and is less likely to cause irritation or inflammation in the anal gland region.

While fiber can promote healthy anal glands, it is not a cure-all solution.

What Are the Best Supplements for a Dog With Anal Gland Issues?

What are the best supplements for dogs with anal glands problems?

Now that you are familiar with all the foods that will help improve your dog’s anal gland problems, let’s take a closer look at supplements that can also do a great job.

Below are the most recommended and best supplements for a dog with anal gland issues:

Omega-3 fatty acids

You have probably read about me mentioning Omega-3 fatty acid quite a number of times in this article, and for good reason!

It’s great for reducing inflammation in the body, which in turn, alleviates discomfort associated with anal sac disease.

Also, omega-3s promote healthy blood flow, essential for maintaining healthy skin and coat.

Omega Bites Soft Chews

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Chewable supplements with Omega fatty acids, vitamins, and nutrients for dogs.
Features AlaskOmega, derived from Wild Alaskan Pollock, for a clean and pure source of omegas (with EPA and DHA).
Contains Fish Oil, Biotin, Vitamin C and E for healthy skin and a soft, shiny coat.
Supports joint, heart, and immune system health for overall wellness.
Grain-free and promotes hip and joint health, immune system function, and cardiovascular activity.

Probiotics and prebiotics

Probiotics and prebiotics promote a healthy immune system by preventing bacterial infections, diarrhea, and other gastrointestinal problems. 

As you might also know, they aid in healthy digestion and prevents undigested food accumulations in the colon.

You can find it in yogurt, kefir, and kombucha tea, but they most effective way is probably through supplemental chews like this one.

Probiotic Bites Soft Chews

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Soft chew supplements with pumpkin, papaya, and probiotics for digestion, bowel, and immune support.
Contains clinically studied DE111 probiotic and six-strain probiotic powder blend for gut function and immune system support.
Helps with occasional gastric distress, constipation, indigestion, gas, and bloating.
Supports microflora for digestive tract health and immune response.
Tasty immunity support for small, medium, and large breed dogs.

Bone broth and collagen supplements

Bone broth and collagen supplements offer several benefits for dogs as they are rich sources of protein, amino acids, and minerals that can help improve joint health, support digestion, and promote healthy skin and coat.

Not just that, but collagen supplements can also improve bone density and promote healthy aging.

I also love that the gelatin in bone broth can help soothe my dog’s gut and aid in nutrient absorption.

Multi Collagen Soft Chews

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Multi-Collagen Bites provide hip, joint, cartilage, skin, and antioxidant support for dogs.
Contains Balanced Kollagen, a premium eggshell membrane for healthy joints and connective tissues.
Dual collagen support with bovine and fish-derived peptides for structural integrity of joints and connective tissues.
Supports hip and joint function, cartilage, and mobility with collagen peptides and Hyaluronic Acid.
Promotes skin health with Vitamin C, Hyaluronic Acid, and Cod Liver Oil.

Foods to Avoid or Limit to Prevent Gland Issues in Dogs

Our dogs love to eat pretty much everything, and unfortunately, they don’t know better in most cases.

The thing is, some of us humans don’t too, and we inadvertently cause problems for our dogs by making the wrong food choices.

Keeping your dog’s diet clean and simple prevents this from happening, and I would also advise avoiding or limiting certain foods, such as:

  • High-fat foods: Foods high in fat can contribute to digestive issues and soft stools, making it more difficult for the anal glands to empty properly.
  • Dairy products: Dairy products can be difficult for dogs to digest and may contribute to digestive issues.
  • Processed foods: Many processed pet foods contain additives and preservatives that can cause harm to your dog such as kidney failure!
  • Table scraps: Giving your dog table scraps breeds bad table manners and may cause them to not want to eat their regular food. Also, most human foods are not suitable for dogs.
  • Grains: Whole grains are not necessarily harmful to dogs, but some dogs may have trouble digesting them, contributing to digestive and gland problems.

How Else to Help My Dog Express Their Anal Glands Naturally?

Exercise your dogExcess weight can contribute to anal gland impactions, so put your dog on a reduced diet if they are overweight.
Add probiotics to the dietProbiotics can help promote healthy digestion and firm stools, which can assist with natural gland expression.
Give your dog high-fiber treatsHigh-fiber chew treats like Glandex can be a tasty way to increase your dog’s fiber intake.
Encourage regular bowel movementsMake sure your dog has a consistent and healthy poop schedule.
Add a fiber supplementYou can also add a fiber supplement like psyllium to your dog’s diet.
Feed a raw dietA raw diet that includes bone content can lead to firmer poops that help with natural gland expression.
Add moistureAdding moisture to your dog’s diet can encourage regular bowel movements and manageable anal sac fluids.
Apply a warm compressIf your dog has an anal gland impaction, you can apply a warm compress under the tail to soothe the area and open up the ducts.
Put your dog on a dietExcess weight can contribute to anal gland impactions, so put your dog on a reducing diet if they are overweight.
Increase fiber in their dietFeed your dog a high-fiber diet to promote healthy digestion and prevent gland impaction.

Note: These tips can be implemented in any order, but some may be more effective than others depending on your dog’s individual needs and circumstances. It’s best to consult with your veterinarian to determine the most appropriate course of action for your furry friend.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How long can a dog go without expressing glands?

Dogs can typically go without expressing their anal glands for about a month, but it depends on your dog’s needs. If they are showing signs of discomfort, you will need to have them expressed manually.

Can I use coconut oil to express dog glands?

Dogs with anal sac problems can benefit from coconut oil. It can help lubricate the intestines and act as a stool softener. 

Does rice harden stool in dogs?

Yes, rice can help harden stool in dogs due to its fiber content. It helps bulk up the stool and make it more formed.

Do carrots firm up dog poop?

Carrots can help firm up a dog’s poop due to the insoluble fiber they contain. Insoluble fiber adds bulk and mass to stools, helping to shape them. It moistens hard, impacted feces by binding water in the gut.

Do bananas harden dog stools?

Bananas are a rich source of fiber and can help regulate bowel movements. Giving too many can lead to loose stools or diarrhea, so feeding them in moderation is essential.

Which dogs need high-fiber foods?

Dogs with weight problems, constipation, diarrhea, and diabetes may benefit from high-fiber diets. Senior dogs and certain breeds with short, flat faces, like Bulldogs and Boston Terriers. Also, breeds that need to maintain weight, like Labradors.

In Conclusion: Best Food to Help Dogs Express Glands

While I’ve tried my best to show you some of the best food options to help your dog express their anal glands, you must remember that a dog’s diet is only one part of the puzzle.

Other factors like exercise, mental stimulation, and the bond between you and your dog can also contribute significantly to their overall quality of life!

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Zack Keithy
Zack Keithy

Hey, I'm Zack, the Chief Editor here. I was formerly a Certified Veterinary Technician (CVT) for a good 6 years before moving on to greener pastures. Right now, I am still heavily involved in dog parenting duties, and it is my desire to share all our knowledge with fellow dog owners out there! Connect with me on LinkedIn, or read more about Canine Care Central!

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