Anal Gland Issues

Everyones favourite topic ;D

I have a 5yo Bichon Frise bitch, and a 4yo Chihuahua cross dog. Both in good general health, both neutered.

Previously, both dogs had been on Burns Original, and doing OK. The Bichon was having issues with tear staining. I clean her eyes regularly, I even changed her bowl, and looked in to her diet after realising Burns had a lot of cereals in. We looked for a grain free food, and opted for Eden.

They have been on it for 7 months now. The chi has always had some anal gland issues, but now both dogs are having problems. Rocky’s have been pretty full, and difficult to express and Poppy has never had issues, but has been chewing at her paws, and back end, along with the typical anal gland smell. NICE! After having them expressed, it was recommended that we change them to Fibre Response; one of Royal Canin’s vast array of prescription diets. From a veterinary point of view, I appreciate that they have a wide range, suitable for almost every ailment that can be associated/managed with an appropriate diet. BUT I dont want to jump the gun, because I know its full of added extras that Id rather they didnt have, Id rather explore our options first. Apart from their AGs, they have done great on Eden. Nice weights, great coats, tear staining has improved too.

Im just wondering what people could suggest? Has anyone had a similar issue? Id rather not change if I can avoid it. It seems to be the best food I can get, short of changing to RAW. Im wondering if I can supplement with whole foods, to bulk things up. Ive asked vets, nurses and other experienced owners, but I get different answers from everyone: Add some raw chicken wings a few times a week, add some oats, add some veg… Its hard to know what to do!

I thought it would be a lack of fibre, but Eden has more fibre in that Burns. Unless its indigestible fibre, but how else can I add this without feeding cereals? Could it be the higher protein? …I hate nutrition, as a student VN, we’re taught a certain way, but in reality its swings and roundabouts!

Hello and welcome to the forum. We have someone from Eden (David) on the forum and I feel sure that he will come along and give you some advice. Instinctively I feel that it would be a shame to change your dogs onto another food when they are doing so well on Eden. I have read that extra fibre is good for anal gland problems. I would have thought that a nice firm poo is best because it should compress (squeeze) the anal glands as it passes through the last part of the colon.

My own experience is that some dogs have a tendency (or need) to have their anal glands emptied from time to time and some don’t. I had an elderly rescue dog and had to take her to the vet about every couple of months - tried different diets but it made no difference. I’ve come to the conclusion that it might not always be down to diet. I’ve heard that once they have had them done then there is a greater chance of them needing it to be repeated but I don’t know if that is an old wives tale.

Regarding a raw diet and anal glands, it would be good to hear from some raw feeders. I recently had to take my eldest dog to the vet for emptying of anal glands and that is the first time she has needed to have them done (she is coming up to 13 years old). Interestingly, prior to this she had been on a raw diet, and still is. Her poos are typical of a raw fed dog i.e. very small and firm. When she was on kibble they were much more bulky but still firm and easy to pick up with no residue.

I took my dog to have hers checked shortly after rehoming her. I had noticed her being smelly a couple of times. The vet said they were not too bad and that stress may have been causing her to express them. We haven’t had any problems since. She is mostly fed a raw complete with some chicken wings. Her stools are always nice and firm so hopefully they are keeping her glands healthy. Before raw she was on cold pressed food and although her stools were bigger, they were still firm. I did notice that she had softer larger stools on natures menu nuggets, however so raw foods may vary.


Can I ask, are the stools firm or soft? Usually firm stools will naturally express the anal glands on a daily basis and this is usually what helps keep them trouble free.

If the stools are soft then cutting the food back by 5-10% is usually all that is needed to resolve matters.

It may be worth you phoning the office 9-5 Mon - Fri so they can talk through the issue in more detail.

Im certain we can help get things sorted quite quickly with just a few little tweaks

They’re firm enough that they don’t generally leave any residue when I pick them up.

Poop Points may be helpful. Sounds like your dog’s is 2.

Deffinitley 2-3.

I dont think there is usually anything wrong with their poo, to be honest. Id have thought, if it were the food causing the problem, their ‘poo points’ would score more on the high side?

I would say 2-3 is “normal”, 4 is becoming too soft.

with the firmness of 2-3 the glands should be self-emptying, the stools press on the glands every time they go and should naturally empty them.

In some dogs the glands can be in a less then ideal position and no matter what, the stools will never press on them, though the fact that its both of them and one was OK before would tend to rule that out for one of them.

if you think a little extra fibre would help, then you could try butternut squash or pumpkin puree, this helps regulate against diarrhoea and constipation as the fibre absorbs moisture from the wet stools if runny, or holds a little back from being absorbed if too firm.

other than that it would be best for you to contact the office by phone and maybe speak to the nutritionist so he can look into things in more detail with you.

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A number of people, over the years, have said that chicken wings help with the problem and although it may just be an old wives tale can say that Arnie used to have problems and doesn’t since I have given him bones and wings.

It took me a long time to find a food that made him have satisfactory stools, which he does now have without the wings, but the wings do seem to make it just that bit firmer. I would say that his first poo of the day is usually between 1 and 2 he has to visibly push to start going.

Thank you, Ive been on poo patrol all week, and agree. The way their poos are, their AGs should be expressing themselves without an issue. I appreciate Rocky may just be one of those dogs with issues, God knows he has plenty of other things going on, thanks to dodgey genetics. Ill see how they go, and if things dont improve, give the office a call.

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Sorry I couldn’t give a more defininate answer at this point