Hello & Help Please (Anal gland issue)

Hi there. I am a huge fan of this site and, in particular, the Dog Food Directory, which I recommend to everyone (especially those who think they are feeding a good food when they are not!). However, I seem to be doing something wrong and I would really appreciate some guidance.

When I first got my Manchester terrier, she was on Royal Canin, which had been recommended by a couple of breeders. At around 5 months, I think, she started to display signs of anal gland problems so, after discovering this site and referring to the Dog Food Directory, I soon learned that RC wasn’t so great and switched her to Orijen puppy, as it seemed to have the highest fibre content of the 5* dry foods.

Everything seemed fine so I continued with Orijen, switching to the adult version at around 12 months, with a weekly raw chicken wing to help keep her teeth clean, and occasional meaty bones to gnaw on in the garden in good weather.
She continued to do well on this, always producing large firm stools. However, a part of me was drawn by the arguments for feeding raw food, so, having found a local stockist of 500g tubs of Nutriment (which is also very highly rated in the DFD), I decided to try a combination diet for a while.
Since 11 May, I have been feeding her one meal of raw (Nutriment - different flavours) and one of dry (Orijen - adult with chicken). I found her stools were a little harder and smaller after a raw feed, and a little softer, but larger after a dry feed, which seemed to be in order, and also seemed a good combination with regards to keeping her anal glands in order.
However, last Saturday, 25 June, without any prior warning, she developed an abscess on her right anal sac, which quickly ruptured. In the process of getting that under control, our vet found that the left side was also impacted and she expressed both accordingly.
When I took her back less than a week later, although the wound had healed really well, following antibiotics and regular warm Epsom salt compresses, both anal glands were badly impacted again and I am concerned about getting to the root cause as quickly as possible in order to avoid the need for regular expressing, which I understand can be counter productive, or the risk of further infection.

So, what I need to know is: Could the problem be caused by the introduction of the raw food (which seems to fly in the face of everything I’ve read on the subject) or could it be due to the combination of the raw and dry (although always fed separately) or could I be missing something else?

I am currently in two minds whether to switch to all raw (having already come this far) or to switch back to just the Orijen (on the grounds that she seemed to be fine before I added the raw).

Expert input on this would be gratefully received. Many thanks in anticipation.


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Hello and welcome to the forum,
Sadly we don’t have many members who are nutritionists or have veterinary knowledge, we are mostly just pet owners who try to find out as much as we can about ensuring we provide a healthy diet for our pets.

From what I have read, and in my own experience, it is okay to feed cold pressed food along side raw. I am not sure about Orijen. It is thought that the different rates of digestion of dry and raw may cause problems if fed in the same meal but I am not sure about alternating. It may be worth asking your vet if he feels diet may have contributed to the anal gland issues.

I can’t help wondering if some dogs are just more prone to problems with their anal glands. I would imagine that firm stools would aid expression of glands but other than that food can only do so much to help. I hope it is a temporary thing and the problems ease as it sounds painful for your poor dog.

Hi Tinyplanets & thank you for responding so quickly.
Unfortunately not many vets are really that clued up on nutrition themselves and tend to offer little advice other than to feed a high fibre diet, which I am doing. I will, however, attempt to press the issue when I go back on Friday.
Orijen is reputed to be one of the very best dry foods available and one I have read of being fed occasionally alongside a raw diet, if only to keep the dog used to eating dry should the need arise when travelling or whatever.
But maybe the 50/50 approach is where I have gone wrong (?) I remain very open to further suggestions from anyone who may have experience in this area.
I think you are right that firm is probably more important than bulky so I am going to try just raw for a while & hope to god that produces the desired effect. As you say, it is painful for her when the glands get impacted and I can’t bear to see my beautiful girl suffer, which is why I am so desperate to find the answer quickly!
I know that dogs are all different & for some diet is not the answer, but I really hope it is for mine. I certainly don’t want to consider the option of surgery just yet!
Will keep you posted. In the meantime, thanks again for taking the time to respond :slight_smile: xx

I currently happily feed Nutriment, but have also looked at other raw complete brands including wolftucker which allegedly has a differences in look & texture to Nutriment . I have not tried feeding wolftucker yet… it is manufacfured relatively locally to me & available from some local suppliers…I am likely to try some of this with our dogs at some point. If and when I do I will post up & share experielnces although what suits our dogs might not suit others.

Personallly (in line with advice received by suppliers), I would not feed both types of food (kibble and raw complete) …even if at seperate meal times…I feel it may be best if dog digestve systems works consistently. Also reducing variables in diet may allow you to better get an idea as to what, (if any) , diet factors may be working or not working for your dog.

I won’t start going into huge details re gut flora but I was told that changes to same occur when kibble feeders switch to raw.

In a recent post elsewhere I have spoken of the advice I got from one of my raw complete suppliers…that reducing bone content in some meals may assist if over hard stools are a concern… I have been introducing some beef, tripe & offal trays (but not stopping feeding trays with higher bone content). Mixing up protein sources allegedly may help reduce later specific protein source intolerances.

It is no good to you if I push particular food type, brand or even protein. Food compatability with your dog is key…however well or otherwise individual products rate or review on here.

In meantime I would ensure dog is drinking enough water, (ideally filtered). You could also add some to raw complete feeds…or perhaps increase the amount you add to kibble if you choose that route.

I too have been caused to believe that firmer stools can help push on glands causing them to empty (But you don’t want stool output so hard that it causes issues) . I should add that some claim certain ingredients can cause gland issues.

Asking here is fine but please do other research… I do not want to give wrong advice if your dog has been unwell…Impacted, damaged or infected gland issues are issues best avoided.

My vet reckons some dogs can be more vulnerable to gland issues than others…individual dogs physical gland characteristics, allegedly also a factor.

I confess that I am not a vet, not a pet food nuritionalist andam relatively new to raw complete. I am, however, doing plenty of homework including reading lots & speaking to those who are knowedgable.

It can be difficult deciding what to consider and what to disregard… Contrasting views exist - even amongst so called experts or experienced feeders of similar foods &/or food types.

Please keep us updated.

Good Luck

Hello and welcome to the forum. I can’t really add much in the way of advice to what has already been said. Some dogs are more prone to anal gland problems but it can perhaps be minimized by aiming for a diet that gives a firm but wide stool because it will compress the glands as it passes through. I have a dog who is thirteen years old and has never had anal gland problems. That all changed when I tried her on a raw diet. The poos on raw diets tend to be hard but small. I put her back onto kibble - the stool was wide but probably too soft and the problem persisted. She has been on cold pressed food since the beginning of this year and has had no further problems. The stool consistency is now firm and wide. I can’t say with 100% certainty that raw diet caused the problem and I am not saying that cold pressed food would help every dog with anal gland problems.

Many thanks Coaster & Dottie for taking the time to reply.

I have researched elsewhere (& will continue to do so) and I had read that it is ok to feed high quality dry and raw in separate meals, & many recommend this when switching from dry to raw, which is what I was aiming for. Whilst others say not to mix the two, most in that camp seem to be referring to poor quality, high cereal & additive rich kibble - not something ‘biologically appropriate’ & well balanced like Orijen.

However, as mixing clearly wasn’t right for Ripley, I am now trying the raw only approach (as I believe there are enough other benefits to justify persevering for a while before reverting back, unless anyone can give me a legitimate reason to the contrary) and I will keep you informed of her progress.

I chose Nutriment because it seems to be the best raw complete food that is available in small quantities locally - I only have one small dog & one small freezer at the moment; though there is room for another freezer in the cellar if the raw approach works out. For now I am alternating the proteins: chicken, beef, turkey, lamb, salmon, duck & venison - a different one every three days, as each tray provides 6 meals for my little girl.

To be honest, if what she passed this morning wasn’t enough to express the glands naturally, I don’t think anything will :wink:
Seriously, it was good and firm, without being dry or crumbly, and quite bulky too. If it gets too firm, I will try adding water (always filtered; we have a built in unit) or look at reducing bone content - thanks Coaster.

I have to admit, I haven’t looked into cold pressed (probably because I never really looked at anything that didn’t have a 5* rating in the directory), but as there are some that get a 4.9, I may well consider it if the problem persists - thanks Dottie.

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I note your reply…I hope some of our content may be useful - time will tell.

Regardless of food type I personally wouldn’t get overly hung up on score ratng numbers in themselves. One ingredient can push up a score. If your are looking at 4 maybe 4.5 or above you are generally in the right ballpark.

Nutriment appear to be a good company & I have only had positive dealings with them. If you speak to your supplier I am sure they will be happy to get in less commonly retail available trays…such as the offal etc. As for whether you altermate individual trays flavours each tray or change every few days is of course a matter for you - no idea if a specific routine would be considered best…I wouldnt over think matters but 3 days on a specific flavour and monitoring output may give some indication re flavour composition compatability with your dog.

Thanks again Coaster :slight_smile:

My local supplier does stock the offal/tripe flavours too, but I haven’t bought those (yet) as I feed dried tripe sticks daily as a treat & don’t want to over do the tripe!

Seriously, I have one small, approx 8kg, dog so changing flavour every tray is the same as changing every 2.5/3 days! One 500g tray provides 5 or 6 meals for my little munchkin, depending on the addition of chicken wings, treats & other bones, etc.

Tbh, Ripley is my first dog and I thought buying top quality food, rather than supermarket crap, would be enough to avoid most issues in a generally healthy dog - I never realised it would be so complicated & I am genuinely grateful for all input from more experienced owners like yourself.

I am planning to take a diploma in canine nutrition very soon (just have to get my advanced human nutrition diploma & some fairly serious shoulder surgery out the way first) & hope that will put me in a position to deal with my own problems more efficiently, and maybe help others here too, but until then…


Quick update: Took Ripley to the vet again this evening, after a week of just raw (Nutriment) and all is in order at the rear end :smiley:

So I will stick with the raw for now and, if all goes well, will look into investing in a second freezer, just for dog food.

Would just like to say thanks again to Tinyplanets, Coaster and Dottie for your kind advice and support during such a difficult time - I have to admit to being quite traumatised by it all. That little dog means the absolute world to me and I just want to do the very best for her.

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Interestingly, I have just read a post by Eden Holistic Pet Foods, under a different topic regarding raw food, which states that it is ok to feed a cereal free (low carb) dry food alongside raw, which I had definitely read elsewhere, so at least I don’t feel like such a fool for trying that :slight_smile:

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We have previously had discussions on mixing raw with kibble - (Link 1 Link 2) and came to the conclusion that there is no real evidence that this creates any problem for the dog. It seems that not mixing raw with kibble is one of those things that is passed down by word of mouth, probably by confirmed raw feeders but does not have much basis in fact. Having said that, I have a feeling that cold pressed food would probably be a good adjunct to raw feeding, rather than extruded food, if only for digestive reasons (check out YouTube ‘cold pressed dog food’ for video).


Thanks for the links Dottie - really helpful :slight_smile:

I’ve stopped beating myself up now but will definitely look at cold pressed rather than extruded for occasions when feeding a dry food is more appropriate for whatever reason, and I won’t throw out my Buster food maze just yet :slight_smile:

So glad I came here for help! Thanks again x

I wasn’t aware that prior widespread advice not to feed kibble & raw together had since been widely disputed.

I have physically witnessed my Lab vomit whole kibble several hours after feeding it…I accept this event doesn’t relate to digestive duration conflict between raw & kibble.

Today I have read a recent study on another site that indicates comparative digestion times, (in the one dog tested), were closer than anticipated…In fact the kibble was processed slightly quicker than the raw.

Thanks for opening my mind to this Dottie…the associated discussion on here may have been missed by me &/or maybe took place before I joined these forums.

Apologies if I have misled or incorrect advice.

I think the beauty of a good forum is that it allows helpful discussion, welcomes different opinions and encourages all concerned to do more research. Tbh, I thought I was pretty clued up on dog food, but have definitely learned a lot in the past week or so.

If anyone else has gained new insight as a result of my question, I have to say that I am delighted.

Long may we share what we learn and support each other along the way. I have seen some other forums where people (like myself) trying to do the right thing get shot down in (not necessarily well informed) flames. So glad that didn’t happen here.

Coaster, please know that a lot of your input was helpful to me :slight_smile:


I think its the raw food. It could be the bones from the chicken wings you are feeding that punctured her behind.

Or high calcium intake from those bones leading to constipation.

Hi Matthew,

She most definitely wasn’t constipated (she had already passed 2/3 normal stools that day) and I’m quite certain nothing punctured her behind. Her anal sacs were impacted and one had become infected, which led to an abscess forming, which she ruptured by scooting.

Since switching to all raw about a week after it happened, everything seems to be back to normal, so it may have been connected to the transition from mostly kibble to half kibble, half raw, or it may have just been coincidence that it occurred during that time.

She has been fed weekly raw chicken wings and occasional meaty bones since she was a pup and has never once been constipated. Although the addition of bones does make her stools firmer, that’s a good thing from the point of view of emptying the anal sacs.


Another quick update: have continued with the Nutriment (& occasional chicken wings for teeth) and also invested in a small bag of Gentle cold pressed (based on Dottie’s advice) for times when dry is more appropriate. Most days are all raw now, but sometimes one of each, and we’re just back from follow up vet check and Ripley’s bum is officially perfect!! :slight_smile:

Just want to say thanks again for all the great advice & support.

That is really good news. Thanks for the update and I hope she remains problem free.

Thank you for getting back to us. It is really good news that the anal gland problem has resolved just with a little dietary adjustment. Well done for sorting this out.