What Food Will Firm up My Dog’s Stool and Prevent His Anal Glands from Becoming Full?

I’m Dr. Clayton Greenway with healthcareforpets.com answering questions this morning this one comes from Christa. It’s a little convoluted actually it says, ‘my dog is four years old is on a new diet because he has a chronic, probably autoimmune copper associated hepatitis diagnosed by liver biopsy a few months ago. His stools are formed but soft and now he has problems with the anal glands. What can I add to his diet to harden his stools a bit? Are the great things I hear about pure pumpkin true? Thank you for any advice.” So this is pretty interesting I mean she glosses over the first part which is quite a significant disease process. This dog is very lucky, has a fantastic owner who is gone and figured out a real significant problem in the liver with liver biopsy, that’s no small feat and I’m sure this dog is getting very well taken care of. I won’t go into that condition because the questions not about that, but it sounds like they’re on a diet and that’s one of the features to controlling some of this problem with copper associated hepatitis. That’s an inflammation of the liver and accumulation of copper that occurs inside the liver really common in Bedlington Terriers, but what she’s talking about here is the anal glands and the anal glands are two sacks that sit on either side of the anus and they produce this really smelly liquid and so basically what happens is when a poop comes out it puts pressure on these glands and it causes them to squeeze and then the material comes out through these little tubes. If the stool is soft or chronically soft, then it doesn’t put pressure on those anal glands and they will stay full. The material inside of them dries out, gets firmer and now it’s very hard for it to come out and it inflames the anal glands. They get sore and painful and typically dogs will put their bum on the ground and rub it along. Some of them won’t do this, some of them they’ll burst open, they’ll have an abscess, some of them will try to lick back there, some of them will smell at home, so those are ways to identify that there might be an anal gland problem. Bulking up the stool is certainly one way to try to deal with it. The pure pumpkin does work to do that you can get canned pumpkin and add it to the diet and it will cause a little bit of bulking of the stool. One of the things I tend to like is looking at diet options so that you’re not adding something to the diet to fix a problem. It’d be great, there might be with this diet an ingredient that your dog doesn’t do well with, totally unrelated to the hepatitis. So if there’s another diet for this condition and there are, you could try that because it may not have the same ingredient that’s causing soft stools. So I would consider switching to another diet that controls this condition, that will hopefully firm up the stools without you having to add canned pumpkin but that’s something you can do. The other thing you can do is you can certainly take your dog into the veterinarian like you have been doing in this question Christa and you can have them obviously express the anal glands. If you’re brave enough, and I think in 13 years I’ve only had one client who wanted to learn how to do it themselves and I think most of us just want to stay away from that and we’ll leave it to the veterinarian’s with nice thick gloves to go about their business with that but the thing is is that’s another option. It’s good to know how to do these things because when your dog is uncomfortable, then you can address it without having to run in and let’s face it without having to pay the expense of it too, particularly if it’s an ongoing chronic issue. But that’s where I would start because the longer these things fill up and over and over again, get irritated, inflamed, they can become even more problematic meaning that you may have to do greater procedures to control it. So you can try the canned pumpkin, I’d go back to the original diet, switch it, see what happens there, and of course talk to your veterinarian about that, get them to recommend the diet. It’s always important to take these these answers and use them in conjunction with a physical exam in consultation with your veterinarian who knows your pet best and this one sounds like it’s doing a great job for you Christa. So thanks for this question, keep them coming in because here at Healthcare for Pets we are dedicated to your pet’s health.

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3 Responses

  1. Sandra Davis says:


  2. Kristinafina says:

    I didn't know until recently that there are a couple of different ways to express anal glands. Externally and internally. I tried going the external route, but within a couple of weeks, the problem was back. I asked my vet to show me how to internally express the glands and they obliged. I was nervous the first time, but now that I did it (with an already soaped up dog in a self doggie wash) I am relieved that it is not as scary/icky/demeaning as I thought it would be. I guess it helps that my dogs are large to giant breed. Not sure I could express a Yorkie.

  3. Tequilla Sunset says:

    People who like to hear themselves talk are the worst. Most people would/should already know all the dribble you wasted time on. Not one shred of useful information and title is misleading.

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