7 Foods to Help Dogs Express Anal Glands Naturally

Pitbull dog sniffing an apple to eat for a high fiber diet for anal glands

Are you concerned that your dog's dry food isn't supporting their gut health or that your dog’s food is causing anal gland issues? If your pet requires vet visits for manual anal gland expressions, it might be time to rethink their diet. Incorporating the right foods or supplements can help dogs express their glands naturally, offering an effective and cost-efficient alternative to frequent vet visits.

In this article, we'll explore the top ingredients and foods that support dog anal gland health, identify which dogs may need additional help, and explain the crucial role of fiber in your pet's diet. Learning how foods can help your dog express their anal glands naturally can help to alleviate their pain and discomfort.

Introduction to anal gland issues in dogs

Anal gland issues are common in dogs, causing discomfort and requiring attention. These glands, located on either side of the rectum, produce a unique scent used for marking territory. Normally, they express naturally during bowel movements. However, factors like poor diet, obesity, or genetics can lead to impaction or infection, causing swelling, pain, and irritation.

Signs of anal gland problems include scooting, excessive licking of the area, and a noticeable odor. Left untreated, these issues can escalate into serious infections or abscesses, necessitating veterinary care. Understanding and addressing the root causes, including dietary adjustments, can help manage and prevent these problems, ensuring your dog remains comfortable and healthy.

How can your dog's food impact their anal glands?

Your dog’s diet plays a crucial role in maintaining their anal gland health. Foods rich in fiber help produce firm stools, which apply natural pressure to the anal glands during bowel movements, encouraging regular expression. High-fiber ingredients like pumpkin, sweet potatoes, and carrots not only support digestive health but also reduce inflammation and promote overall gut wellness.

On the other hand, low-fiber or poor-quality diets can lead to soft stools that don’t provide enough pressure to express the glands naturally. Over time, this can cause the glands to become impacted or infected, leading to discomfort and requiring veterinary intervention. By choosing the right foods, you can help your dog maintain healthy anal glands and avoid frequent trips to the vet.

7 best foods to help dogs express anal glands naturally


Diet plays a significant role in helping dogs naturally express their anal glands. Incorporating specific high-fiber foods can improve stool consistency, making it easier for the anal glands to be expressed naturally during bowel movements.

Switching dog foods, adding ingredients to their current dog food, as well as adding supplements to your dog’s diet can help to improve overall gut health as well as improve anal gland health. High-fiber formulas are the best types of dog food for anal gland issues. Fiber improves gut health, supports the gut microbiome, and can even reduce inflammation in the large intestine––including the anal glands! 

Looking for the best dog food to prevent scooting and other unpleasant signs of anal gland distress? Try foods with the following ingredients:

1. Pumpkin

Pumpkin is an excellent source of insoluble fiber, which helps keep your dog regular by adding bulk to their stools. This natural remedy not only supports anal gland health but also provides essential vitamins and antioxidants that promote overall digestive health. Pumpkin seeds can be particularly beneficial, offering a concentrated dose of fiber along with other nutrients like zinc and magnesium. Incorporating canned pumpkin, pumpkin seeds, or a supplement with pumpkin for dogs into your dog's diet can help ensure they get the necessary fiber to express their glands naturally.

2. Sweet Potato

Sweet potatoes are a powerhouse of both soluble and insoluble fibers, making them an ideal addition to your dog's diet for anal gland health. The blend of fibers helps to regulate bowel movements, firm up stools, and reduce inflammation in the gut. Rich in vitamins A, C, and B6, as well as manganese and potassium, sweet potatoes also support your dog's overall health. They can be served cooked and mashed, or included in commercial dog foods, to provide a delicious and nutritious fiber boost.

3. Apple

Apples, especially their pulp and apple pectin, are rich in soluble fiber, which is key to firming up your dog’s stools and aiding natural anal gland expression. This fruit also contains vitamins A and C, which support immune health, and polyphenols, which have antioxidant properties. When feeding apples to your dog, ensure they are cored and seeds removed to prevent any potential toxicity. Apples can be served fresh as a snack or mixed into meals, providing a refreshing and beneficial addition to your dog's diet.

4. Wheat Germ

Wheat germ, the nutrient-rich embryo of wheat kernels, is one of the highest natural sources of insoluble fiber available. This fiber helps add bulk to stools, promoting regular bowel movements and supporting anal gland health. Wheat germ also provides essential fatty acids, vitamin E, and folic acid, which contribute to your dog's overall well-being. It can be sprinkled over your dog’s food or mixed into homemade treats, making it an easy and effective way to boost their fiber intake.

5. Flaxseed

Flaxseeds are an excellent source of both soluble and insoluble fibers, making them a versatile addition to your dog's diet for supporting gut health and regular bowel movements. Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, flaxseeds also offer anti-inflammatory benefits, promoting healthy skin and coat. As grain-free dog foods become more popular, flaxseeds are an essential ingredient for maintaining fiber intake. Ground flaxseed can be mixed into your dog’s meals to help keep their digestive system in top condition.

6. Rice Bran

Rice bran, separated from the rice kernel during milling, is a high-fiber ingredient that supports healthy digestion and anal gland function. It is particularly rich in beta-glucan, a soluble fiber that slows food passage through the intestines, which can be especially beneficial for dogs with diarrhea. Additionally, rice bran contains essential nutrients like B vitamins, magnesium, and antioxidants. Incorporating rice bran into your dog's diet can help firm up stools and reduce the frequency of anal gland issues. 

7. Carrots

Carrots are a tasty and nutritious way to add fiber to your dog's diet, helping to support healthy digestion and natural anal gland expression. This crunchy vegetable is packed with both soluble and insoluble fibers, as well as beta-carotene, which is converted to vitamin A for eye health. Carrots can be served raw as a crunchy treat, steamed, or mixed into wet or dry food. Their natural sweetness and nutritional benefits make them a favorite among dogs and a valuable addition to their diet.

Woman kneeling down in a kitchen to feed her terrier dog high fiber food for anal glands

Which dogs need high-fiber foods?

Reasons for needing the best high fiber dog food–anal gland issues, diarrhea–are unique to each pet. If your dog is struggling with any of these conditions, talk to your veterinarian about finding the best option for adding fiber to their diet. 

Dogs with anal gland issues

Some dog breeds are prone to anal gland issues or regularly need to visit the vet for manual expressions––which can be painful and pricey. Because fiber helps to bulk the stool, it encourages natural emptying of the anal glands with each bowel movement. For this reason, veterinarians will often recommend fiber-rich supplements and food to help dogs express glands naturally. 

Dogs with colitis

Colitis is inflammation of the large intestine that affects the cecum, colon, rectum, and anal cavity. One of the most common signs of colitis is diarrhea, which is fast-moving stool containing water that hasn’t been absorbed by the body. For dogs with colitis, veterinarians may recommend a fasting period to ‘rest’ the intestinal tract before reintroducing high-fiber foods that will re-establish a normal speed for food to pass through the body. 

Dogs with chronic diarrhea

Causes of recurring or regular diarrhea can include colitis, stress, dietary indiscretions, and an imbalance in the gut microbiome. To help a dog with watery stools firm up their bowel movements, implement a regular high-fiber supplement or dog food for improved gut and anal gland health.

Dogs with allergies

Allergies can contribute to inflammation in the anal glands, causing swelling and irritation that makes it more difficult for anal glands to function properly. Adding dietary fiber to an allergic dog’s diet can help relieve inflammation thanks to a transformation that happens in the large intestine when food passes through. Natural fermentation in the colon turns fiber into short-chain fatty acids, which have anti-inflammatory effects on the gut and the body.

How does fiber help with anal glands?

When it comes to the best dog food for anal gland issues, it’s clear high-fiber options are preferred. Fiber promotes better overall gut health, which supports healthy anal gland function––and can help put a stop to your dog’s scooting! 

Let’s recap the big benefits of adding boosting fiber in a dog’s diet: 

  • Fiber bulks and firms the stool for more productive bowel movements
  • Fiber feeds good bacteria in the gut 
  • Fiber creates short-chain fatty acids in the large intestine
  • Fiber reduces inflammation in the body with short-chain fatty acids

How supplements can help dogs express their anal glands naturally

Supplements can play a vital role in supporting your dog’s anal gland health by providing concentrated doses of fiber, probiotics, and anti-inflammatory ingredients. Fiber supplements, help to firm up stools, making it easier for the anal glands to express naturally during bowel movements. These supplements can be easily mixed into your dog’s regular food.

Probiotic supplements are another valuable addition, promoting a healthy gut microbiome and improving overall digestive health. A balanced gut can help reduce inflammation and support regular bowel movements, which are crucial for anal gland health. Supplements containing omega-3 fatty acids from sources like fish oil can further reduce inflammation, providing additional support for your dog's glandular and digestive health.

If you go searching for a new dog food or dog supplement, keep these benefits in mind! Your pup with a leaky bum or scooting struggles could find gut support with the right formula––especially if certain ingredients are involved!