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I've been feeding my dogs grain-free kibble for years, mainly because I bought into the idea that grains aren't "natural" for dogs, that corn is horrible, etc. However, two of my dogs now have anal gland problems, even though I supplement them with pumpkin and sweet potatoes, and make sure they get lots of exercise. Is it possible that a grain-inclusive food might help with this? More grain means more fiber, right?
 

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I don't think it matters whether the food is grain inclusive/grain free... from what I understand it has more to do with how firm their poo is (so that they can naturally expel them).

I don't think it would hurt to try a different food.
 

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Some dogs will always have anal gland issues no matter what you feed. If it is a feeding issue, the problem is usually when the poop is too soft, because if the poop is too soft, it won't put enough pressure on the anal glands to empty them. If you've been adding a lot of pumpkin and sweet potato, that could be the issue.
 

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I have a Chihuahua who developed anal gland issues, to the point she would get a bad infection with a large leaky bubble on her butt. Not fun. In my experience, ingredients have nothing to do with it, it's more about the fiber. Both grain free and grain inclusive foods can be high or low in fiber. Nothing wrong with grains though, one of my preferred foods is grain inclusive.

When she was on a grain inclusive food that was very low fiber is when this problem first developed. Soft stool is not the only cause. Her stool was so small, hard, and compact it wasn't enough to express her anal glands. Switching to a food with higher fiber fixed the problem. I tried a low fiber food again and the problem came back.

Onyx personally does best on foods that have a fiber percentage of around 5-7% If I want to get away with feeding a really low fiber food I use Glandex to play it safe. After those two incidences I haven't had the problem return since I made sure to get to the bottom of it asap.
 

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My GSP/Redbone Coonhound mix was fed 100% raw for almost three years (no grains), and she has always been prone to anal gland issues. For her, the issue is stool firmness. Two days of looser stool and the issue starts. My parents, on the other hand, have two collies that have been fed 100% raw for their entire lives, and never have anal gland issues.

Bone firms up the stool. Usually I have been able to stop it in it's tracks by giving her extra raw chicken legs, but sometimes more drastic measures are necessary. When that happens, I give her a raw knuckle bone (which I am not advocating because it can cause damage to the teeth. I am looking into other options.). The excessive bone quickly firms up the stool (almost too much) and fixes the issue. You may want to try supplementing their kibble with a chicken leg or wing a few times a week.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Hmm. I've always heard that soft stool causes anal gland issues, but both my dogs who have this problem have hard stools (usually). Without the pumpkin and sweet potato, the stools were even harder than they are now. So I'm confused....
 

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Hmm. I've always heard that soft stool causes anal gland issues, but both my dogs who have this problem have hard stools (usually). Without the pumpkin and sweet potato, the stools were even harder than they are now. So I'm confused....
Stool that is too small and hard causes anal gland issues too. If the stool is too small the anal glands won't empty. Hence why some dogs need more fiber.
 

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Hmm. I've always heard that soft stool causes anal gland issues, but both my dogs who have this problem have hard stools (usually). Without the pumpkin and sweet potato, the stools were even harder than they are now. So I'm confused....
If their stools are already hard, then supplementing with bone would make them even harder. Did they have this issue before you started supplementing with pumpkin and sweet potato?
 

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Discussion Starter #9
If their stools are already hard, then supplementing with bone would make them even harder. Did they have this issue before you started supplementing with pumpkin and sweet potato?
Yes, they did. That's why I started the supplements. I think the supplements have helped; they don't seem to be as bad as before, but they still need their anal glands expressed pretty often.
 

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Oh I see. I wish I had more advice. Alice's anal gland issues are always related to too-soft stools. In your situation I would probably try a different dog good, even high-quality grain-inclusive food.
 

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Kairi has had anal gland issues for a long time which I figured out were also made worse by her allergies. No food change has helped (and I've tried a LOT of foods).

The only thing that has significantly reduced the issue was to put her on digestive enzymes (giving her raw honey is how I discovered that would work but didn't want to keep giving her so much sugar). Her poop doesn't look any different to me.. but apparently something changed. It took about a month to seem to really work. Normally they were expressing on my couch once a week to every other day which was getting just ridiculous. Now it has only happened once in the past 2-3 months.. and it wasn't even bad enough for me to have to go rinse her butt off.

I didn't want to have them expressed because that doesn't really solve the problem and often makes it worse. This has been a good solution for us, but might not work for everyone.
 

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I've been feeding my dogs grain-free kibble for years, mainly because I bought into the idea that grains aren't "natural" for dogs, that corn is horrible, etc. However, two of my dogs now have anal gland problems, even though I supplement them with pumpkin and sweet potatoes, and make sure they get lots of exercise. Is it possible that a grain-inclusive food might help with this? More grain means more fiber, right?

Ocean has anal gland problems with grain free. He's been the first one of my rottweilers who have had to have them expressed. I switched him to kibble with a grain in it...we did Merrick Lamb and Brown Rice first and now he and Lars are eating Nature's Variety's Salmon and Brown Rice. Since then...no anal gland issues at all. Our vet at the time recommended we go back to a food with a grain in it and it totally fixed the problem.
 

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Sassy's anal sac issues went away when she started eating home cooked chicken and rice rather than kibbled chicken and rice. Stool looked the same or maybe smaller, she never had trouble with consistency once adjusted to the food. The kibble probably had more fiber than the fresh stuff which was only 2% dry weight fiber. I think she was allergic to something in the kibble that wasn't in the fresh food, that cleared up the slight inflammation in that area and the secretions were able to be expelled properly. Her issues were very slow to resolve, took me 6 months to realize she hadn't had to have the sacs taken care of. If your dog has allergies to anything else I'd wonder if an allergic response could be part of the issue.

Fiber is a class of more or less indigestible plant products, not a single substance. If you check the grain free kibble bag and compare to kibbles with grain you probably won't see much difference in fiber content but the type of fiber might be different. Maybe contact the kibble company to find out exactly what types of fiber are in there and supplement accordingly? If your research shows much more soluble than insoluble fiber is present try adding some insoluble fiber for instance. Some, go slow on this!

Unless there is a really bad response give whatever you do a long trial, inflammation can take a long time to resolve in that area.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I think I'm going to try a grain-inclusive food and just see what happens. Not sure what else to do, since I can't think of anything else that I'm not already doing. Of course, it's possible my dogs are prone to this problem and that's just the way it is. Have to wait and see, I guess.
 
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