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10 Safe Foods To Help Dogs Express Glands: (Must-Read!)

If your furry friend has ever suffered from gland issues, you’ll know it’s not a pleasant experience for either of you.

But did you know that certain foods can help alleviate and prevent these issues? Yep it’s true!

This article will guide you through the signs and symptoms of gland problems in dogs, how food can help express glands, and the ten best foods to add to your dog’s diet for optimal gland health.

foods to help dogs express glands

Spotting the Signs & Symptoms of Gland Issues in Dogs

If you’re a dog parent, you’ve probably come across the term “gland expression.” Simply put, this is the process of clearing out the dog’s anal glands. Problems with these glands can result in a few telltale symptoms:

  1. Scooting or Dragging Rear on the Floor: This is usually your dog’s attempt to relieve discomfort or itchiness.
  2. Excessive Licking or Chewing at the Rear: This is another sign of discomfort in their back end.
  3. Changes in Bowel Movements: Issues with the anal glands can lead to diarrhea or unusually firm stools.
  4. A Pungent Smell: Impacted anal glands often give off a strong, fishy odor.
  5. Difficulty Sitting or Standing: If you notice your dog having trouble getting comfortable, it could indicate a gland problem.

If you observe any of these signs, it’s best to consult your vet. They can examine your dog, express the glands if needed, and recommend a diet plan to help prevent future issues.

How Food Can Help Express Glands

Dogs’ anal glands naturally express when there’s enough pressure from a healthy, firm stool.

If your dog has soft or small stools, the glands may not be adequately expressed, leading to buildup and possible infection.

This is where a good diet can come in.

By feeding your dog a high-quality diet with the right ingredients, you can help promote firm stools, which in turn helps express the glands naturally.

Some key nutrients include:

  • Fiber: Helps to bulk up the stool, putting pressure on the glands.
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Known for their anti-inflammatory properties, these can help alleviate gland issues.
  • Probiotics: Healthy gut bacteria can help support overall digestion, including stool quality.

Resource: PetMD

10 Best Foods To Help Dogs Express Glands

Some of the best foods to help express a dog’s gland naturally include: pumpkin, oats, chia seeds, blueberries, and bone broth. These help by firming up stool, which in turn helps to express the gland.

1. Pumpkin 🎃

Pumpkin is a rich source of dietary fiber, which adds bulk to your dog’s stool, helping to express the anal glands naturally. Not only that, but it’s also packed with essential vitamins and minerals, like Vitamin A, C, and E, potassium, and iron. Incorporate a spoonful of canned pumpkin (ensure it’s pure pumpkin, not pumpkin pie filling) into your dog’s meals for a nutritious fiber boost.

2. Oats

Oats are a fantastic, easy-to-digest source of fiber. They’re also packed with essential nutrients like vitamin B, iron, zinc, and omega-6 fatty acids. Cooking a small portion of oats and mixing it into your dog’s regular food can contribute to improved stool quality and thus gland health.

3. Sweet Potatoes 🍠

Sweet potatoes are rich in dietary fiber, which can help promote healthier stools. They are also a great source of vitamins A, C, and E, and minerals like calcium and iron. Being naturally sweet, they’re generally well accepted by dogs and can be cooked and mashed into their regular meals.

4. Bone Broth 🍲

Bone broth is an excellent addition to your dog’s diet. The gelatin in the broth can help firm up the stool, aiding in natural gland expression. Plus, it’s packed with beneficial nutrients like collagen, glucosamine, and minerals. Bone broth can be poured over your dog’s regular meals, or given as a warm, hydrating treat.

5. Apples (Without Seeds) 🍏

Apples are a crunchy, fiber-rich treat that most dogs love. They’re also packed with vitamins A and C, which can support overall health. Just remember to remove the core and seeds, as they can be harmful to dogs. Apples can be served raw, chopped into bite-sized pieces.

6. Carrots 🥕

Carrots are a low-calorie, high-fiber food that can aid in promoting firmer stools. They’re also packed with vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A for eye health. Plus, the crunchiness of carrots can help clean your dog’s teeth. They can be served raw for a crunchy treat, or cooked and mashed into your dog’s meals.

7. Chia Seeds

Despite their tiny size, chia seeds are a powerhouse of nutrition. They’re packed with fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, and various micronutrients. The omega-3s can help reduce inflammation, which may benefit dogs with gland issues. Sprinkle chia seeds over your dog’s meal or soak them to make a gel that can be mixed into their food.

8. Blueberries 🫐

Blueberries are a tasty treat that delivers a fiber boost. They’re also high in antioxidants, which can support your dog’s overall health. Serve them fresh or frozen as a treat, or mash them into your dog’s food.

9. Fermented Foods (Like Kefir or Unseasoned Sauerkraut)

Fermented foods are a great source of probiotics, which can help support your dog’s gut health and in turn, stool quality. Kefir is a fermented milk product that’s usually well-tolerated by dogs, and unseasoned sauerkraut (fermented cabbage) can also be a good source of fiber and probiotics. Introduce these foods slowly and in small amounts to ensure they don’t upset your dog’s stomach.

10. Fish (Like Salmon or Sardines) 🐟

Fish, especially oily varieties like salmon and sardines, are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. These can help reduce inflammation, benefiting dogs with gland issues. Fish also provides high-quality protein and a variety of vitamins and minerals. Ensure the fish is cooked and boneless before serving to your dog.

Incorporating These Foods Safely into Your Dog’s Diet

When introducing new foods into your dog’s diet, it’s crucial to start slowly. Add one new food at a time in small quantities and monitor your dog’s response.

If there are no signs of stomach upset or allergic reaction after a few days, you can gradually increase the amount.

It’s also important to remember that these foods should supplement, not replace, a balanced canine diet. Always consult your vet before making significant changes to your dog’s meals.

Lastly, while these foods can aid in natural gland expression, they’re not a guaranteed cure-all. If your dog continues to have gland issues, it’s essential to seek veterinary care.

When To See a Vet

While diet can play a significant role in promoting your dog’s anal gland health, it’s important to understand that serious or persistent gland issues require veterinary attention.

Here are some signs that it’s time to schedule a visit with your vet:

  1. Persistent Symptoms: If your dog continues to scoot, lick their rear, or show discomfort despite dietary changes, it’s time to consult with your vet. Chronic discomfort can indicate an underlying issue that needs professional treatment.
  2. Changes in Stool: If you notice ongoing changes in your dog’s stool, such as consistent diarrhea or very hard stools, it’s wise to seek veterinary advice. These changes can indicate digestive problems that may affect gland health.
  3. Foul Odor or Discharge: If you notice a strong, fishy odor or see a discharge from your dog’s rear, this is a clear sign of an anal gland problem. It’s crucial to get your dog to the vet promptly, as these symptoms can indicate an infection or abscess.
  4. Swelling or Redness: If the area around your dog’s anus looks swollen or red, or if your dog seems to be in pain when their rear is touched, these could be signs of an anal gland issue that requires immediate veterinary attention.
  5. Loss of Appetite or Lethargy: If your dog shows a loss of appetite or becomes lethargic, especially in conjunction with any of the above signs, you should contact your vet immediately. These can be signs of a systemic issue that could be related to the anal glands.

In all these situations, it’s essential to consult with your vet promptly.

While some anal gland issues can be managed at home with dietary changes and regular care, others can progress to serious conditions if left untreated.

Always remember, when in doubt, reach out to a professional. Your dog’s health and comfort are worth it!

Additional help: Cornell University Anal Sac Disease


Before making any decisions that could affect the health and/or safety of your dog, you should always consult a trained veterinarian in your local area. Even though this content may have been written/reviewed by a trained veterinarian, our advice to you is to always consult your own local veterinarian in person. Please read our full dislcaimer if you have any questions.