By: Kayla Kowalski, Certified Canine Nutritionist
Your dog isn't scooting across your carpet just for fun, they actually may be trying to tell you something! Dog scooting is usually the first sign that your dog is having an anal gland issue. Anal gland issues are extremely common in dogs, but if left unattended, can develop into anal gland disease and cause an emergency trip to the animal hospital. Small dogs are much more susceptible to anal gland issues, but large dogs can have these issues as well. Fortunately, there are many things you can do as a pet owner to help your scooting pup.
How to Know If Your Dog Has Anal Gland Problems
Many times, dogs will scoot right after they do their business because they weren’t able to properly express their anal glands. Your dog's anal glands have two small sacs situated on either side of their behind. These sacs fill up with a not-so-pleasant liquid that your dog will secrete when they try to poop. If your dog goes to the bathroom but feels that they haven't properly expressed their glands, they will begin to scoot to try and express them that way. It is crucial your dog expresses their glands properly, as major issues can occur when the secretions build up.
Another way to tell if your dog is having anal gland problems is when there’s sensitivity around their tail and butt. You’ll notice that your dog may become hesitant if you go near the base of their tail. They may run off to a different part of your home or even give you a slight nip depending on how much pain they are experiencing. You may also notice excessive licking or biting around the base of their tail as they try to relieve their discomfort. This pain and discomfort come from the anal sacs becoming overfilled with the liquid they should be secreting. If the sacs are left full for too long, impaction may occur. Impacted anal glands are extremely painful and if left untreated, can eventually burst.
To avoid this, pay attention to your dog's poop! It may sound strange, but you can actually learn a lot about a dog’s health just by looking at their poop. Bowel movements that end with loose stools, mucous, or diarrhea are signs of anal gland issues.
Why is My Dog Having Anal Gland Issues
There are a variety of reasons your pup may be experiencing anal gland issues, however, diet is primarily where it starts. Just like with humans, what you put into your dog’s body is usually what you get out. Feeding your dog a healthy diet is crucial. Whether you decide to feed a raw diet, cooked diet, a high-quality kibble, or another type of dog food, make sure it is full of probiotics, soluble fiber, and healthy fatty acids. This will boost your dog's digestive health and ultimately help prevent them from having these potentially painful issues.
This leads us to one of our next major causes of anal gland issues, which is poor digestive health. If your dog's digestive system is not working properly, they will not be able to break down their food in a way that their body can manage. This means they will have a harder time passing that food through their system, thus leading to issues with their anal glands, rectum, poop, and more.
Finally, a weakened immune system may also cause your dog to have anal gland issues. Without the ability to properly fight or address bacteria in their body, your dog will have a load of health issues and anal gland disease is just one of them. I cannot stress enough how important a healthy, high-quality diet is for a dog's health!
Feed Your Dog Canned Pumpkin
A question many of you may now be wondering is, “what can I give my dog to help with their anal gland issues?”. One of the best answers is PUMPKIN! Pure pumpkin is a superfood that contains a multitude of benefits for dogs. It helps provide fiber, prebiotics, digestive enzymes and a ton of vitamins such as Vitamin C, Vitamin A, and more. Fiber and digestive enzymes help your dog break down their food properly, making it easy to pass through their bodies and prevent constipation. Vitamin C is amazing for helping boost your dog’s immune system and as we now know, a strong immune system is needed to avoid anal gland issues.
To add pumpkin to your dog’s food, you can use pure canned pumpkin from the grocery store. I recommend feeding 1 teaspoon of pumpkin for every 10 pounds of body weight. For example, if your dog weighs 20 pounds, you would give them 2 teaspoons of pumpkin.
Pie filling is usually on the same shelf as canned pumpkin, so they can easily be mistaken. Avoid pumpkin pie filling because it contains many unnecessary ingredients, such as sugar, which can have adverse effects on your dog’s health.
Another excellent option is to use Native Pet’s Pumpkin Powder. It’s an awesome digestive supplement and simple to use, you just add it to your dog’s food. Native’s pumpkin powder not only contains organic pumpkin but also organic pumpkin seed powder and organic apple powder. The pumpkin seeds help give your dog healthy Omega 3 fatty acids to aid in digestion.
One of my favorite ways to feed my dogs pumpkin is with frozen lick mats. I like to use Native Pet’s Pumpkin Powder and mix it with a little water to make a puree, then smear the paste all over the lick mat and freeze it for a few hours or overnight. Then I give the lick mats to my dogs to enjoy as a super healthy treat and a fun, challenging mind game.
Other Natural Solutions
I cannot stress enough how important a role diet plays in anal gland issues. A properly balanced, nutritious diet full of probiotics, soluble fiber, and healthy fatty acids gives your dog the best chance of being as healthy as they can be. I highly recommend feeding a raw diet, if possible, to give your pup the most health benefits. After all, dogs share 99% of their DNA with wolves, meaning they are biologically designed to eat raw foods. If a raw diet isn't possible, I always recommend feeding a high-quality kibble and adding in healthy toppers and supplements to give your dog the healthiest life possible.
Adding veggies that have high fiber content, like carrots and broccoli, is an excellent choice when considering what to add to your dog’s bowl. The fiber will benefit their digestive tract and allow for improvements with anal gland issues. Another great additive for your pups' food is kefir or yogurt. Both of these contain high-quality probiotics that help your pup’s digestive system. When choosing kefir or yogurt for your dog, make sure there are no unnecessary ingredients, such as sugar and artificial flavorings, which can make your pup's anal gland issue worse. Native Pet also has an amazing Probiotic Powder that is so easy to add on top of your dog's food.
Exercise and helping your dog maintain a proper weight is another very important aspect of your dog’s health that will help them with many problems, including anal gland issues. Many pet owners do not realize how detrimental being overweight is for their dogs. It can cause a ton of negative side effects and make anal gland issues worse so if needed, weight loss should be considered.
Finally, one other option many pet parents may never think of to help with their dog’s anal gland issues is to visit your groomer or DVM. They will be able to manually express your dog's glands and give you peace of mind knowing your dog's issues won't escalate into something more serious. Remember, prevention is key. Be sure to avoid low-quality kibble that has unnecessary fillers, preservatives, and high amounts of carbohydrates. Try to keep your dog’s diet clean and full of proper nutrients, fiber, and probiotics to keep them and their anal glands in optimal health!
If You’d Like More Help, I’m Here For You!
If you want to learn more about how to formulate properly balanced diets and how they play a role in your dog’s digestive system, go to KaylaKowalski.com – I can create a custom diet guide for you with recipes specifically tailored for your dog.
Consider me your new dog nutritionist! My name is Kayla Kowalski and I’m a Certified Canine Nutritionist (CertCN) who has guided over 3,300 pet parents through custom diet transitions.