What is High Fiber Diets and Anal Gland Disease?
The anal glands in dogs are small oval sacs that sit on either side of the anus just inside the rectum. They produce an oily substance that collects in tiny ducts and is expressed when they have a bowel movement; it is believed that this substance is used as a territorial marker. Dogs with bowel movements that are either too hard or too soft may not trigger the release of the fluid, and the sacs can become infected or rupture. Many veterinary professionals recommend a high-fiber diet to help prevent this problem in dogs who are prone to trouble with their anal glands.
Anal gland disease is a common disorder in canines characterized by the inability to express the fluid from the anal gland. A high-fiber diet is often recommended to reduce incidents of anal gland disease.
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Symptoms of High Fiber Diets and Anal Gland Disease in Dogs
One of the primary symptoms given for anal gland disease is the behavior of scooting the hindquarters along the ground. Although this is common among almost all dogs that are experiencing trouble with their anal glands, it is not the only reason dogs will exhibit this behavior. Other symptoms that indicate a problem with the anal glands can include:
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Excessive chewing or licking around anus
- Excessive chewing or licking at the base of the tail
- Swelling in the anal area
- Uncharacteristic snapping
- Unpleasant odor
There are several ways to add fiber to your canine’s diet and not all of them include grains.
- Adding fruits or vegetables - Some more popular fruits and vegetables to add to your dog’s diet include pumpkin, apples, and carrots; remember that dogs cannot digest whole vegetables, and they should be ground before offering them to your pet
- Adding grains - Oatmeal, rice, and barley may be added to your dog’s food in small amounts if your dog isn’t sensitive to these ingredients
- High-fiber dog food - Many commercial dog foods are formulated specifically for dogs with high-fiber needs, including several varieties that are grain-free
- Psyllium - Psyllium produces a type of soluble fiber with high water binding capacities, making it a good option to promote optimal stool quality; Metamucil is made from psyllium and is sometimes prescribed for dogs who need to increase the fiber in the diet
Causes of High Fiber Diets and Anal Gland Disease in Dogs
Although a dog’s diet plays a significant role in why some anal glands get infected or impacted, this is not the only contributor. Dogs that are obese and smaller breed dogs are more likely to develop this disorder, and trauma to anal glands can also precipitate this. The anal glands are somewhat delicate and can be injured if a manual expression is done incorrectly or too often. Some dogs also have anal glands that develop too deeply in the rectum, preventing the pressure from the digestive system from reaching them. Dogs with deeply inset anal glands may require an operation to remove the glands.
Diagnosis of High Fiber Diets and Anal Gland Disease in Dogs
Many of the symptoms of anal gland disease are similar to symptoms you might see with certain parasitic infestations, such as tapeworm. The scooting behavior and the licking and chewing can also be indicative of food allergies, tumors, or a rectal prolapse. A thorough physical exam will be completed, and the standard tests such as a biochemical profile, urinalysis, and complete blood count will be evaluated to check for any infections, toxins, or imbalances that may have an impact on the overall diagnosis. The veterinarian will also need to perform a complete rectal exam at this time as well. Doing this not only allows them to determine if the anal gland is impacted or swollen, but it also allows them to check for potentially dangerous abscesses as well as tumors and polyps that might be located in the anal glands or rectum.
Treatment of High Fiber Diets and Anal Gland Disease in Dogs
In most cases, your veterinarian will start by manually expressing the anal glands. This is done by using the finger to apply gentle pressure to the anal gland to release the substance inside, and if any abscesses have formed they will need to be lanced by a veterinary professional as well and if any bacterial infection is suspected or confirmed then antibiotics may be prescribed to address the problem. In many cases, your dog’s doctor will recommend that you increase the fiber in your pet’s diet to help prevent further cases of impaction or infection.
Increasing the fiber your pet consumes causes the stools to be larger, allowing for more pressure on the anal glands to ensure that they are able to be expressed naturally. The fiber increase may have the added benefit of reducing the weight of dogs who are obese, helping them to feel full faster and for a longer period of time.
Recovery of High Fiber Diets and Anal Gland Disease in Dogs
For dogs that have chronic anal gland disease that is not helped by a change in diet or lifestyle, or for dogs who are afflicted with deeply inset glands, a surgical alternative may be the best option. Anal glands, like the human appendix, are not absolutely needed for your pet’s continuing well-being and can be surgically removed. There are risks involved with any surgery, however, and this is no exception. The anal sacs sit very close to the nerves that control the anal sphincter, and even in an entirely successful operation, the swelling in the area may cause incontinence or loose stools for one to three weeks after surgery is complete. In rare cases, cutting these nerves may prove impossible due to swelling, and some of these dogs may lose the ability to control their bowels or develop anal leakage.
High Fiber Diets and Anal Gland Disease Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
I have a 12 pound pom who developed bladder stones in Jan 18 and had surgery. They changed her diet to Prescription CD food dry mixed with wet. Since this change she loves the food but does a lot of butt scooting. I had her anal glands checked, they were fine. She never had this problem on other food. Could she not be getting enough fiber with this food?
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My dog is having problems with her anal glands . She’s licking and scooting her butt across the carpet . I woke up to her having diarrhea through the night .. like 6-10 different piles . I was wanting to know what to do and how to stop the diarrhea.
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How much metamucil should I use for a 6 pound maltese? I feed her Purina Pro-Plan grain-free dog food. Would she be better off on the regular Purina Pro-Plan?
Thank you. I have contacted my vet to get her opinion.
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