How A Raw Diet Benefits Your Dog's Anal Glands

Dogs love butts. Sniffing a new pooch pal’s posterior is how they learn the kind of information it would take a human a whole coffee date to find out. And without clean and healthy anal glands, they don’t smell so good from behind.

Contrary to popular misconception, dogs shouldn’t need regular visits to the vet to have their anal glands expressed. Their butts should be self-cleaning machines, and if you’re feeding the right food, those anal glands will look after themselves.

What Do Your Dogs’ Anal Glands Do?

Dogs have two small, modified sweat glands just inside their butts. When they poop, the glands leave a smear of fluid on the feces. This fluid carries individual identifiers as unique as a fingerprint! In this way your dog can tag their territory with a turd, like leaving a business card or staking a flag.

When dogs stop to sniff poops on the ground, they pick up all kinds of other messages from the anal gland fluid. They can tell when it was left, what the pooper ate, and how healthy the dog is. Pheromones in that fluid indicate if bitches are in season or how mature a male is. 

Why is Your Dog Scooting on its Butt?

If you’ve seen your dog scooting its bum along the grass or carpet, it may be a sign that their anal glands are blocked or clogged. This gets in the way of producing that informative fluid, and leads to discomfort for your pooch. Contrary to many Google results which will instruct you to personally express your dog’s anal glands on their behalf (gross), or rush to the vet, there is a simpler and longer-term solution.

Diet is Everything

Wild dogs take care of their anal gland health by pooping out well-formed and firm turds. This naturally expresses the glands and clears blockages. What goes in must come out, and the secret to these firm poops is the wild dog’s diet – fresh prey eaten whole: meat, bones, hair, feathers, and all.

A kibble diet – heat-extruded, dried out, and bulked with grains and fillers your dog’s body can’t digest – results in sloppy poops that are too soft and underformed to express the anal glands as they pass through. Grains and fillers in a dog’s diet are known leading causes of anal gland blockages. Raw fed dogs on the other hand produce smaller, firmer stools (rather than sloppy ones), for a number of reasons.

Because the food is not bulked with fillers, a far greater proportion of the ingredients in raw dog food are bio-available and are absorbed by the dog’s body, so there is less waste to excrete in the first place.

The bone content acts as a binding agent, holding the waste together.

A raw diet also provides both soluble and insoluble fibre, natural digestive enzymes, and probiotics. These all contribute to overall gut health, and naturally reduce anal gland inflammation.

As your raw fed dog’s posterior proudly passes one of these firm poops, their anal glands are naturally expressed. No build-up of unused anal gland fluid, and therefore no blockages!

Constipation and Raw Dog Food

Don’t be concerned if your dog appears to strain a bit more to defecate when you first switch them to raw, or if the poop seems very solid. It’s actually important and natural for them to push a bit and produce a drier, firmer stool than you may be accustomed to if you’ve been feeding a dry diet. Remember, that solid poop is working to express the anal glands so you don’t have to!

You’ll come to love these dense little packages that are so much easier to pick up when you’re strolling in the park. Improved poop pick-ups and reduced pong are many of our customers’ favourite things about feeding raw!

Even a raw fed dog can get constipated of course, especially if they’re getting lots of bones as treats. We recommend a maximum of 2-3 recreational bones a week, but if you do accidentally overdo it, half a teaspoon of coconut oil will sort it out (taken orally, not as a suppository!).

You’re also welcome to incorporate kefir into your raw diet for extra gut happiness, though check the ingredients of the food you’re feeding first if it’s premade, as some of our manufacturers include it already!

If you have any other concerns or questions about your dog’s digestion, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

Back to blog

Have a question? Pop us a mail, we'd love to help!