For approximately the last year, our now 2 year old Labrador Retriever has had a problem with her anal glands. We've taken her to the Vet 2-3 times to have them 'expressed', but within a few weeks the smell is back. If you haven't smelled this before, trust me it is foul.

The interesting thing however is that this appears to have started when we switched her off "puppy food" (formulated for puppies) to adult food (Turkey as the main ingredient).

It is also interesting that since we have switched her to a different food (Beef as the main ingredient), the frequency has nearly diminished to none.

The bottom of the can that I keep her food in still contained the turkey based food, because I decided to switch before she was completely out, and also didn't want to dump all the existing food in the garbage in the event switching didn't work.

Well, we've reached the old food in the can, and now the smell is back.

My question:

Is it plausible that switching her to Beef instead of Turkey (the same manufacturer of food), could have impacted the decreased presence of the anal gland issue?

1 Answer 1



Allergies cause generalized seborrhea which in the end makes the glands overproduce their secretions.

Any dog can develop an allergy to a food that they have been on for many years, at this point it was a good idea to try a different protein source.

Good bowel movements are also important for the anal sacs to empty, if your dog has loose stool it will be difficult to push out the anal juices from their sacs. Having more fiber in the diet can facilitate the expression.

From Merk Manual:

Anal sacs may become impacted, infected, abscessed, or neoplastic. Failure of the sacs to express during defecation, poor muscle tone in obese dogs, and generalized seborrhea (which produces glandular hypersecretion) lead to retention of sac contents. Such retention may predispose to bacterial overgrowth, infection, and inflammation.

From Science Direct + Small Animal Dermatology (Fourth Edition):

Anal sac disease is a disease process that results in anal sac impaction, which may be followed by secondary infection (sacculitis) and abscess formation. Recurrent anal sac disease is often associated with underlying food hypersensitivity or atopy. It is common in dogs, with the highest incidence noted in small-breed dogs. It is rare in cats.

  • @Brien I'll update my answer,I wouldn't bother with doing allergy testing. It's a total waste of your money as it is not 100% accurate. Best way to do a food trial is to use a veterinary hypoallergenic or novel protein diet (no chance of cross contamination) and feed only that, no treats of ANY kind. This will rule out food allergies. Feb 5, 2018 at 1:01

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