Original Question: Oscar our dog has environmental and food allergies and is currently on Apoquel. Oscar needs to have his anal glands expressed about every 2 weeks - is there something that can firm up his stool (that is not pumpkin)? I saw in one of your videos that you recommended changing the food. After a costly process, I found that Rayne Pork & Potato food is okay and doesn't cause Oscar to break out in hives or cause excessive itchiness. I would rather not change Oscar’s food as this seems to work for him except for his bum situation. - Joanna
Great question. I can understand the issue that you are dealing with. You’ve put too much work in to start over again in order to resolve this secondary problem.
First, I need to make it clear, that we are assuming your dog is having recurrent anal gland issues because the bowel movements are not fully formed and are too soft. Secondly, I’m going to assume that your dog has dietary allergies when I answer this question but keep in mind that this is a serious assumption. It is difficult to make that diagnosis and be completely confident about it so I would consider that in the context of this answer. If you aren’t certain of that diagnosis then I advise you not to follow this advice.
From your question, I’m going to assume that you want to avoid changing the diet or use a different medication to control the allergies. Both of those could be considered but if we move past that, it leaves with the only option of adding something to the diet. I can appreciate your thoughts on using pumpkin and in some cases that may work. However, I have another thought. When dogs have food allergies, the ingredients they are sensitive to create an inflammation in the lining of the digestive tract. This impairs its ability to digest and to absorb any of the nutrients. So we could try and calm this reaction. This can be achieved by discussing medical treatment options in the form of medication but if you want to try something simpler, safer and healthier, you could consider giving your dog a probiotic. This is a live culture of beneficial bacteria which seed the gut and improve digestion. You can buy these products at your local pet supply stores but I would recommend you review this plan with your veterinarian and get a high-quality product to start with.
Please keep in mind that there could be other causes or concurrent causes for these symptoms. I would recommend that you discuss this with your veterinarian and consider diagnostics to rule out some of these conditions such as gastrointestinal parasites, underlying metabolic disease, intestinal disease, etc. You could perform fecal tests, fecal cultures, blood and urine testing and X-rays to start.
I hope this helps. Good luck.
Dr. Clayton Greenway