Will canned pumpkin firm up a soft stool in dogs?
Original Question: My four year old dog is on a new diet because he has a chronic, probably autoimmune copper associated hepatitis diagnosed by a liver biopsy a few months ago. His stools are formed but soft and now he has problems with the anal glands. What can I add to his diet to harden his stools? Are the great things I hear about pure pumpkin true? Thank you for any info/advice. - Christa
The anal glands are two sacs that sit on either side of the anus and they produce this really smelly liquid. What happens is when a poop comes out it puts pressure on these glands and it causes them to squeeze and then the material comes out through these little tubes. If the stool is soft or chronically soft then it doesn’t put pressure on those anal glands and the glands will stay full. If the material inside of them dries and gets firmer, it will become very hard for it to come out. The anal glands can then become inflamed and painful and you will often see dogs dragging their bum on the ground. Sometimes they’ll burst open and the abscess causes dogs to lick their rear end and the abscess leaves a strong odour.
Bulking up the stool is certainly one way to try to deal with it. Pure pumpkin does work so you can buy canned pumpkin and add it to the diet and it will cause a little bit of bulking of the stool. One of the things I tend to like is looking at diet options so that you’re not adding something to the diet to fix a problem. It might be that there is an ingredient in the diet that you’re feeding your dog that is totally unrelated to the copper associated hepatitis that is causing the soft stools. I would consider switching to another diet that controls this condition that will hopefully firm up the stools without you having to add canned pumpkin. The other thing you can do is take your dog to the veterinarian to have their anal glands expressed or you could try it yourself. I think in 13 years I’ve only had one client who wanted to learn how to express their dog’s anal glands and I think most of us just want to stay away from that and leave it to the veterinarians with nice thick gloves to go about their business. The nice thing about knowing how to do it yourself is that when your dog is uncomfortable then you can address it without having to run to the vet or pay the expense, particularly if it’s a chronic issue.
I would ensure your dog’s anal glands are expressed sooner rather than later because the longer these things fill up and get irritated and inflamed over and over again the more problematic they will be and you may have to look into more serious procedures. You can try the canned pumpkin or go back to the original diet. Of course, talk to your veterinarian about diet recommendations and physical exam as they’re the ones who know your pet best.
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