Labradoodle & Goldendoodle Forum

Veterinary recommends Hills Science z/d diet - Due to anal gland issues? HELP!!

So our 2-year old labradoodle has continued to experience impacted/full anal glands which need to be cleaned out by the vet almost monthly. The vet is now thinking it may be a food sensitivity (which I have inquired with the vet previously) and is now suggesting Hills Science z/d to try and rule out anything?

I know Hills Science isn’t a great food, but wondering if anyone else has dealt with this issue or food? Any thoughts and suggestions would be appreciated. 



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A few people here have had dogs who had anal gland issues. One person's dog even had to have surgery to remove the glands. 

In most cases, these issues are genetic. (Don't bother asking your breeder, she will say she's never had a dog with this before. That's the standard answer when anyone asks a doodle breeder is they've ever had a dog with (fill in the name of health issue). And since there's no way to prove that it's genetic anyway, save yourself the aggravation.

Sometimes, the dog just needs a lot more fiber in his diet. Besides choosing a food that is high in fiber (at least 5%), you can add psyllium to his diet. You can buy plain pure psyllium fiber in any drugstore; the brand name is Konsyl, but you can find less expensive store brands. Just make sure it doesn;t have any flavorings or other ingredients; you want plain psyllium. Bake a sweet potato in your microwave (takes about 7 minutes), let it cool, peel, and mash with a fork. You can store it in your refrigerator for 4-5 days or more. at mealtimes, mix a half teaspoon of psyllium into a tablespoon of sweet potato, and add to your dog's food.

It's also important to feed on schedule (no free feeding), and to avoid high fat snacks and treats. 

Sometimes, groomers can make anal gland issues worse by expressing the glands externally. Make sure your groomer is not doing this. Ask that she leave his anal glands alone.

Hill's z/d (and ALL of their foods) are pure garbage. The only benefit to it is that it contains hydrolyzed protein, which the body doesn;t recognize and therefore can't respond to. That would work IF a dog had a food allergy or intolerance. However, anal gland problems are NOT the main or only symptom of food sensitivities. Your dog would be having other symptoms: digestive issues like diarrhea and vomiting, skin issues like itching, licking, hot spots, etc.

If you want to pursue the idea that your dog has a food sensitivity to see if a diet change will help, we can help you find a much better food to try than Hill's. We just need a formula that doesn;t contain the same proteins as the current diet. 

What exact food formula are you currently feeding? 


Sorry to be responding so late, but was having problems connecting via my phone.

He is currently on, and has been since we got him from the breeder at 9 weeks, Earthborn Hollistic Grain-Free dry food. He's had a few of the different flavors of this brand. He is cream colored and does lick a lot and sometimes scratches and nibbles at his paws too. As for the diarrhea, that has happened on occasion but we chalk it up to the excessive licking at his butt.

When we have had his glands expressed, it's always by the vet or vet tech. His groomer is at the vets office so it's all inclusive that they are around and do checks too.

The vet has also suggested that if we were to go with something other than Hills to look at a food that is limited ingredient but, with the main protein being duck.

Much appreciate any additional feedback.


Well, he may have allergies. Food allergies in dogs are relatively rare, but they do occur in 1% of dogs. Atopic Dermatitis, (also called seasonal, environmental, or inhalant allergies) is a lot more common, occurring in approximately 10% of dogs, and Labs are among the breeds most commonly affected.  Anal gland issues can be a symptom, but never the only symptom. The paw licking is a major symptom of allergies, but they will usually do it to the point of infecting themselves. 

So if you want to try a food trial before seeing an allergy specialist (I strongly advise against having a GP vet try to diagnose or treat allergies), a limited ingredient formula is the way to go.

There are LID foods that are duck based, but before I make any recommendations, has your guy ever eaten duck in any of his food formulas or treats? The reason I ask is that you have to go with a protein he has never eaten before. The vet may just be assuming that duck is a novel protein for most dogs, but that's not the case. 


He hasn't had duck so it would be a new protein for him. In looking at the Earthborn site, it looks like they have a LID assortment -

In researching all of the great information on this site, I know that Earthborn is one of the recommended food brands, but I think their Venture assortment is rather new. Would you suggest staying within this brand of food, or trying something else. I am considering Acana Singles, Zignature, Wellness Simple, and Nature's Variety.

All depending on pricing and availability. In going back through some older posts from others, they all seem to be pretty good and there were even suggestions of adding more fiber to the diet. Adding say green beans or sweet potato.  I will also look for the psyllium you mentioned above too.

Do you have any preferences to any of the food brands I am considering?


The Venture Duck formula would be fine. It has a very nice fiber content at 8%, and the Omega 3 fatty acid content is good too. 
When doing a food trial, you need to stay with the one single animal protein, and that includes treats as well. So no animal proteins other than duck in any treats you give him. Things like dehydrated sweet potatoes would be fine, too. Or you can use raw carrots or any other fruit or veggie he likes.

 Hi Lisa Just wanted to chime in on the anal gland issue. Teddy is currently on that Zignature goat due to gastrointestinal issues and does pretty well with some occasional stomach upset. I usually give him a Pepcid if this occurs. He also has seasonal allergies and is on an anti-histamine that we got at the vet. However, he had bad anal gland issues for most of his life, having to go to the vet to have them expressed every three weeks. About a year ago I started adding a teaspoon of canned pure pumpkin to his morning and evening meals and he is doing much better – he goes to the vet now every six weeks or so to have them expressed.  We also tried the psyllium husk but at the time I was doing home cooked meals for him so it didn’t seem to have much effect. He seems to do well with the pumpkin and loves it too! 

Pumpkin works much the same way as mashed sweet potatoes. I usually recommend the latter because it's much less expensive and you have less waste. But the pumpkin is a fine alternative.

I'm glad Teddy is doing so much better!

I have no idea if it's a coincidence or if it was actually related to the food change.  I had to switch several years back to a limited ingredient because one of my pups was vomiting bile, well a few months after the food change my other girl who had suffered anal gland issues all her life (5+ years) quit having issues and here we are several years later and she's still doing great?  The only thing I can think is she was a grazer before and when we switched to Zignatures she started eating a little more enthusiastically?  Not 100% sure, but that would be my best guess but regardless it was an ongoing issue before the food switch and we were going in every 4-6 weeks to have them expressed, the vet was always dumbfounded at how impacted they were in such a short period of time. So as a whole I consider it a double win, Sassy quit vomiting and Josie no longer had a smelly swollen butt! I just wish this DCM food scare wasn't dangling over my head because they have all been doing really well on the Zignatures.  BTW, it doesn't matter which flavor as I rotate every bag.

I know this probably isn't going to ease your mind much, but there is no DCM food scare. There really is nothing to worry about. 

Thanks Karen, your reassurance does help ease my mind some but I can't help but question myself time and again. I always wait to hear your interpretation on the recent events. It does seem too iffy in general but if human name to work about those dearest to us.

LOL, I'm guessing that the end of that last sentence should read : "it's human nature to worry about those dearest to us."

Zignature's statement in response to the DCM nonsense; perhaps this will help you feel better:



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