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kimmyg1957's avatar

Does anyone have a dog with angry anal glands? My shih tzu has to have hers emptied about every 3 weeks at the vets..she has a lot of misery from both...

Asked by kimmyg1957 (7points) April 11th, 2013

Does anyone know why some dogs have over active anal glands?

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21 Answers

glacial's avatar

I have no personal experience with this… but have you thought of having them removed? Apparently that’s a long-term solution that some people choose.

Blueroses's avatar

Does it come to impaction/infection? Your vet or groomer can show you how to express them at home yeah, it’s gross and smells like really dead fish Buy a box of gloves and do it regularly (every few days, outside). It’s usually that the material hardens and causes a blockage/backup. Regular expression can resolve it, with luck, so that it works the way it’s supposed to.

Anal gland scent is your dog’s “tagline”. An individual signature that says “Buffy was here and left this poo for the edification of all who follow.” If you are able to keep the passage clear, it will usually become a naturally emptying gland.

Surgical removal is possible but generally only recommended if regular expression fails. It is a general anesthesia surgery and incontinence of bowel can be a side effect during recovery.

wildpotato's avatar

Here is a good video on how to express them yourself (NSFW).

I have read that it is not a great idea to have them surgically removed because all the bacteria in the area make infections at the healing site likely, and it doesn’t always stop the animal’s discomfort in the long term, apparently.

rooeytoo's avatar

First thing I would try is a change in diet. A dog with a good diet does not USUAlly have any problems with anal glands. They are there to lubricate and ease the passage of normal scat which should be quite firm. If the dog has a chronically soft squishy stool the anal glands never are expressed naturally and then need to be done manually. You can do it yourself, it isn’t that bad. But the bottom line is I would look into a barf diet. Dogs on barf RARely have anal gland problems. I cap those words because there are no absolutes and some dogs have a genetic disposition to certain problems.

I would not consider surgery unless you had continual impactions and abscesses. That is like removing a leg because you keep cutting it while shaving.

Blueroses's avatar

@rooeytoo I really like the analogy of cutting off your leg because….

I would be careful recommending BARF diet. I know you are a fan and do it correctly, but I’ve seen it applied by the “internet informed” badly Always do more than a few website searches before making a major diet change for your pet. Talk to your vet. Do it right.

rooeytoo's avatar

I think it is hard to mess up. And since vets are now all marketing dry foods, if you ask your vet he will tell you to feed the processed crap out of a bag. In human nutrition they are telling you to stay away from processed foods, they are killing you, not to mention making you fat, but animal nutrition is going the other way, makes you wonder a little doesn’t it???

I have been making my living in the dog business for almost 40 years now. When I started most dogs were fed table scraps and they had fewer skin problems, ear infections, anal gland problems, cancer and on and on and on. Now most are suffering from one or more of those problems. And don’t forget that the obesity problem is not restricted to humans, I see more fat dogs these days. You never saw fat dogs when I started. Feed them the fat sprayed garbage out of the bags and watch the problems roll!

Nope I stand by what I said, feed real food, use common sense, feed raw meaty bones, and if it makes you feel better , throw in a small handful of dry stuff too. You will have a happier, healthier dog with nice firm poops, the kind you can pick up with barbeque tongs. If done properly it doesn’t cost anymore than the bags of dry the vet sells.

I thought that analogy was extreme but so was the suggestion to remove the anal glands!

Blueroses's avatar

@rooeytoo The markup on dry food doesn’t even cover the overhead of stocking it, so it is not in most vet’s marketing interest to sell food just for the sake of profit. Around these parts, it is not hard to fuck up the BARF diet. Throw all the waste meat and bones at the dog (it is their natural instinct to eat it, after all), spend the money you saved on dog food testing fecal samples and treating salmonella, e.coli and tapeworms.

rooeytoo's avatar

@Blueroses – I have heard the mark up story before and I know they don’t make much, but they make enough so that it is worth while or they wouldn’t do it. So why do you figure they are heading in the exact opposite direction of human nutrition, saying feed processed stuff? And yes, dogs do eat garbage but their digestive systems can handle a lot more bacteria than ours can. Wild dogs will eat rotting flesh. But really the only rule is don’t feed anything that you wouldn’t eat yourself. That takes care of that objection!

You know what is interesting, here they never do fecal tests, everyone just worms their dogs 4 times a year. Up north where there were so many ticks I used ivermec and that took care of all worms so I didn’t need anything else. Down here I am torn, no heart worms and very few ticks so no need for ivermec so I can’t make up my mind what to do about worming. I don’t like giving meds they don’t need. I should look for a microscope and do my own stool checks!

I don’t know where Kimmy is but I would have thought in your neck of the woods, you would have a good supply of moose meat!

nofurbelowsbatgirl's avatar

I have 2 dogs. One has never had the anal gland problem ever. The other had his cleaned out on january, and has just started scooting every once in awhile on the grass again :/ must be the angry anal gland syndrome, come to think of it, yes he has had this issue forever, he used to scoot on my new fancy area rug!, }me{ was not impressed, lol. Arghh.

syz's avatar

If you think that the BARF diet is hard to mess up, you’re sadly mistaken. We treat vomiting, diarrhea, sepsis, garbage gut, bacterial contamination, and intestinal obstructions from the BARF diet all of the time.

I would point out, however, that dogs are not wolves.

Veterinarians do not “mark up dry food to make money”. At our hospital, we actually have to mark food up at a lower rate than we mark up any other product because of the high cost to us. It’s barely affordable at even the reduced rate, so we take a loss on it.

A high fiber diet is supposed to help. You can actually sprinkle metamucil on whatever his regular diet is. However, I haven’t seen a significant difference from fiber once they have a problem.

The easiest solution is to learn to empty them yourself. It’s not at all difficult, just smelly. You can buy a box of latex gloves at any pharmacy and a paper towel is all you need.

If you are not able to empty them yourself for some reason, make sure to have them checked regularily. Impacted anal glands will eventually rupture and create a bloody, smelly, infected wound.

Patients who have recurring issues (they can impact over and over) have the option of surgical removal. Since anal glands have no real function except as territorial scent markers, removing them is hardly like removing a leg. If you do go that route, use a boarded surgeon or at least a doctor who has done the procedure many times – an inexperienced surgeon can damage vital nerves and cause permanent fecal incontinence.

livelaughlove21's avatar

Holy shit (no pun intended). I’ve never heard of this issue in pets and, after watching the YouTube clip, I sincerely hope my dog never has such problems. I could probably go my whole life without sticking my finger up her ass and be just fine.

How do you know if they have this problem?

wildpotato's avatar

@syz I’m glad to hear you say that – I am preparing to try to express them for my boy cat, and I was nervous that I’d hurt him doing it myself – haven’t done it before.

Question – how much pressure does one have to use? Some sites say a lot, while others say to be very gentle.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

I’m lmao at “angry anal glands”!!

You can express them yourself at home, so she doesn’t have to go to the vet as often. Just do it outside and have some baby wipes or something to clean her backside off with after the fact. You don’t want that oil sticking to her fur; it stinks worse than rotten shit.

syz's avatar

@wildpotato You can use an external pressure method, which I’d recommend unless you get trained by a tech or doctor at your vet clinic, especially in a cat. There’s less chance of rupturing or bruising with the external method.

Most cats have pretty firm stools and don’t tend to have a problem with anal glands (as the animal defecates, the pressure squeezes the anal gland and forces a small amount out along with the stool). Is he having an issue with them?

Basically, place your thumb and index finger on each side of the rectum at the 4:00 and 8:00 position, close to the pelvis/body. Then with a steady pressure, “milk” to material away from the body. You’ll feel the anal glands, they’ll be fairly firm glands and the size will vary depending on how full they are. (In a cat, I’d expect fairly full glands to feel like a small lima bean, one on each side.)

The material tends to be thick and pasty, sometimes even kind of chunky, so the amount of pressure needed depends on the individual animal. You should not be causing the pet pain, however.

As you might surmise, cats do not exactly appreciate having this done – they tend to object rather more strenuously than dogs.

rooeytoo's avatar

Well if one follows this line of reasoning, that is, eat processed food instead of real food because you might contract a disease, then I guess we should all be eating a diet of ramen noodles every day of our lives!

People can contract food poisoning too. I think many present at doctors’ offices all over the world on a daily basis with this problem. And again I ask, should we therefore eat only ramen noodles?

No one does anything for nothing. “Veterinarians do not “mark up dry food to make money”. At our hospital, we actually have to mark food up at a lower rate than we mark up any other product because of the high cost to us. It’s barely affordable at even the reduced rate, so we take a loss on it.” Just because you do not mark it up at the same rate as drugs handed out does not mean you are not making money. How do you take a loss if you are marking it up? I don’t understand that. To me that means charging more than you paid for it.

It is like holistic medicine, anyone involved with the practice of western medicine scorns the eastern methods. And yet they have their place in the overall scheme of things. Feed your dog good fresh raw or cook it if you like, in my mind raw is not necessary, what is necessary is that it be real food, not ramen noodles!

syz's avatar

@rooeytoo “Cost” is not just what the product costs; what we make, overall, is affected by what we pay out, overall. The square footage of the storage space for the food stocks can be divided into the mortgage to determine the “rent” of that space, the cost of the phone service that allows us to place an order, the cost in tech time for keeping inventory, ordering, logging, and storing the product, the fee for the credit card machine and credit card processing, the printers that print the receipt, the paper that makes up the receipt, the ink cartridges that make up the receipt, the pay for the receptionist that rings up the transaction, the electricity that keeps the lights on and runs the AC….You may scoff and say that those are not related to the cost of the food, but if any one of those items cannot be paid for, then that food cannot be sold.

Our calculations for how we price our services and products are based on what we spend, with a target “income” percentage. We may work our asses off for a whole month and bring in $300,000.00 in income, and our cash increase at the end of the month is $14,000.00. That’s 35 people working 24/7 to provide a high quality of care and compassion, for a measly 14 grand. I get so sick of people acting like veterinary medicine is some sort of “get rich quick” scam. Vet students graduate with an average of $200,000.00 in student loan debt, and veterinary hospitals buy the same equipment, materials and drugs that human medicine uses, but we charge about 1/10th as much for the service that we provide.

You may poo-poo prepared dog food and talk about how your dogs used to survive on table scraps, but you’re ignoring the fact that the average life span for dogs has increased tremendously in the last few decades and a large part of that is a high quality, balanced diet. If you choose to feed a raw diet, more power to you – but don’t sell misinformation in an effort to promote your own beliefs.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@kimmyg1957 Here is my answer on regarding my own poodle mix that has had this problem most of his life. You will see directly under my first answer that smaller breed dogs more commonly have this problem.

With my Chumly, things have improved greatly in the past couple of years. He’s now 11. From pupdom to about age 9, I had to have his glands expressed a minimum of 4 times per year. Even with expression, he became blocked & ruptured within hours a few times.

Even our vet was convinced he’d need to remove the glands. We’ve just kept up with expressing his glands.

A top quality, grain free commercial pet food has seemed to help. Mind you, he has always been fed a top quality food….and has had fresh food for a period of time to see if it would decrease the problem. It did not.

rooeytoo's avatar

@syz for every vet that poo poos the barf or real diet, there is one that touts it. So don’t you sell misinformation in an effort to promote your own beliefs.

Vets are in business to make money. I have yet to find one that works for free. They charge what the market will bear, I don’t complain about that, it is economics (and by the way thank you for the lesson). And I don’t see many living under the poverty level so they must be making money somewhere. But again that is off topic. The topic is what to feed your dog.
Dogs do not get sick from eating real food, why do you keep saying they do???

Do you eat only ramen noodles? Do you eat only processed foods? I know you don’t, so why the hell do you keep saying that is the way to feed a dog whose digestive system is much less able to digest the grains and fat which is the main component of most dry dog foods. Also when you want to discuss how safe and healthy dry food is, better check out this site first. It tells a different story.

wildpotato's avatar

@syz Thanks very much for the tips! I PMed you the answer to your question so as not to derail the thread.

La_chica_gomela's avatar

That happened with our dog once. The vet told us to try to take him out more promptly when he has to poop, which we did, and he’s been fine since then.

nofurbelowsbatgirl's avatar

@syz @rooeytoo My dog has liver failure. I had to find a diet that suited her needs. Ironically even certain cooked real human foods bother her and she gets diarrhea. And her bilirubin goes out of wack. She almost died from this and it cost me over 3500$ in vet bills with a 2 week stay in ICU. She was on a diet that consisted of human food this was my husbands idea before she got liver failure. The diet consisted of rice, carrots, chicken sometimes giblets always cooked, sweet potatoes and pure pumpkin, breakfast was oatmeal instead of potatoes and pumpkin. 2 months after my husband passed the dog got extremely sick.

Anyway through trial and error I actually found a commercial diet which works wonderfully for her and it is a vegetarian food. Certain foods still affect her. But she is the dog that has never had anal gland problems, go figure!

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