Ready to talk about your anal glands?
You probably are because swollen, infected anal glands are pretty common in dogs. That means if your dog doesn’t have anal gland issues today, he might tomorrow!
So I’m going to share two easy home remedies for managing your dog’s anal gland problems and then we’ll look at our top remedies that will help in stubborn cases.
But first, let’s take a brief look at what your dog’s anal glands are and why they might become irritated …
What Are Anal Glands?
Dogs have a pair of small glands on either side of the anus, just under the tail. These glands (also called sacs) contain a smelly, oily fluid that smells a lot like skunk. Nobody really knows why those glands are there, but they might help lubricate your dog’s stools and they might even carry pheromones, which are chemicals dogs and other animals can use to communicate.
Normally, when your dog poops, some of the liquid gets squeezed out of the glands as a result of pressure in the colon. But sometimes the glands don’t empty properly (for example, if dogs continually have soft stools).
If the anal glands don’t have a chance to empty, the fluid can build up. This is called impaction. When anal glands become impacted, they can become irritated and even infected and you’ll start to see your dog scooting across the floor, dragging his bum to try to get some relief. He might even successfully empty some of the fluid and you’ll get a whiff of that skunky odor!
If the impaction remains and the glands aren’t emptied (and we’ll talk about how you can help your dog empty his glands in a bit), the anal glands can become infected and eventually even abscess (they’ll form a painful pus pocket which could rupture).
So how do you know if your dog has anal gland problems?
What Do Dog’s Anal Gland Problems Look Like?
Here are some common signs that your dog has irritated anal glands:
- Scooting his butt on the ground
- Licking or biting at it
- Red swollen anal area
- Sitting uncomfortably
Most of the time, you’ll catch anal gland problems early on when you see these symptoms and you’ll be able to help your dog express the glands before they become impacted. So, let’s talk about how you can do that …
What To Do When Your Dog Is Scooting
Before we get to our top remedies to repair anal glands, let’s talk about some of the steps you can take in the early stages to prevent big problems down the road … and some of the things you shouldn’t do.
DO … Feed A Raw Diet
One of the most common causes of a dog’s anal gland problems is diet. Kibble diets mean mushy stools that don’t force the glands to empty.
Many vets will recommend a high fiber diet to attempt to firm up the soft stools that commercial dog foods can create … but a raw diet that includes bone content will do it much more effectively.[Related: Make Raw Feeding Simple]
Raw feeders are proud poop experts … and one type of poop they recognize is “bone poop.” When dogs eat a meal that’s higher in bone content, such as chicken backs or turkey necks, the result is a small but hard stool. This firm stool pushes against the anal glands when your dog poops, causing the glands to empty.
DO … Give Probiotics and Prebiotics
Giving your dog probiotics and prebiotics can help firm up stools. You can feed fermented foods like kefir or fermented veggies, or buy a pre- and probiotic supplement.
DO … Exercise Your Dog
Make sure your dog gets plenty of walks. Regular exercise will strengthen his rectal and abdominal muscles, allowing them to put more pressure on the anal glands. Exercise also helps encourage bowel movements and gives your dog the opportunity to poop more often.
DO … Treat Allergies
Food allergies and sensitivities can be a common cause of your dog’s anal gland issues … and if you don’t address the allergies, the anal glands will continue to be irritated. Environmental allergies can also lead to anal gland issues.
DON’T … Express Your Dog’s Anal Glands
Expressing anal glands means manually squeezing them to remove the fluid. Some groomers and vets do this routinely … and they may tell you to do it yourself too.
Don’t do it and don’t let your groomer or vet do it either! When you drop your dog off at the groomer, make sure to tell them you don’t need this service.
Contrary to what they may tell you, your dog shouldn’t need to have his anal glands expressed. All that repeated squeezing and pinching can cause even more inflammation, swelling and injury. Regular expressing also makes the anal glands dependent on that squeezing … and eventually they’ll stop working on their own.
DON’T … Remove The Glands
Sometimes when dogs have chronic anal gland infections, vets will recommend removing the glands altogether. This is a really bad idea as it can cause permanent damage to the anal sphincter and stop the body from cleansing itself. Toxins that would normally be secreted through the anal glands get driven deeper into your dog’s body and can cause other health issues.
If it gets to this point, call up a homeopathic vet or a homeopath and they can help you get past this without surgery (you can find a homeopathic vet at theavh.org and many of them will do phone consults so don’t worry if there isn’t one close by).
Treating Impacted Anal Glands
If you try the above steps and your dog is still scooting and the glands seem painful, it might be time to pull out the heavy artillery!
Here are two of our top proven home remedies for your dog’s anal gland problems …
Silica (or Silicea) 6C
Silica is an excellent homeopathic remedy you can use when your dog needs a little help to empty his glands. Silica helps the body expel both foreign objects and fluids such as pus and excretions.
You can buy Silica 6C just about anywhere. If you’re an Amazon shopper, here’s a link to buy it: https://www.amazon.com/Silicea-6C-Boiron-Tube-Pellet/dp/B0006NYI2M
Once you have your remedy, give your dog the Silica 6C twice a day for 2 to 7 days. Here’s how to do it…
Take 3 of the little pills (be careful not to touch them) and put them in a glass of filtered water. Mix them with a spoon and give your dog a few spoonfuls in the morning and at night (make sure he doesn’t eat for 20 minutes before and after).
If your dog doesn’t drink the liquid, don’t worry … as long as you get a good amount on his gums, the remedy will work just fine.
If your dog is really freaked out that you’re chasing him around with the spoon, just put the pellets in his water bowl and they’ll work just as well.
Note: You’ll need to mix a fresh batch every day as the remedies will only work in the water for 24 hours or so.
You can also consider applying a herbal poultice to your dog’s bum to help soothe the irritation and pull the infection out. Here are two to choose from (regular and extra strength) …
Canine herbalist Rita Hogan uses this poultice made from calendula flowers to help relieve impacted anal glands.
If the calendula poultice doesn’t do the trick, you may need a stronger recipe. Here’s another one from Rita Hogan.
You don’t have to let your dog’s anal gland problems get out of hand. These simple remedies can help fix and prevent your dog’s painful bottom and put an end to the scooting.