Your dog’s anal glands … a very stinky problem with an easy and cost-effective solution.
Sure, it’s not the most pleasant subject, but it’s an important part of your dog’s health. If your dog’s anal glands aren’t working right, they cause discomfort … and even infection.
The Function of Dog Anal Glands – Both Fascinating and Gross!
You know your dog marks his (or her – girls do it too!) territory with his pee, but did you know he also marks with his poop?
First of all, let’s be clear about what the anal glands or anal sacs are. Technically, the anal glands aren’t glands at all. In fact, they’re sacs. Each sac contains oil and sweat glands. They have small receptacles of foul-smelling liquid … a lot like skunks! Your dog has two anal glands, near the anal opening, at 4 o’clock and 8 o’clock. The glands can empty when your dog poops, or when he’s stressed.
When the glands express, they can create a very sudden, unpleasant change in your dog’s odor. So when dogs sniff each other’s butts, it’s like checking a human passport! Sniffing another dog’s rear tells your dog a lot about that other dog.
But there are times when things can go wrong with the anal glands.
Anal Gland Problems In Dogs
Just like us, dogs need fiber in their diet. But many of us seem to think we can feed mushy puréed foods … and expect fairy dust and rainbow sprinkles (well, solid poop anyway) to come out the other end.
Fiber helps the anal glands work properly. But most commercial dog diets don’t have much fiber. So, a lot of dogs need their anal glands expressed manually. That means the vet or groomer squeezes them by hand to get the fluid out. (Not a fun job.)
Over the last few decades, anal gland problems have been a pain in the butt for both dogs and cats. While most dogs do fine, some research shows that 12% will get anal gland issues.
You’ll notice something’s wrong when you see your dog …
- Dragging his butt on the ground – scooting
- Licking or biting at his butt
- Sitting uncomfortably
- Having difficulty sitting or standing
- Even chasing his tail
As long as the ducts in the anal glands are open and the consistency is liquid enough, your dog will be fine. But over time, chronic disease can create a blockage in the ducts. These anal gland issues become an acute symptom of that chronic disease.
What Can Cause Dog Anal Gland Problems?
Diet plays a big role in anal gland problems. That’s because processed foods and even some raw foods are too soft. When the diet contains the right fiber it promotes a good wide push of the anus during defecation. This pressure helps to express the anal glands. When that doesn’t happen, your dog’s anal glands and their ducts can swell shut. Or their discharge can become so thick, your dog can’t pass it.
Some veterinarians will suggest removing your dog’s anal glands. Don’t do it! That’s the worst possible thing you can do. It can cause permanent damage to the anal sphincter. And it prevents the body from cleansing itself. Toxins that would normally exit through the anal glands go deeper into your dog’s body … causing more health issues.
So … what’s the answer to this icky problem?
Natural Remedies For Anal Gland Troubles
We’ll talk about some steps you can take to prevent problem anal glands. But if your dog’s already got a problem with his anal glands, here’s what to do.
Calendula Compress For Anal Gland Relief In Dogs
First, you can relieve the irritation with this soothing compress.
- Put a teaspoon of sea salt in a cup of warm water.
- Add 8 drops of calendula tincture to the mixture.
- Pour it onto a cloth and hold it against the inflamed area until the cloth is cool.
- Repeat the process every hour until the swelling goes down or until the glands open and drain.
Homeopathy For Your Dog’s Anal Glands
There’s an excellent homeopathic remedy for anal glands. It’s called Silica (or Silicea). Use it when your dog needs a little help emptying his glands.
Give your dog the Silica 6C twice a day for 2 to 7 days. Here’s how to do it…
- Try not to touch the pellets with your hands as that can spoil the remedy.
- Put about 3-5 pellets into a small glass of filtered or spring water (don’t use unfiltered tap water).
- Stir vigorously with a spoon for about 20-30 seconds,
- Use a glass dropper or teaspoon to place some of the liquid on your dog’s gums twice a day.
- Stir the liquid again before every dose.
- Make sure he doesn’t eat for 20 minutes before and after dosing.
- If your dog is really freaked out that you’re chasing him around with the spoon … you can put the pellets in his water bowl (stir well and use filtered water). This will work just as well. as long as you don’t have other dogs who use the same bowl.
Feed A Fiber Broth
Fiber broth acts like a colon cleanse and can help with your dog’s anal gland problems. The psyllium creates bulk to stimulate better muscle movement in the intestines. Phivo Christodoulou shared this great fiber broth recipe you can make at home.
Please read ALL the directions before feeding. It’s important to follow this recipe carefully. Psyllium husk sucks moisture out of the digestive tract … and can cause constipation if over-fed.
- 1 cup of bone broth
- 2 tbsp psyllium husks
- Heat bone broth and add psyllium husks
- Mix with a spoon until it’s a jelly-like consistency (should only take a few minutes)
- Allow mixture to cool
- Feed as a meal replacement every other meal for 1-2 days until stools are firmer or until you can confirm the anal glands have expressed
How Much To Feed Your Dog
Miniature or small breed dogs … 1/5 to 1/4 cup per meal
Medium to large breed dogs … ½ to ¾ cup per meal
Giant breed dogs … 1 cup per meal
In a pinch, you can also use water instead of bone broth. The bone broth is for extra nourishment. It also helps add flavor to encourage your dog to eat the broth. If your dog will drink a mixture made with water that’s fine too.
If your dog’s poops are still not large enough, you can slowly increase the amount of psyllium husk.
And there’s one more thing…
Supervise your dog during poop time while you’re feeding the fiber broth. This is gross, but some dogs may need help getting their poop out at first. If he’s having trouble, place your hand in a clean poop bag and pull the poop out. Your hands won’t get dirty so grit your teeth, hold your nose, and give your dog a hand if he needs it.
How To Prevent Anal Gland Problems In Your Dog
Now that you know how to solve your dog’s anal gland problems, here are some DOs and DON’Ts to prevent this from happening again down the road.
DON’T … Express Your Dog’s Anal Glands
Expressing your dog’s 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, tell them you don’t need this service.
Despite what they tell you, your dog shouldn’t need his anal glands expressed. All that repeated squeezing and pinching can cause more inflammation, swelling and injury. And regular expressing can make the anal glands dependent, which means they won’t work well on their own.
DO … Feed A Raw Diet
One of the most common causes of a dog’s anal gland problems is diet. Kibble diets cause mushy stools that don’t force the glands to empty.
Bones in the diet dissolve during the digestive process. This helps create those small firm poops raw feeders are so proud of!
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.
DO … Give Probiotics And Prebiotics
RELATED: When dogs need probiotics …
DO … Exercise Your Dog
Make sure your dog gets plenty of walks. Regular exercise strengthens his rectal and abdominal muscles. This gives your dog the strength to put more pressure on the anal glands. Exercise also helps stimulate bowel movements so your dog poops more often.
DO … Treat Allergies
Food allergies and sensitivities can be a common cause of your dog’s anal gland issues. You need to address his allergies, or he’ll have irritated anal glands. People often think of food as the culprit … but environmental allergies can also be at play. Work with your holistic vet to resolve your dog’s allergies.
Do You Need A Vet To Help With Anal Gland Problems?
If you feel you need veterinary help, it’s best to find a holistic veterinarian to help with your dog’s anal glands. She’ll understand this chronic disease and how to manage it. She’ll work with you on treatment plans that don’t include the conventional approaches of regular anal gland expressing …along with drugs, chemicals or surgery.
Keep in mind that anal gland disease in dogs is not a standalone diagnosis. View it as a red flag that your dog is toxic and needs a little help getting squeaky clean again. That’s the holistic view of anal gland problems.
I wish your dog a happy pooping experience. And remember that food IS medicine and don’t let anyone tell you different!
RELATED: How to detox your dog …
Tortola L, Brunetto M, Zaine L, Vasconcellos R. The use of psyllium to control constipation in dogs. Ciência Rural. 2009 Dec;39(9):2638-2641.