When I am in a dog park or on the street and see a dog, it only takes two seconds for me to recognize a kibble fed dog from the one that eats raw or cooked wholesome food.
I often catch myself struggling between...
One would think that most vets learn about anal glands in vet school. This was not true in my case. It was our dachshund Gerda who initiated me in the less pleasant part of living with a dog. Dachshunds are very passionate when it comes to tracking and they love being in the forest.
I remember taking Gerda to our cottage near the German border for the first time. I remember that all of us, the 4 kids, wanted to have her on our lap. For some reason, Gerda ended up sitting on me, looking out of the window with excitement. Suddenly a deer crossed the road right in front of the car and…. The whole car was filled with smell rotten fish, eggs and a can of anchovies. Yes, Gerda emptied her anal glands right on my lap.
This is how I learned that dogs had anal glands.
Anal glands are little sacs that are located on either side of the anus with their openings at 9 and 3 o’clock. They are scent glands that have two functions:
I see anal glands as the body’s garbage bin that empties automatically when they function well.
Anal glands are to dogs what skin glands are to people. If you smell the pungent anal gland smell once in a while, your dog is happy, not licking and has no other symptoms, it is likely just a sign normal anal gland function. There is no need to rush to the vet or a groomer to have them squeezed. The fishy smell once in a while is a part of the normal cleansing process.
However, if your dog is not comfortable, if her or she is licking and there is obvious inflammation and redness around the anus, your dog may have a problem.
There are several kinds of anal gland issues that dogs suffer from
Here are the main factors that cause anal gland issues:
As in the case of many eye and ear problems, anal glands problems too are the ‘red light’ signal that something in the body is going on.
Conventional treatment often focuses mainly on the issue locally – expressing the content, possibly a flush, antibiotics or surgery. However, this approach doesn’t address most of the causes mentioned above and the problem usually reoccurs.
I am glad that many people now know that processed pet food should be avoided. Such food taxes the liver and but also increases general toxic levels. The anal glands play an important role in the detox process of the body and when toxic burden is high, they often become inflamed. If you have a dog with chronic anal gland problems, I suggest running a HairQ test to see what your dog's levels of arsenic, lead and mercury are. You will also get an idea about your dog's endocrine balance and and any mineral deficiencies or excess.
In general good anal gland function requires harder stool. In nature, dogs eat bones which makes stools harder. If the stool is firm, every time a dog has bowel movement, the anal glands get massaged and emptied which is as it should be.
People are sometimes concerned about ‘too hard stool’ but it is quite normal in most dogs fed raw bones. Raw bones are fully digestible. Poultry bones and the bones of animals up to the size of sheep or deer are ideal. For more information on what bones to feed, click here
Never feed cooked bones as they are NOT digestible or large beef bones (raw or cooked) as they often cause tooth fractures.
Processed food related obesity makes anal glands ‘sink’ in the fat tissue and the emptying processed can be diminished. No matter which way you take it, processed food is simply not good for anyone. If you wish to get raw natural diet recipe - you can get it for free by joining our community here
It is very common that people are recommended to get their dog’s anal glands emptied. Some vets and groomers simply believe that expressing them will prevent them from filling up. The more you squeeze, the more they fill up. It is much better to allow anal glands to empty naturally. To be safe, a semiannual physical exam is ideal. Most dogs would be either scooting their bum on the ground, licking under the tail or will present with swelling around the anus if there is a problem.
It may be a surprise to you but many high performance dogs and also dogs with lumbo-sacral injuries suffer from anal gland problems.
The lumbo-sacral area supplies the nerve and energy flow to the anus and anal glands. The muscles become tight, the nerve flow decreases and the anal gland tone is diminished. That is why some seemingly healthy but very active dogs on raw diet continue having anal gland issues.
Doing less sprinting, frisbee and ball retrieving and engaging in more varied exercise often does the trick. I also recommend routine physio or chiro visits to address potential injuries before they become chronic.
With the exception of tumors and anal gland abscesses, in most cases there is no need to reach for such drastic measures and cause your dog pain. Anal gland amputation also severely affects the body’s detox cycle and affects the who body. Never let anyone convince you that your dog's health problems will get better by removing anal glands because they will likely get worse.
Removing them is like removing all trash bins from your home. It would not be long before the home (the body), would become a mess.
Large swelling, redness, frequent licking or lethargy may be a sign an anal gland abscess. In such cases veterinary care is usually needed.
If you do not take all the steps described in this article the healing process may be slower and sometimes complicated. Make sure that your veterinarian examines your dogs anal area properly to rule out the slight possibility of tumours.
If a tumour is found, ensure that a proper histology examination is done. I have seen some vets mistaking perianal gland tumours which are related to very small glands around the anus. These glands are not anatomically related to the actual anal glands. Never agree to a surgery without a proper diagnosis by taking a sample by a needle or do a biopsy.
A large majority of dogs do very well and their problems resolve with the use of the following plan
STEP A Specific for treatment of anal glands:
STEP B Essential supplements of minerals, vitamins, omega oils and other nutrients.
You can start these supplements gradually over a period of 1 - 2 weeks. If your dog is picky, mix these products in yoghurt or something that he or she likes. All the above products are food based, all natural supplements of top quality and have been used by many of our customer.