Tulsa World

Dealing with dog’s anal gland issues

- DR. MICHAEL FOX Animal Doctor Send all mail to animaldocf­ox@gmail. com or to Dr. Michael Fox in care of Andrews McMeel Syndicatio­n, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.

Dear Dr. Fox: Please tell me the best way for dogs to empty their anal glands without having a vet express them.

My dog is a 2 1/2-year-old border collie, and I assume his issue may be partially related to the type of food he eats. I took him to the vet knowing he wasn’t feeling well. The vet confirmed his painful upset stomach and also said that his anal glands were full, so she expressed them. Never said anything about a temperatur­e.

He was not any better the next day, so I took him back and saw a different vet. She took his temperatur­e and it was 104 degrees, and she prescribed antibiotic­s. It took almost six days for the fever to subside and two weeks longer to get his strength back. — M.W., Vinita, Oklahoma

Dear M.W.: We all know about skunks’ anal glands, which have evolved as weapons of defense to spray and confuse/disorient predators. Dogs also have anal glands, which may play a role in territoria­l marking and social communicat­ion by scent with other dogs passing by. Secretions from these glands coat the feces as the dog defecates.

Chronic anal gland and sac problems in dogs can have multiple causes. Having the sacs manually squeezed out periodical­ly can bring temporary relief when there is impaction (blocking of the duct), but can also cause some damage, inflammati­on and persistenc­e of the underlying problem. Dogs will often scoot to relieve the irritation, sometimes removing the blockage in the process. Often, the sacs empty where the dog is lying, leading to a stinky sofa or carpet. (The stains are best removed with enzyme cleaners like Nature’s Miracle.)

As you mentioned, anal gland and sac problems can be associated with food allergies and intoleranc­es, such as to corn, soy and beef, so you may want to look at the ingredient­s in your dog’s food. Often, the contents of manufactur­ed pet food are difficult to discern from the labels, so you may want to try my home-prepared dog food (posted on my website, drfoxonehe­alth.com).

Dogs need to be physically active, especially before and between meals (but not immediatel­y after). Less active dogs tend to have irregular bowel movements and are often constipate­d, which can interfere with the normal emptying of the anal sac contents when the dog defecates. Also, dog foods with low fiber content and/or high fat content can lead to chronicall­y loose stools, which do not help empty out the anal sac. Dogs need a good, semi-firm stool to do the job.

Chronic inflammato­ry bowel disease and other gut microbiome disorders can be coupled with impacted anal gland sacs. I therefore advise giving dogs 1 tablespoon per 30 to 40 pounds body weight of unsweetene­d shredded coconut in their food daily.

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