View Full Version : Dogs and anal glands - anyone with info?!

June 3rd, 2015, 10:17 AM
I posted a bored thread yesterday and mentioned that my dog's anal glands had to be expressed and some people had opinions on whether or not the glands should be expressed. I'm curious to know more about this because this is the first time I've had a dog where this was an issue...well the second as my wee Yorkie had the same thing. I have read that expressing them regularly can cause them to become weak and to not function properly so that you will now have no choice but to empty them regularly. I've also been told and read that you should never allow a groomer to perform this service for you.

I am feeding a high quality grain free food (does not contain corn, potato, oatmeal, wheat, rice or soy as far as I can recall) and the dog's stool seems to be of a good consistency and not overly frequent which means not a lot of waste. He is a cockapoo. About three weeks before I moved, one of his glands became impacted. He had been dragging his butt on the floor and I just thought well it's itchy that's what dogs do sometimes...gross I know but it is what it is. Anyway, it got impacted and cost me $250 in vet bills and meds. What a pain...well...in the rear!

So I've been told, and my research has backed this, that this is common in small breed dogs, especially "purebred" dogs (although I have a difficult time calling a cockapoo or anything-a-poo a purebred). I have had dogs my entire life...my last two (border collie X and a Burnese/Aus Shep X) died at 13 years of age and never once did I have issues with impacted anal glands and their food was not as good as the food that Otis is on now.

I get very frustrated with pet foods today. It's impossible to make a good decision on food since nothing is really well regulated and everyone has an opinion on what is a great diet for dogs and what is not. Everything I am reading clearly indicates that it's the food that I am feeding that is causing this issue so back to the drawing board!

For those with dogs: What do you feed your dogs? What kind of dog(s)? Big dog(s) or small? How often do you feed? Does your dog or do your dogs have anal gland issues? Have your dogs had this issue and it just went away?

When I was there yesterday the technician that did the expression said, "Oh yes, they definitely needed to be done". Otis had not pooped in two days. I find this a very frustrating issue since everything I read says to leave the anal glands alone...expressing is only going to cause more issues...and yet I'm paranoid now about them becoming impacted! uhg.

Amy R
June 3rd, 2015, 10:27 AM
When dogs were wild and ate bones etc from animals they killed the anal glands weren't a problem.

It does happen in some dogs (and even some cats). Sometimes to the point where the pet needs them removed.

Since Otis has had impacted anal glands and has issues with pooping they may need to be done regularly.
You can try to give him some metamucil (no sugar one) about a teaspoon at a time and depending on how large he is up to a couple tablespoons a day. This bulks up the stool to help stimulate the gland to empty on the stool's way out of the body.

Of course you don't want to bulk him too fast if you pm me the size I can help you measure things out if you wish to start this.

I was a licensed vet tech for 11 years, and have seen lots of these issues, feeling confident and competent to offer this advice.
People saying dogs should never need this is an opinion that may not be helpful when your dog is having issues with anal glands severe enough to hold stool in.

Sylvia H
June 3rd, 2015, 10:37 AM
I think you are correct that the higher quality of food, the less waste is eliminated. You can check on Dog Food Reviews and Ratings | Dog Food Advisor (http://www.dogfoodadvisor.com) about the quality of both dog and cat food. It is my understanding that the process of elimination is what expresses the anal glands naturally. So if this is true, and your pup isn't pooping, those glands are not getting expressed. My dog usually goes 2Xs a day, and usually almost immediately after eating. Dogs do not have a long digestive system like humans do, so it is input results in quick output! And I think you are correct that if you start expressing them, it will create the problem that you will continue to have to do so.

My first rottweiler did have an impacted anal gland, once. It was treated, and there were no further problems. My current dog is 7 years old, and he has never had that problem. There may be something to the theory that it is more prevalent in small dogs. Most of the dogs I know who had this problem were smaller dogs. (And yes, a cockapoo is not a purebred, but they are very cute!)

I have fed my dog a variety of foods. I actually started him on a raw prey diet. Then I went to Wellness, Annamaet grain free (it is produced in my area), and I am now switching him between Origen and Merrick. BTW, Merrick recently came out with a grain free that also included dehydrated raw. I tried it, but it seems to have hardened the stools too much, so I will go back to the regular Merrick grain free.

June 3rd, 2015, 10:42 AM
Ok, leave it to me to know something about poopy issues too. :D
Impacted glands, as you found out, can cause a multitude of issues.
While I'm not up on the latest research, and none of my dogs ever had much of an issue with it, it's a real problem and a common one.
As a former vet tech I can concur that it is more prevalent in the smaller dogs and breeds. Do not even ask me how many glands I have expressed, and while generally I would not recommend a groomer to express them, some groomers may be proficient at it, so should not be discount automatically.
At the time I was a VT, there was not a link between food and "worse" glands per se, however it may be different these days. Really, the best thing to do is talk with your vet or a tech at your dog's vet clinic about your concerns. Usually, most established clients are able to call in their general questions and get responses. You should not have to make an appointment to get an answer or some information.

You may not get an answer right away, as most vets overbook appointments and leave little time for phone calls unless it's an urgent issue, but keep trying. And depending on how your vet(s) run their clinic (are the techs just glorified weight and temp takers...or do they actually do a lot with the animals themselves) ....you may end up talking with a knowledgeable tech who could answer your questions. :icon_bigsmile:

June 3rd, 2015, 10:43 AM
I know as a pet parent you want to do what is best for your darling. Wish they could tell us what they need! I have a rescue cocker who was very malnourished when I got him from the county kennel. Then as I was restoring him to health his allergy problems emerged. I worked with my vet to identify a food that seemed to cut down on the itching and ear infection problems. But the vet warned me that in addition to scouring every ingredient label to make sure I wasn't feeding any grain, that some dogs do better if their foods are in rotation. That is, changing the main protein in their diet at intervals. It helps their gut health by changing the flora in the gut - like people's gut health problems, you know. So that is something you might try. I've heard that some dogs don't do as well on a diet with chicken as opposed to beef, bison, salmon or lamb. I had a whippet a while back that could only eat lamb and rice food! Talk about a skinny dog! I have a friend whose golden retriever has had lots of problems like you describe. She started adding a very small amount of psyllium powder (fiber) to a premium canned food and mixed it with the kibbles. That solved the problem for her. Hope that gives you a few places to start your research. Do you have holistic vets where you live? That might be an option to try for a different approach to your furbaby's problem.

June 3rd, 2015, 10:47 AM
We feed our dog Diamond Naturals Lamb and Rice formula dry food. She is a Redbone Coonhound/Blue Heeler mix, and is about 45 pounds. She eats 2 cups of food daily, about 12 hours apart. She 'goes' twice a day, most days, and has never had issues with anal glands. She will be 5 later this month.

June 3rd, 2015, 10:55 AM
I have a female Cairn - so no need for expressing anything - well hopefully - I've only had issues with male dogs needing this (and their food was crappy - I know better now) ;)
As far as food, I have been feeding Ella Taste of the Wild for almost the entire time I've had her. I was feeding kibble only, but recently started adding just a tablespoon or two of wet food (also Taste of the Wild) with the dry. She gets 1/2 cup in the morning and 1/2 cup at dinner time. Her coat is beautiful, and she just had a vet visit, where she was deemed to be in perfect health :).
There are so many choices - I was overwhelmed by options! I looked into a few of the 'better' labels that had good reviews, and it's working for us so we'll stick with it.
Sylvia, thanks for the link :)

June 3rd, 2015, 11:36 AM
Thanks folks! Am going to try switching his food to something with a little bit of a different protein. Had a few recommendations from a friend who has dachshunds. Will also consider the metamucil additive.

June 3rd, 2015, 12:01 PM
Unfortunately no easy answers and since they were impacted they may not ever return to normal again and if the dog does not go every day they are more likely to build up and then need to be expressed and that is Need for the dogs sake. You can certainly try and change foods to see if they help but a food change takes about 12 weeks before you know full results. I have a food allergy golden and it took a year of food allergy trials to find a food that worked for her. She is allergic to chicken and most foods use some form of it even if they are stating rabbit or duck.

You have gotten some great advise here. Talk with your vet and make slow changes you can try and feed more often in a day to help the food move along and add some filler treats. Filler treats are low calorie fiber filled. Carrots canned unsalted green beans, and canned pure pumpkin (No spices) I have one golden who sometimes has a bit of trouble with her glands so I treat her using carrots as a fiber source and that keeps her glands in check. She is on a great food but the vet has told me her glands are just not as active as they should be so they don't quite get everything out when she goes.

June 3rd, 2015, 12:44 PM
Wendy.......our little dog had to have that done once. She had been trying to drag her behind on the floor before that & seemed a little uncomfortable pooping. The vet took care of it......only took a minute or two.........that's why we pay them the big bucks. :D Our pup has only had the problem once that I can remember. She is about 10 years old.

June 3rd, 2015, 01:15 PM
Lots of great advice..
I feed both my lab and dachshund a grain free, no wheat, no corn, no soy organic dry food. I also add about 1-2 tbs of wet with it. They both get fed twice a day about 8-10 hrs. apart. Every once in a while my lab has either harder stools or soft stools so I add a little "pure" pumpkin to his food. It works like a probiotic and regulates their stools...and they love it. I'm no expert so I asked the advice of my vet and it has worked great and I only give it to them maybe once or twice a week unless there is a problem. I was also told that sometimes they don't drink as much water as they should which can also cause issues. Both of my fur babies have regular checkups at the vet and always get an "A" on their health, weight and appearance.
Something to remember too....each dog is different and may take some time before you find what works for them best...Good Luck..I know it can't be fun dealing with a constipated dog.

June 3rd, 2015, 01:25 PM
Our lab (1 1/2 years) has had to have this done twice. Our vet said it wasn't directly related to his food (we feed Iams). It's only a problem in male dogs and it's something a particular dog may tend to be prone to. I asked about changing his food or adding something to it, but since it's not a chronic problem (only twice), he didn't suggest we make any changes. I've also heard advice to change food or to express regularly, but we've decided to have it done at the vet when needed. I trust the vet more than the groomer on this. Also, we've been offered the opportunity to learn how to do this ourselves. But this falls under the "I'd rather pay someone to do it" category.

June 3rd, 2015, 01:37 PM
not had problems with mine except have to keep on grain free diet or he breaks out in hives , show up like crazy on his white tummy will watch for this however have not noticed any problems and he is pure bred Boston.
this thread was interesting as I learned something new. Thanks

June 3rd, 2015, 01:39 PM
My little Shih Tzu had her gland abscess and burst, so this problem is not to be taken lightly. Once it was healed which took sometime, I now watch her very carefully. My Vet advised me to add more fiber like pumpkin to her food which may help. I now take her once a month to the Vet to have her gland expressed. I'm a little nervous to take on the task myself, but one could certainly learn how to do it without a trip to the Vet.

June 3rd, 2015, 02:11 PM
Oh boy - all this talk about pumpkin reminded me of the time when the terrier we used to have got hold of 1/2 a loaf of pumpkin bread... I was so scared for him. He must have had the worst tummy ache ever - dragging his hind legs around and not moving for an entire day, except to go to the bathroom... which was not pretty... ugh.

June 3rd, 2015, 07:55 PM
I have found that it helps to offer a little cooked veggie, such as green beans and carrots. My Chow likes spinach too The fiber in the veggies helps keep things moving along. (Ps. dogs eat grass for very good reasons)

June 3rd, 2015, 10:11 PM
We feed Yoda All Stage Canidea. It is a hard food w/no grain, corn, etc.... The vet told us years ago if you feed them a high quality dry food, when they poop the anal glans automatically will do what they are supposed to do, which is to provide a lubricant for the poop to leave the dogs poop shoot. (I can't believe I'm typing this crap!!) Anyway, we have never had to have that procedure done and when he goes to the groomer, I request to not have it done and they are always happy!!

When we had to care for our daughters dog for a couple years, we switched her to this same food. She is a pit bull and even being as large of a dog as she is, because of the quality of this food, she only need two cups of it per day. When she first came to our house, you could look at her and see her hair flying off her body! She looked like Pig Pen it was so bad. After a month or so, her coat was so improved that the shedding stopped. She is still on this food after going back to our daughters and is fit as a fiddle!

We did have a cairn, Cooper, and before switching to this food, he would get a hot spot on his head every so often where he would go bald. After switching, that all stopped. The company that makes this food has a program that for every ten or twelve bags you buy you get one free. It is about $65 for a huge bag, but I only buy three a year at most.

June 3rd, 2015, 10:23 PM
I am glad you posted this, I too saw your earlier post and had heard of it but never looked into it. Very informative. But the darndest threads show up here. If you were just a passerby you would laugh at the title of the thread, and then out of curiousity read the whole thing LOL.:D