If your dog has ever had impacted anal glands, you know the smell is awful; but do you know why it happens or why having the vet express them can make matters worse? You should.
Dog anal glands are small sac-like glands on either side of the anus which secretes their particular scent. These glands are probably what dogs are smelling when they sniff each others behinds. They are used along with urine to mark territory and are designed to empty naturally during defecation.
When they don't empty naturally, it can hurt. Your dog may drag his butt along the floor trying to express it himself or sit gingerly off to the side to avoid pressure when they become impacted or inflamed.
The poor diet of dogs who eat commercial pet food has much to do with the impaction and infection of these tiny glands. Lacking nutrients and fiber contribute to the problem while expressing manually may contribute as well.
Because the vet will empty these glands completely to make the dog more comfortable, he may be creating more of a problem. Why? Nature did not mean for them to be empty. By forcing a complete evacuation of the glands, it signals the body to fill them again and a vicious cycle begins.
Your dog stinks. You give him a bath and he still smells. Ah, you realize it's time to take him to the vet for another squeeze. In some cases the vet may suggest surgery to remove the glands.
If you are considering surgery, here's what you should know:
Before you opt for surgery, consider changing your dog's diet. There are many helpful pages here at Three Little Pitties. Browse around using the search this site page I created for you or jump to my favorite. Switching my dogs to a raw dog food diet has changed all our lives for the better and here's a few free recipes.
If raw isn't something you will consider you can add more fiber or whole grains to bulk up the stool and put more pressure on the bowels when pooping. (If you're not sure if you are feeding a healthy diet, check out the page on Dog Nutrition.)
If your vet has to express these glands, ask him to put a small amount of Panalog into the anal sac afterward. It's an antibiotic and cortisone ointment for the ear, but it works. If you are one of my regular readers, you know I never encourage the use of either antibiotics or cortisone but in this instance so little is absorbed into the body, it will have no side effects and keep infection at bay.