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Chronic Anal Gland Problems

Question:

I have a small poodle mix who just turned 3. Her anal sacs have become such a problem I have to take her to the vet every 3 weeks to get them squeezed. The vet says that food is not an issue, but I have seen articles that say it is. What food or remedies should I use to help this problem? The vet mentioned surgery, but I would like to avoid that if at all possible.

Answer:

Anal sacs, or glands, are a pair of small scent glands on either side of a dog's anus just under the tail. They contain a very strong-smelling fluid that is said to be used for marking territory. In domestic dogs these glands can become impacted, where the gland becomes too full, or abscesses involving an infection in the gland. Dogs with impacted anal glands will often "scoot" across the floor in an attempt to relieve the pressure. 

Diet is often a major factor in anal gland problems. Please read our article, "What You Need to Know About Your Pet's Food," for some guidelines about a healthy diet. Basically, the fresher the food the better. Raw is best, then home-cooked, then dehydrated or freeze-dried, then HIGH QUALITY canned, and lastly dry kibble - again, high quality is essential. Adding freshly ground or lightly steamed vegetables to the diet can be helpful for anal gland problems to help bulk up the stool.  Any of the foods from Solid Gold, Canidae, Natural Balance or most any of the others that we carry would be good choices for your poodle mix.

Digestive enzymes and probiotics can also be helpful for reducing anal gland issues. Most holistic veterinarians recommend using digestive enzymes whenever feeding processed (dry kibble or canned) or cooked food. In addition, I recommend an essential fatty acid supplement to help reduce inflammation, aid the immune system and keep the gastrointestinal system and skin healthy.  

Exercise and constipation also contribute to anal gland problems. Overweight animals are more prone to anal gland problems. Proper exercise helps stimulate the digestive system and bowels and improves health in so many ways. Animals that are not allowed outdoors often enough tend to hold their urine and stools for too long, causing both emotional and physical stress. For those guardians who are gone to work all day with no way to return mid-day, I always recommend finding a dog-walking service or hiring a young neighbor to get their companions out of the house during the day.

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The articles and information in the Holistic Healthcare Library are presented for informational purposes only and are not intended as an endorsement of any product. The information is not intended to be a substitute for visits to your local veterinarian. Instead, the content offers the reader information and opinions written by our staff, guest authors, and/or veterinarians concerning animal health issues and animal care products.

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