Monday, November 14, 2016

Anal Gland problems in Dogs and Cats - the Annoying Bum Scooting

Once upon a time, there was a dog called Spot.  Spot is a gorgeous happy Pug who just loves his mum and his Nan.

He (sort of) loves his vet too. His vet is me, and I am Dr Liz.
No, this isn't Spot. This is Spot's body double (although not a Pug). Spot was too shy to show his face (or bottom).

He really loves me when I don't need to do anything to his bottom - after all, we now have the infrared temperature thingo (we just point it at the gums and we get a temp).

He knows as well as I do that I do not like to go near the bums of animals - it really does not do anything for me at all.

He (sort of) loves me when I have to see him because he has started scooting again.

You see, Spot has anal gland problems, which means that he needs to visit me on a regular basis (usually 6-8 weeks) to have them "cleaned out".

He knows "Dr Liz's rules - I do something yuck, I do something nice".  This means I give lots of yummy home made liver treats at the front end whilst I am expressing the anal glands at the other end.

Cleaning anal glands is a "Dirty Job", although I have never seen it featured on the TV show!  It should be!

Another cute puppy photo - toy breeds often need anal gland support.
As a vet who loves animals, I am constantly looking into things or ways to help my animal friends, whether it be with the latest in technology, medications, therapies, or nutritional support products.

When it comes to anal glands, things are no different.

But let's get back to the beginning....

What are Anal Glands?  The short version is that they are a pair of tear shaped glands with a narrow duct which opens on either side of the anus (the duct opening is at 3 and 9 o'clock if you look at the bum front on).

What do they do?  Well, there are many theories.  In cats, the information it contains depends on the situation the cat is in - it is commonly released in fear, and is a common warning signal of "danger" to other cats.  In dogs, they are expressed in fear, but it is theorised that their purpose is as a source of information to other dog and "non dog" animals. 

What information they want to share is up for debate, but I suspect it is about territory and ownership.

Why do some pets get problems and not others? Why are toy breeds more likely to have anal gland problems compared to the giant breeds?  Why do pets improve if their allergies are managed better?

It is believed that with pets with allergic skin disease, the allergies causes swelling of the ducts, narrowing it even further, making it very difficult for the muscles around the anal glands to squeeze the material out during toileting.

It is believed that in some toy breeds, the anatomy in the area makes it very difficult to for the anal glands to empty (some vets remove anal glands for that reason).

A cute puppy is much better looking than anal glands.
It is also possible that toy breeds are bred to be more "baby like", and therefore never master the need to empty those anal sacs to mark their territory. Or, it could be that their diet is not as fibre rich as it should be, so those anal muscles do not get the exercise.

 What can be done to help? 
There are many published and anecdotal strategies.
NEW for 2016  at Russell Vale vets - Glandex
1. Improving the quality and type of fibre in your pet's diet

2. Regular vet checks to ensure that your pet's anal glands need emptying

3. Hypoallergenic diet (food allergies have been implicated in some dogs)

4. Short course of prescription medication to reduce inflammation

5. Probiotics - to improve digestive health

Next time I see Spot, I am going to share with him some great news about a yummy chew that combines 1 and 4, with a natural antiinflammatory, which I am sure is going to give him peace.

I am Dr Liz, the mad vet from Bellambi, and Anal Gland Expressor Extraordinare.

As for those who are thankful that I didn't write about Piper again, sadly, she also did suffer from anal gland problems as a puppy.

Yes, she is the gift that keeps on giving!

We were able to solve her problem through the strategies listed above.