Reader Question: Fritz is a 10 year old Pomeranian mix. He has developed quite a problem with his anal sacs and I have to get them expressed every 3-4 weeks. The vet says food is not an issue, but some people say it can be. I know that surgery is an option, but I would really like to avoid that. What do you recommend?
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 can most definitely influence anal gland problems. The fresher and healthier the diet, the healthier the pet. Adding freshly ground or lightly steamed vegetables to the diet can be helpful for anal gland problems to help bulk up the stool. While not everyone is prepared to make pet food at home or feed a raw diet, anyone can improve their pet’s diet by including some fresh foods in place of canned or kibble. Feeding Freeze Dried or Dehydrated Foods for some meals is another good way to increase nutrition and decrease the amount of highly processed kibble or canned food in your pet’s diet.
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.
Adding an essential fatty acid supplement such as fish oil is aslo recommended as it helps reduce inflammation, aid the immune system and keep the gastrointestinal system and skin healthy. Essential fatty acids can also help reduce constipation – which contributes to anal gland issues.
Exercise is essential. Overweight animals are more prone to anal gland problems. Proper exercise helps stimulate the digestive system and bowels and improves health in a multitude of 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 that are gone to work all day with no way to return mid-day, I always recommend finding a doggy daycare, dog walking service or hiring a young neighbor to get their companions out of the house during the day.
Try these remedies for a month and I would be willing to bet Fritz’s anal glands will be less of an issue. And don’t have the glands expressed unless they need it – expressing anal glands too frequently when they are not full contributes to the problem.