Updated: May 29
Being that I have personally had my fair share of anal gland explosions in the house.. I thought it was about time I tackled this topic and the myths that surround it.
My dog has had a smelly butt since the day I adopted her.
After many years of trial and error.. I finally have it under control. NO MORE DAILY LAUNDRY! WAHOO!!
I hope that pet owners who struggle with this same issue will find the hope and answers they need in this post.
Want to find out how I got to the bottom of the issue in just a few short months?
Let's get started!!
What are anal glands? And what is their purpose?
Anal glands are 2 small sacs (smaller than a grape) within the inside of the rectum, which secrete a VERY smelly fluid (usually during a bowel movement) to leave the animal's scent and mark territory.
These sacs will also express in times of fear or stress and may even squirt the smelly fluid to ward off danger. Yikes!
Dogs and cats both have anal glands.
So what's the big deal?
If these do not routinely express on their own, they can become filled, uncomfortable and even get infected and rupture. This is incredibly painful for the animal.
Signs that your pet may be having trouble with their anal glands:
Licking & scooting
Trouble passing stool
Biting at their tail
Blood or pus around their rectum or in stool
This is a very scary situation for pet owners. And I've been at the caring end of ruptured anal glands many times in the clinic.
An owner calls panicking because their dog's 'butt is bleeding'... I immediately assume it is probably a ruptured anal gland and would schedule them right away.
Conventional treatment for ruptured glands involves sedation of the animal, flushing the open wound, and a round of antibiotics for the infection.
Is there anything I can do at home to ease the problem?!
So, a few days ago I received a message about a dog who was having some problems with her anal glands.
The pet owner was asking if there are any available supplements for 'leaking' anal glands.
Plain and simple answer... No.
While there are some options on the market claiming to solve anal gland problems.. I have not personally seen any work.
In my opinion, they are a marketing gimmick.
Most contain things like pumpkin seed, psyllium husk, a single strain probiotic, etc.
Plus, a bunch of other additives.
Some veterinarians may recommend toxic prescription diets to solve the issue.
Plugged anal glands are more than just a lack of fiber.
Anal gland problems can arise for so many reasons.
The main claim to fame on the stinky issue is that the stool is too soft and they are not expressing routinely with bowel movements.
Increasing fiber is the typical go-to remedy of choice for many professionals to recommend.
Another main recommendation that really jerks my chain is routine anal gland expression. Sometimes, veterinarians (and groomers) are doing this MONTHLY.
Let me be brief to say this is incredibly inappropriate.
This type of care is:
Stressful for the animal
Dangerous. As it can create more inflammation, swelling, scar tissue and further injury to these delicate glands.
Some veterinarians will even go so far as to recommend complete removal of the anal glands to 'solve' the problem. This can cause several other issues including incontinence.
It's incredibly frustrating to know that with all the research and advancements in medical care today, the only 'answer' we often hear is to suppress or remove body parts/ functions.
Why don't we ask more questions?
What's causing this dysfunction in the body?
I call this a Web Of Illusions.
As you could imagine (if you've read my blog posts before), I see things a bit differently... Especially because I personally have dealt with this as a pet owner for many years (and MANY loads of laundry) before finding the solution for my own dog.
The truth? ....
Anal glands may not express properly because of:
Obesity and genetics can also play a role.
Read that list again.
Is there a magic supplement to fix ALL those issues?
So, what can pet owners do to solve the problem of this dreaded stench?!
Well, first off:
▶ Decrease inflammation in the body.
Swollen, impacted anal glands are a sign of inflammation. They cannot express properly. This can translate as a view point for the rest of the body. Where there is an isolated incident of inflammation in one area... There is likely more elsewhere.
▶ Examine the animal's history of toxin exposure.
This includes environmental toxins such as fertilizers on the lawn, perfume, scented candles, unfiltered water... All the way to medications and vaccines. Plugged anal glands are the epitome of toxin buildup. Again, infection.. Inflammation... The body is not filtering and releasing properly. Things are building up.. And eventually, they will explode.. Literally! *plugs nose*
▶ Add probiotics.
Probiotics aid in digestion and healthy bowel movements. A healthy gut also decreases inflammation and even 'digests' excess toxins in the body. A staple for all pets! Be sure you are using a reputable, high quality product with at least 40 million bacteria per serving of 10 different strains. Some popular products contain only 1-3 strains plus additives, flavorings, and fillers. I prefer raw goat's milk, but some pet owners will use fermented foods, kefir, or dried powders. Look for quality seals such as GMP Certification to guarantee safety, potency, and purity.
▶ Increase fiber (if needed)
Some pets could benefit from added fiber if the issue is a soft stool. I prefer to use plain organic pumpkin. You can get this in dehydrated form, or in a can.
▶ Potentially do a gentle detox.
Detoxing a pet can only SAFELY be done once all the above mentioned is complete and the animal is in a healthy state. Detoxing a sick, malnourished or inflamed pet will only cause more problems.
▶ Use herbs & essential oils.
I used a homemade essential oil blend for this route of care (topically on the area) along with witch hazel (natural astringent). However some herbal blends are made for internal use.
▶ Get an animal chiropractor involved.
The biggest success for my dog was implementing chiropractic care. When nerves get pinched, certain organs, joints and other areas of the body cannot communicate and work effectively. This creates energy blockages and stagnation.
Why recommend such a lengthy process for such a seemingly small problem?
A) I know first had that this works.
Dysfunction in the body begins and ends with nutrition, spinal alignment and gut health... Many diseases are created solely out of an abundance of inflammation stored in the body.
Herbs, essential oils and probiotics give the body a little natural body the get things moving, cleansed, and back on track.
Chiropractic care has long history of treating such a wide variety of problems via gentle correction of the nervous system and body as a whole (My dog has also had incredible results for urinary incontinence with chiropractic care).
Everything I have listed in this post, is stuff that I've implemented in various steps with my dog's health regimen.
Over just a few months, the leakage and plugged anal glands stopped!
Yep, it's glorious!
So... The next time you want to run to the pet store for a quick remedy... Re-evaluate the problem at hand.
Is their a deeper issue that needs resolving..?
Or is this an isolated incident..?
Chances are... You may need to implement a few measures for Whole Body Wellness.
A individualized approach to care is so crucial to success in creating a well-rounded plan for regaining balance and Harmony within the body.
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