“Butt scooting” and bad smells are signs of an anal gland impaction or infection. Here is one dog guardian’s natural approach to solving the issue.
I had never wanted to find out firsthand what anal gland issues actually were, but when Wally turned two, I was introduced to them whether I liked it or not. For the next two years, we went back and forth to the vet for treatments for repeated infections. Vet bills accumulated for oral antibiotics; a procedure in which Wally’s anal glands were flushed with a sterile solution and medicated with topical antibiotics; assistance with expressing his anal glands every two weeks; and a lot of dietary advice.
The treatments only worked temporarily, and Wally was starting to act depressed. He loves to sleep burrowed under the blankets, but until we could get the spontaneous anal gland leakage under control, it wasn’t feasible for poor, smelly Wally to get in the bed with me.
I did a lot of my own research, and surgical removal of the anal glands kept coming up as an option. However, the surgery can be risky due to the high levels of bacteria in the anal area. I didn’t want to try something that extreme when I suspected there was an underlying issue that could be resolved less drastically. After speaking with my veterinarian again about Wally’s dietary habits, I chose to take a more natural approach.
1. Weight loss
The first thing my vet advised was to get Wally’s weight down by five pounds. Not only are overweight dogs more likely to experience anal gland troubles, but the extra weight can lead to back problems in the dachshund breed, since they have such long and vulnerable spines.
I cut back on Wally’s slightly generous meals and walked him more frequently for exercise. He was soon at a healthy weight again, but there was no immediate change in his anal gland problem.
2. Probiotics and digestive enzymes
Wally’s stools weren’t firm enough to express his anal glands, so it was recommended that I give him a canine probiotic supplement every day for a couple of weeks to fortify his natural gut flora and help bulk up his stool.
After finishing the initial probiotic supply, I decided to start him on a digestive enzyme supplement containing protease, amylase, lipase and cellulase for additional support, which I still continue to administer.
3. Diet changes
A food allergy or sensitivity wasn’t something I considered until a veterinary technician mentioned that Wally’s loose stool could be a sign that he’s sensitive to the chicken protein in his food. As a trial, I slowly transitioned him to a different food, with high quality proteins from salmon and herring.
Wally seems to enjoy his dinners more and even stopped visiting the cat’s food dish for seconds, a bad habit that was perhaps partly to blame for his loose bowel movements.
Not only does Wally have a weak spot for cat food, he is also notorious for running around like a vacuum, sucking up fallen human food, grabbing pieces of bread the neighbor left out for the squirrels, and inhaling scattered bird seed on the patio. These days he is under a strict watch and doesn’t get into any extraneous foods that could throw off his regular bowel movements or result in diarrhea.
4. More fiber
Increasing Wally’s fiber intake drastically improved his fecal quality. I replaced the fattening soft treats I was giving him with dehydrated sweet potato. Sometimes I will add pumpkin to his dinner, or give him raw vegetable stumps to chew on. Other high fiber options include oatmeal, fruit and quinoa.
5. Increased water intake
We know how important hydration is for our own well-being, but how much water our dogs drink in a day is something that can easily escape our attention. As I kept a closer eye on Wally’s habits, I noticed he rarely visited the water dish and I thought maybe dehydration was contributing to his problem.
Stubbornness is a classic trait in dachshunds, and trying to encourage Wally to do anything is next to impossible. “Drinky, drinky,” I’d say like a fool, twirling my finger around in the water dish for ten unresponsive minutes. I now trick him into drinking more by adding water to his food in the mornings and evenings. He isn’t opposed to drinking the water first if it means he gets to guzzle down his dinner after.
The result of implementing all these changes? Wally still needs his anal glands expressed occasionally, but has been “stink free” for almost a year now. It’s wonderful to have found a natural solution that works for him, although I have learned I have to be consistent with it. Wally looks more handsome, has his energy back, and best of all, is allowed back up on the bed!
A natural supplement
If your dog is having anal gland problems, consider a natural supplement such as Glandex. This US-made product was formulated by veterinarians to specifically address these problems. It contains all-natural ingredients that work from the inside out to support healthy anal glands.
Glandex (glandex.com) provides a precise amount of fiber to help bulk and firm the dog’s stool so the anal glands are naturally emptied whenever he defecates. It also contains natural anti-inflammatories that target the underlying inflammation and allergies that typically lead to anal gland problems. The active ingredients include pumpkin seed, apple pectin, quercetin, bromelain and probiotics. The product comes as a palatable chew treat or in a powder that you add to your dog’s food.