View Full Version : Vets & Anal Glands

22nd March 2007, 12:26 PM
I've noticed many people on this forum have spoken of the vets draining their dog's anal glands.

So what is the story on this? Are the vets just doing this as some sort of routine thing, or is there a high incidence of anal gland problems with CKCS?

It is just that I have had multiple dogs for all of my 54 years, and (touch wood 3 times) I have never had the vets go anywhere near my dogs anal glands, nor have they needed too.

Intrigued! icon_nwunsure

22nd March 2007, 12:32 PM
or is there a high incidence of anal gland problems with CKCS?

It seems to be something like that doesn't it...like you and owning different breeds I have never had the problem with the others either.


22nd March 2007, 12:41 PM
I read in "Your Happy Health Pet: Cavalier King Charles Spaniel" by Norma Moffat, that scooting is a breed trait & does not necessarily indicate anal gland problems. I wonder if some vets are expressing the anal glands just because people are saying "my dog scoots"???

22nd March 2007, 12:46 PM
The Vet said to me that small dogs suffer particularly with Anal Gland problems.

Marlon has done the Cavalier 'Scoot' bum wipe from about 9 weeks old.

Having read that 'solid poo's' clean the anal gland I thought there was nothing to worry about, but the vet said that its best when the start 'scooting' more often than not to bring them in for the gland to be milked.

Marlons was very full yesterday, I dont think I will leave it that long again.
He didnt really like and yelped quite a lot.

I believe you can milk the gland yourself but its something I am quite happy to leave to the experts.

22nd March 2007, 01:27 PM
It does seem to be a higher incident with CKCS. My Lhasa in 13 years never had her's expressed. Don't remember my Old English having it done either. Lily has already had her's done twice and she is only 7 mos old. Whether she needed it or the Vet decided she needed it when I told him she scoots, who knows.

22nd March 2007, 01:48 PM
I dont think it does them any harm.

Marlon looked extremely happy after his first poo after having it done.
I think it was quite a relief for him.

He ran round the garden like a maniac for 5 mins !

22nd March 2007, 02:17 PM
Our Charley had trouble with his anal glands that wasn't corrected by
"solid poops".

They would get inflamed, infected, etc. and eventually had to be removed.

That was a very nasty op, took him a long time to recover.

We were told that some dogs have problems and others don't .... just bad luck on his part.

Sure hope we don't have to deal with that op ever again! :)

22nd March 2007, 02:49 PM
I haven't had a problem with either of mine so far.

I was told that if there is no problem then leave it because once you start it's really difficult to start.

To be honest I had never even heard of vets touching anal glands in all of my years (I didn't even know they existed! :yikes ) until I came to this board.

Both of mine scoot and they seem to be fine :flwr:

22nd March 2007, 03:50 PM
I'd never heard about this problem either, until I started reading up on Cavaliers. Like Shay, our prior dog was a Lhasa and in all the years we had him, he never had an anal gland problem.

So far, my two haven't either (knock wood), but if one or the other of them starts to scoot, I'll take them in.

I've also read that some groomers will do this as a matter of course!

22nd March 2007, 03:56 PM
Yes a local groomer has told me that she will do it, if Marlon needs it done again.

22nd March 2007, 04:38 PM
Harvey never ever scoots but his anal glands were full twice last year. Alfie has one side which has to be done approx every 3 months. The vet explained that probably one gland is slightly offside so when he poos it does not get expressed as it should. The other side is usually empty. My vet does not charge extra for this and as its not a very nice job I believe it must need doing. She has offered to show me how to do it!! I think I might leave that to the expert. We dont make a special trip to the vet for this they just check when we are there for vaccinations etc. The vet mentioned its not just cavaliers who suffer with it but most types of spaniels.

Barb B
22nd March 2007, 05:58 PM
Star had her anal glands expressed at 12 weeks; the vet said they were full. She had been quite a scooter, and the vet recommended feeding her pumpkin and carrots. Of course, I had read about that on this site, but wasn't sure if she was too young.

Anyway, she gets 1 tsp. of pumpkin and 1 or 2 baby carrots a day, and her scooting has just about disappeared. Hope it stays that way!

Our vet also said it was typical of Cavaliers to have problems with anal glands (or maybe she just said spaniels, like the post above, I don't remember exactly). :flwr:

22nd March 2007, 06:10 PM
Scooting is definitely a breed trait and not always related to anal glands. All of mine scoot including Jaspar. Sometimes increased scooting is seen in SM dogs but this would be alongside other typical symptoms and scooting alone should never worry people. Case in point: Jaspar, who is MRI scanned clear for both malformation -- which is unusual -- and for SM, scoots regularly, even within days of having his anal glands emptied. So definitely not related to SM or anal glands! Lily and Leo both also scooted within days of having anal glands expressed.

So yes, I do think vets squeeze more than necessary as owners report scooting, and vets then think it is needed.

Also, small breeds are said by vets to have more problems with anal glands. This makes sense if you think about it -- a small breed is a miniaturised dog well below the size a domestic dog would be if it reverted to a wild type. So its anal glands have also miniaturised but still need to perform the same function. The smaller opening is said to more easily become clogged and hence the problems. Large breed dogs are a lot less likely to ever have such problems.

Also consider that while kibble may make for firm poops there's actually not much real, proper roughage in those poops and I have read there's some additive routinely put into kibble to firm poops; not sure if that is true. It is the roughage that helps the glands naturally express, not just a firm poop. If you have ever fed raw bones, you will know that there's a huge difference between poops that are from say raw chicken necks and just a firm kibble poop.

Hence it's good to get some natural roughage into your dog's diet -- anything from raw necks to carrots to other fruit and veg to abit of shredded wheat or wheetabix, etc etc.Grass is good roughage too if you have a grass-eater.

Some breeders feel that once you start expressing glands then you have to keep doing it but I am not sure why that should be the case.

I generally only have my dogs' done about once a year when they have an annual vet checkup and that's just to make sure their glands are healthy and not overfull or impacted.

22nd March 2007, 08:52 PM
Thanks for the feedback everyone, and Kalin, thanks for your great explanation. It confirms what was grumbling around there at the back of my mind.

22nd March 2007, 09:20 PM
The vet also advised me to add roughage to Alfies diet, she said even a little all bran breakfast cereal or a little wholemeal toast could help.

23rd March 2007, 03:17 AM
All of my girls scoot from time to time. It just kills me when they do it on the concrete! OUCH!!!

You all know of Wallis's issues with her anal glands, I think. Hers have always tended to fill up quickly and not emptying when they should. If the gunk stays in there too long it will harden and is more difficult to express - has to be done internally rather than the external route. I doubt that this played any part in the tumor, but if they didn't have to be done fairly often and done internally who knows how long we would have gone without knowing there was a tumor there?

Some people take their dogs to a veterinarian and tell them it is scooting and insist that the dr express the anal glands. So that one goes both ways - it isn't always the dr looking for something else to charge for. icon_whistling

23rd March 2007, 05:18 AM
zack and belle don't scoot very often. The two mutt dogs i had in the sixties and seventies both scooted occasionally. I thought it was just a dog thing. They just did it once in a while. Zack and belle do it once in a while--once or twice a week?

before i got zack i had read that cavaliers have anal gland problems so at my second vet visit, i asked to have them expressed, because i had gotten the idea that it's just routine hygiene thing and i wanted to do all the necessary things. it wasn't the vet i was seeing that time, it was a tech. I had just brought him in to get Advantage and toenail clip and anal glands expressed, and his last vaccination. it seemed like the tech didn't really didn't know how to do it. Nothing was expressed. She seemed to be unsure about where the anal glands actually were, she was groping around and expressed uncertainty.

zack got sick months later with pyoderma, and when i took him to the vet about that, the vet asked me if he was scooting. I hesitated because i didn't think the scooting was worth mentioning, but i said yes, sometimes, because occasionally he did. So she said she was going to express the anal glands.

After that, for about a month or two, he scooted frequently, much more than he ever had before, a few times a day. I dont' think it was a good idea that he got his anal glands expressed. I think it was harmful to him.
The vet said there wasn't too much that came out when she expressed them.

Harvey's Mum
23rd March 2007, 06:21 AM
Harvey was having his anal glands expressed every 2 to 3 weeks. The vet said as soon as he started scooting bring him in, and they were full everytime. They said if we couldn't sort out this problem he would have them removed. I tried every food and supplements that the vet recommended but nothing made his poo firmer, infact it made it worse. The only thing he had never had was tinned dog food which i thought would make him looser, so i tried him on it for a week and hey presto alot firmer no more emptying of the glands. This is not what i wanted to feed him but it works and he likes it. I would give him pumpkin, but it is not available here at the moment and i can't find any canned pumpkin, boy i have tried.

Anna (Mum of Harvey)

23rd March 2007, 12:29 PM
Sometimes I think they just itch. :D

23rd March 2007, 12:33 PM
The few times I've seen Sonny scoot, it turned out he had dried poo stuck to the hair of his bot :yuk: No prizes for guessing who had to get it off.

29th March 2007, 03:29 AM
Me & my great big mouth! I should have known to keep it shut. Here is what I said earlier

It is just that I have had multiple dogs for all of my 54 years, and (touch wood 3 times) I have never had the vets go anywhere near my dogs anal glands, nor have they needed too.

So yesterday we go off to work leaving behind 4 healthy happy looking dogs. Nobody is scooting, everything looks just fine. We arrive home at about 4:00 pm & immediately I could tell something was wrong with Sonny. There was no exhuberant greeting, just a very sorry looking little boy. So I quickly bring him inside to examine him, and there about 1cm from his anus and at about the 8 o'clock position is this big pussy lump. At first we though it was too far away from his anus to be an anal gland, but it was clear that he was sick & in pain, so off to the vets we go.

So yes, it was a blocked, infected & chewed on anal gland. He is now on antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, and had the painful experience of having his anal glands squeezed. Poor little man. I felt so sorry for him.

Anyway, hubby who doesn't mind doing the icky jobs found this web site about anal glands, so it might be of some use to those of you who don't mind a bit of hands on. This web site does require an Active-X plug in to view it, as it is an animated tutorial.


Sonny is feeling a lot better this morning, and as I write is happily chewing on a pig's ear.

29th March 2007, 03:46 AM
Caraline, just be happy that you discovered it BEFORE it exploded. That happened with Wallis and I still have the blood stains on my bed to proove it!!

We have had dogs come into Emergency with symptoms that the owner didn't know what was wrong, wasn't acting right, wouldn't hold it's tail up. Never happened to me, but my friend has many times lifted the tail to take the temp and had the glands express themselves all over her. YUCK!!

29th March 2007, 04:21 AM
Oh Critter, that would have been horrible for both you and poor little Wallis.

The vet was telling us that the anal glands are a left-over remnant of more ancient times, and are not really needed. He said that in a dog that continues to have problems, they often surgically remove them.

I'd never heard of this. Anybody else?

29th March 2007, 04:37 AM
Zippy's dog had this done, and while it isn't the most common surgery that you see it isn't unheard of.

The biggest draw back to the surgery is that if it isn't done properly there is a risk of doing damage to the nerve that controls the sphincter muscle. If that muscle does not have something controlling it, you have a dog that does not have control over when and where it poops. In some situations the nerve repairs itself over time.

This is what we were getting into with Wallis at the first of the year. She has a tumor in one of her anal glands and it needs to be removed, which would probably require removal of the entire gland. My vet didn't instill much confidence in me and I was really uncomfortable having him do the surgery. (He had told us in November that the tumor had grown and needed to be removed as soon as possible then when I started talking about setting up a date for surgery he thought it would be better to wait until after the first of the year. HUH?)

Just because yout dog has had this anal gland to abscess doesn't necessarily mean he'll have more problems with it. But it is uncomfortable for them during the healing process. It took Bubba and me both to do Wallis's meds, but one was a tube of ointment that we had to stick into the hole that had been made and give it a good squeeze.

Good luck, It'll be over before you know it!! :D

29th March 2007, 05:12 AM
Thanks Critter :)