Old Dogs | Anal Gland Problems

Old dogs with anal gland problems aren’t uncommon. I just spent $238 at the veterinarian’s office after the groomer couldn’t express the dog’s anal glands.

The vet was able to do it internally. One side emptied easily, but the other one took more effort. It was infected and filled with pus, but at least it wasn’t impacted and it hadn’t yet burst. If I ignored the problem it would have surely worsened.

After the next recheck, he will need to have them expressed on a regular basis since it no longer happens naturally.

Old Dogs with Anal Gland Problems | Start with Dietary Changes

A dog needs fiber for good health. Firm and bulky feces naturally express anal glands as they exit the body, but in old dogs, it doesn’t always work that easily.

Before rushing to the vet, try increasing your dog’s fiber intake.  Add one or more of the following to the dog’s daily diet;

  • Shredded carrot
  • Fresh or frozen green beans (no canned unless salt-free)
  • Grated apple with the peel
  • Treats for anal gland health
  • Plain canned pumpkin (no spices or sugar added)

The treats posted above worked well for my Shih-Tzu until he developed other age-related issues.

When a Dog Can’t Naturally Express Anal Glands

In some cases, all it takes is an increase of dietary fiber to keep the nether regions healthy, but it doesn’t always work. No amount of fiber corrects problems caused by disease or muscle loss.

My elderly dog will be 12 in January. Because he lacks muscle in his back legs he doesn’t push as hard as he should while pooping. The vet said the loss of muscle is the reason for his problem. Simply put, it can’t be corrected and they will need regular expressing.

Glandex Anal Gland Soft Chew Treats with Pumpkin for Dogs 30ct Peanut Butter Chews with Digestive Enzymes, Probiotics Fiber Supplement for Dogs – Vet Recommended - Boot The Scoot (Peanut Butter)

View it at AmazonGlandex Anal Gland Soft Chew Treats with Pumpkin for Dogs 30ct Peanut Butter Chews with Digestive Enzymes, Probiotics Fiber Supplement for Dogs – Vet Recommended – Boot The Scoot (Peanut Butter)

Signs That a Dog’s Anal Glands are Full, Impacted, Infected, and/or Painful

  • Butt scooting
  • Reluctance to sit
  • Licking or biting
  • Foul breath
  • Oozing
  • Rectum feels warm
  • Smelly fishy odor
  • Rectal swelling and/or redness
  • Hurts when the dog poops

What to Do When Fiber Doesn’t Work

Seek the advice of your vet when fiber doesn’t work to naturally express the dog’s anal glands. It’s uncomfortable to have them expressed, but it should never be painful!

It may become necessary to have the vet do it internally once a month, at least until they determine out how often it should be done. Groomers will do it externally, but that method isn’t best because they may not empty completely.

You could learn to do it at home, but it’s messy and smelly. It’s best to leave it to the professionals! That way they can monitor the problem and recommend whatever steps are needed to maintain good health.

Just like people, dogs need more care as they age. I couldn’t ignore my dog’s health no matter the cost. I know what it’s like to suffer from chronic pain, and I’ll always do my best to keep him comfortable in the last years of his life.


Kimberly Dalessandro (a.k.a. Crystal Ray) began her online writing career in 2005 with PageWise Incorporated and went on to become a top writer for both Associated Content and Yahoo Voices under the pen name Crystal Ray. In early 2017 she launched Blue Crystal Sky ~ Everything Under the Sun. She is continually coming up with new ideas to share with the world.

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