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Vet Talks: Anal Gland Disease in Dogs and Cats

Vet Talks 2 min read
dog climbing under bed with rear end facing the camera

Anal gland problems are very common.

Almost every day, dog and sometimes cat patients visit my integrative veterinary practice, due to scooting on their hind end. A veterinary hospital can be a very smelly place at times! Anal gland problems are very common.

Dogs and cats have two small pouches on either side of their anus that make a smelly, brown fluid—this fluid is normally expressed when your cat or dog defecates. When anal glands are not completely empty, this becomes a problem. It leads to impaction, and if left untreated, infection and anal gland abscesses.

Funny cat sitting on his back.

Signs of Anal Gland Problems in Dogs and Cats

The signs include scooting, licking, or biting their rear end, a very bad smell, and discomfort while defecating. In cats, this problem is often showing up as over-grooming of the hind end at the tail head and belly, or acting uncomfortable when defecating.

In dogs, impactions can be relieved by expressing the anal glands, but in our experience, cat anal gland impactions are much less likely to be detected until an abscess is detected.

Quick at Home Remedies for Anal Gland Disorders in Cats and Dogs

For both dogs and cats anal gland abscesses, expression, discomfort medication, antibiotics, and warm compressing take care of the immediate problem.

For natural remedies, NHV recommends using the NHV Stimmune, which has herbs that have antibiotic properties, as well as NHV First Aid Spray, to help with the infection.

Preventing Anal Gland Disorders in Cats and Dogs

There are, however, things that can be done to prevent or manage anal gland problems. Diet is the main change that I always recommend- sometimes adding natural fiber such as pumpkin or squash will help relieve the problem or plain flavored psyllium.

NHV Maris can also be used to soften hard stools. It’s gentle and glycerin-based so is safe for long-term use.

I have found in refractory cases a hypoallergenic diet is helpful in controlling the problem. Weight loss is helpful in both cats and dogs due to posture and normal grooming difficulties.  Probiotics are always helpful in maintaining good gastrointestinal health, as well as digestive enzymes.

Infrequently, anal glands can be abnormally shaped setting up for problems. In my opinion, overexpression (routine expression) sets dogs up for a problem (cats in my experience will not put up with routine expression).

Keeping your pet healthy with exercise, diet, immune support will help prevent these problems. In addition to the Stimmune and Maris, other natural products to help boost the immune system are NHV BK-Detox, ES-Clear, and Turmeric.

If you have any questions or would like to book an online consultation with us.

Dr. Hillary Cook DVM

Dr. Hillary Cook DVM

Dr. Hillary Cook is a graduate of Virginia Maryland Regional Veterinary Medical school. She has been practicing holistic and integrative veterinary medicine for over 20 years. She certified in Veterinary acupuncture and is fully qualified in Western and Chinese herbalism. She is the owner of Animal Wellness Center, an integrative veterinary clinic in Crozet, VA. She enjoys spending time with her husband, two children, and a menagerie of pets including dogs, cats, and chickens. When time allows, you can find her in the garden or on the tennis court!

Published: November 10, 2017

4 replies

  1. Kristine Graham says:

    I took my dog to a Holistic vet for chronic anal gland issues. The impacted (stuff?) was infected. She did something to my dog in the other room that had her screaming several times in pain. See administered her with [pharmaceutical name removed] and told me to give it to her one more day. She also gave me [brand name removed] which I gave her once. The first night she had diarrhea all over the carpet and also threw up! When I called them the next day I was told me to stop it and start it back up when she was “normal” again. I didn’t get normal, so I didn’t start it back up. She now has a problem holding in her urine – which NEVER happened before. Their office is closed until Monday, but I am horribly concerned and don’t feel comfortable waiting. Are these holistic [name removed] safe for dogs with anal sac issues & infection? Thanks you!!!!!!

    1. Team NHV says:

      Hi Kristine,

      We just saw your blog comment on our Vet Talks: Anal Gland Disease in Dogs and Cats post.

      We’re so sorry to learn about your sweet pooch’s health, we can understand how stressful and uncomfortable it must have been . Yes, our supplements are safe to take alongside conventional vet treatment. You can feed them to your girl on a daily basis and as part of her preventative (and/or ongoing) dietary regimen. Our recommended regimen for your girl is

      1. Yucca to help her manage her pain and reduce her inflammation. It also has herbs to help with gastrointestinal healing

      2. either Plantaeris (for diarrhea) or Maris (for constipation) – dependent on her current bowel movements

      3. Stimmune to help balance her immune health and histamine response

      4. Lastly, First Aid Spray to help clear the external infection.

      Keep us posted on how the vet visit went. We’re rooting for your sweetheart’s health! If there’s anything we can do, let us know. Sending lots of healing vibes and hugs to her. ♥

  2. Cecilia Sobbe says:

    I am giving my cat Urinary Gold to help with her Crystal Struvites. Can you tell me if that product also helps with her anal gland issues..weve tried everything. She gets them expressed monthly.

    1. Team NHV says:

      Hi Cecilia,

      Thank you so much for reaching out to us.

      We’re so sorry to hear that your little one is dealing with struvite crystals and anal gland issues. This must be tough for both of you but rest assured that we’re here to support you in any way that we can.

      Unfortunately, we’re not able to offer information on Urinary Gold but don’t worry! We have a few supplements that we think can help your sweet girl!

      First, for her struvite crystals, we would recommend Tripsy. This all-natural formulation can help to provide a soothing aid for flushing crystals, maintain good kidney health, and encourage urinary tract health. Click here to learn more about Tripsy:

      We would also recommend Yucca for your sweetheart’s anal gland issues. Yucca is a powerful yet gentle supplement that can help to relieve inflammation and discomfort while supporting healthy digestion. You can learn more about Yucca here:

      Please let us know if you have any questions at all, we’ll always be here to help! Sending you and your precious kitty lots of love and healing vibes.

      Yours in wellness,
      Team NHV

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