Category Archives: Dogs

Taming the Party Dog

Excitable dog behaviour such as jumping on people and mouthiness are very common behaviours, especially amongst young dogs. While a Chihuahua pup might not cause much damage when it jumps at your visitor, the hurtling missile of fun in the shape of the adolescent Labrador can cause injury. Jumping up, attention barking and even mouthiness are often linked to the pet’s level of excitability.

Times of high arousal lead to excitement and frustration in the pet – so daily greetings, playing, requesting food or meeting someone while out on a walk are all triggers for an explosion of inappropriate behaviours such as jumping up and mouthiness. These behaviours can be given a safer and more appropriate outlet.

JUMPING UP

If your dog jumps up to greet you, how about teaching a totally different behaviour, such as to retrieve a toy, sit calmly and give it to you. That then gives the excitability an outlet and means that the dog has something in its mouth other than your hand.

MOUTHINESS

A pup’s choice of tool for investigating and interacting with the world is its mouth. They’ll use it to explore everything including grabbing your fingers, hands, arms, clothes etc. If you squeal when they nip you this can be misinterpreted as a game, with you as the squeaky toy. To prevent this, make hand movements around dogs slow. Also, resist the urge to roughhouse play with your dog using your hands — and ALL members of the household need to adhere to this rule.

Provide appropriate chew items for your dog such as raw hides, raw carrots and chew toys.

BARKING FOR ATTENTION

For dogs that bark for attention, immediately withdraw your attention by turning your back on the dog. Saying ‘No’ to the dog in this instance actually rewards the barking as the dog can just as easily interpret the ‘No’ as ‘Hello’. Dogs are masters of body language, so removing your facial contact with the dog is far more effective at diminishing this behaviour. However, remember that you still need to reward the desirable behaviour. When your dog is quiet, reward that with calm, low key praise.

SUPPORT

Some dogs seem to understand what is expected more easily than others. At Hall Veterinary Surgery we can help you with these problems through personalised training strategies and behaviour consultations. Our website has a range of help sheets for you to download, or you can have a chat to a trainer or our veterinary behaviourist by calling us on 6230 2223.

 

Setting them up to win – looking for red flags in pups

Early learning in puppies and red flags for mental health.

When we welcome a dog or pup into our lives, we have certain expectations about how they should behave and fit into our family life. As social creatures able to bond with humans, dogs have co-evolved and shared our lives for thousands of years. However, each pup’s survival within their human family is dependent on them displaying desirable behaviours.

What affects your pup’s behaviour?

The behaviour your pup chooses at any particular moment is affected by their genetic make-up, what they have learned and their current situation or environment.

Genetic make-up is not just about breed. In fact there is more diversity in behaviour between individuals or family lines within a breed than between different breeds.

Learning has a huge impact on the behaviour choices your dog will make and there is so much we can do to teach our pups to grow into ‘good citizens’. We can provide positive opportunities for them to adapt to all the weird and wonderful things in our world and use rewards to help them associate challenging situations with good things.

When does your pup’s mental development start?

From birth to adulthood, you puppy’s brain is undergoing intense development. Even in the womb, a pup’s development can be compromised if their mother is suffering environmental stress.

Right from the beginning, the pup is learning how best to survive in their world. The first hundred days is a crucial period when they will most benefit from positive exposure to the stimuli that make up their world. They must learn how to socialize to other dogs and people in these early weeks to be suitable companions.

In the normal pup, there is a pruning of neurons in the brain over this time that helps reduce overwhelm and over reactive behaviour. This helps them learn what to pay attention to and what they can safely ignore.

A pup’s early experience during the socialising period affects resilience or coping capacity. A small amount of stress like being gently handled is important in developing the ability to bounce back from stress later on. However, if faced with too much stress or too many choices, the pup will turn their attention away from the world around them and shut down to learning about their environment. Pups raised in isolation or impoverished environments are also more susceptible to becoming anxious and need early interventions to help them feel safe in the real world.

At two-three weeks of age, pups benefit from a moderate variety of textures and structures to enrich their environment and promote development.

From three to twelve weeks, pups learn through play about their social structure and natural bite inhibition. They are very receptive to new experiences at this time, rapidly socialising and learning to accept new objects and situations. Introduction to other breeds is important at this stage and puppy preschool is a great opportunity to do this in a controlled way.

A fear period between eight and ten weeks is a time when a traumatic experience can outweigh positive exposure and cause lasting fears, so it is important to provide environmental enrichment without overdoing stressors. Resilience will vary greatly with genetic background, however the trauma of shipping pups to new homes at this age can sometimes result in lasting emotional damage.

Pups left in impoverished environments without the opportunity to explore their world by fourteen to twenty weeks will not voluntarily do so and can become terrified and distressed if forced out of their comfort zone. Early social intervention is essential to help pups develop resilience and normal behaviour.

The age of separation from mum is another important consideration. Pups separated from mum when only 30-40 days old grow up to show more destructive behaviours, barking, fear on walks, reactivity to noises and food/toy possessiveness than pups weaned after two months.

The home environment of the pup can also be a risk factor to puppy mental health with those pups in an enriched home environment generally fairing best.

How do we recognise anxiety in a little pup?

We need to learn to recognise dog body language. Pups that are fearful can show yawning when not tired, panting, ears back and lip licking. They may be withdrawn and non-social or anxious when left alone.

What can be done?

Living with stress has an impact on both mental and physical health. Early intervention is key to helping pups develop the resilience to cope in our world. Identifying problems and early treatment increases the chance of success as pups don’t tend to grow out of fear.

Treatment is divided into environmental management, behaviour modification and in some cases medication. Dog appeasement pheromone can also be helpful to calm these pups.

Diets rich in fish oils (EPA and DHA), taurine, Vitamin E and L-carnitine can assist neuronal development and learning.

Physical and mental stimulation with sensory cues like games to sniff out things and puzzle solving can help to develop cognitive ability and lower reactivity.

We can help pups develop the ability to be calm on cue through rewarding calm behaviour in varied and stimulating environments. Please don’t hesitate to call us on (02) 6230 2223 if you are concerned about your puppy’s development.

Dreading Shedding?

Shedding is one way an animal can adapt to its environment. Changes in the amount of sunlight and the external temperature are the two of the main factors that determine when major shedding will occur.

While hair shedding is a normal process for many breeds of dogs and cats, the amount and frequency of hair that is shed often depends upon their health and breed type. It can also depend on the season —
many pets develop thick coats in the winter that are then shed in the spring. However, pets who are always kept indoors are prone to smaller fluctuations in coat thickness and tend to shed fairly evenly all year rather than seasonally.

When should you be concerned?
• You notice significantly more shedding than usual.
• Development of bald patches.
• Dull dry hair that falls off when touched.
• Your pet is continually itching, scratching or biting itself.

Image result for itchy dog

What can you do about it?
• Make some notes about the intensity and frequency of the shedding and discuss this with your vet.
• Groom your pet very regularly with an implement that causes no pain and pair grooming time with a great treat for your pet. This will make grooming something the pet enjoys rather than suffers through.

Helping Dogs with Separation Distress

‘Velcro’ dogs as they can be known, always want to be super close, even touching their owner in case you go away. This is a joy when you are with them, however some dogs can’t be left without getting upset and will bark continuously or destroy property (or themselves) in an effort to find you.

Separation distress is a condition that results from anxiety. Other common anxious behaviours in dogs include fear of noises, situations or unfamiliar people or dogs. Anxiety is a fear of perceived threats. We know they are safe at home without us, however your dog may be completely unable to cope without the company of family members. Much of the time, it’s human rather than canine company that they crave so getting another dog is rarely the answer.

Separation distress occurs in up to 15% of dogs and studies have shown that up to 80% of dogs have an increase in their stress hormones when alone. The desperate ‘nuisance’ barking or expensive destruction of property account for many pets being relinquished to shelters.

Why do some dogs suffer separation distress?

Various theories have been put forward for the dysfunctional attachment to owners or the fear of being left alone. Genetics can play a part, however the most powerful predictor is separation from an attachment figure early in life. Pups can readily transfer their attachment from their dam to their new human owner’s care, however, they need attention when young in order to grow up independent. The risk is greater in pups of single owners as they are alone more. There is an increased risk when owners are anxious when leaving the pup and make a fuss when they return. Dogs with a shelter background are more at risk as they have often lost confidence in attachment figures.

When does separation distress start?

The onset usually occurs before two years of age. It can follow the loss of a human or animal companion, moving house, a change in the owners schedule or a stay away from home in boarding or hospital. It can also occur along with other anxiety based behaviours, like noise or thunderstorm fear.

What are the signs of separation distress?

These signs only occur with separation, however some dogs cope with predictable regular departures but panic with unexpected departures. Most dogs show signs within 10 minutes of departure.

Signs include:

  • Destruction of property. This is a desperate attempt to escape the barriers to finding you. Most often the damage will be around windows, blinds or doors. Other dogs will chew anywhere in the house in an attempt to cope with anxiety.
  • Barking and whining are also attempt to communicate with you.
  • Urination with or without defecation in the house.
  • Increased grooming that causes hairless, ulcerated areas on the skin.
  • Pacing and shadowing the owner before a departure and over-exuberant greetings
  • Severe fear signs include dilated pupils, salivation, vomiting and inability to eat when alone.
How do I know this is anxiety related?

Destructive behaviour can also occur with normal puppy chewing or exploratory behaviour, particularly if the pup’s needs for mental and physical stimulation are not met. Some dogs destroy barriers when they are frustrated, for example they see a rabbit over the fence that they want to chase. Others bark at passersby or bark as social communication to attract attention. Dogs with separation distress show anxious body language that occurs when they are alone. Video footage can be helpful for diagnosis.

What can I do to help?

We recommend a thorough behaviour assessment to develop a treatment plan for your dog.

Attempts to desensitize dogs to pre-departure cues by scrambling or avoiding the usual cues eg. donning work clothing, picking up of keys, rarely works as the dog quickly learns the new cues.

Training to gradually increase the length of the departure is generally tedious and unsuccessful.

It can be helpful to initially stop fueling the fear by not leaving your pet alone all day. Consider options for day care.

This is an example of a protocol to help your pet can learn to cope alone:

Before leaving:

  • Take your dog for lots of exercise. This could be in excess of an hour in the morning for some dogs to enable them to become tired and fulfil their physical and mental needs.
  • Hold the morning meal until you leave. Use a non-performance ration.
  • Act happy as you leave rather than communicate worry.
  • Use the ‘wait’ command before feeding.
  • Present the morning meal, which is half the dog’s daily ration in multiple food release toys or puzzles eg. Kongs, treat balls, wobblers, frozen treats or hide the food as you leave.
  • Make your leaving into party time!

Image result for dog treat toys

When you are away:

  • Leave your pet with an optimal environment.
  • Appeal to your dog’s sense of taste. This will be different for every dog. Some love dried liver powder mixed with the food.
  • Appeal to their sense of smell to provide interest. The smell could be associated with a chew toy eg vanilla, anise or an animal odour.
  • Appeal to their sense of vision. For example, provide a bird feeder to watch, access to a view, dog TV, a dog door to access inside and out.
  • Appeal to their sense of hearing. Play a CD going of sounds your dog may like eg “Through a Dogs ear”.
  • Appeal to their sense of touch. Provide a comfortable resting place. Put some of your unwashed clothing in their bed. Crates that represent a safe refuge can be provided, however leave the door open.

When you return:

  • Your return must be very low key.
  • Pick up all the uneaten food and items that you left at departure. The party is over.
  • Wait an hour before feeding the evening meal.

Teach independence:

  • Ignore demanding attention seeking behaviour.
  • When you start to ignore attention seeking behaviours, the dog may increase their attempt to get your attention. Take care not to reward this heightened behaviour.
  • Remember that saying ‘No’, speaking to your dog, looking at them or pushing them down represents attention and rewards the behaviour.
  • Reward calm and independent behaviour.
  • Foster clear and consistent routines where your dog sits to receive good things in life.
  • If they sleep on your bed, teach them to sleep in their own bed near to yours. Use a tether initially if they keep jumping up with you.
  • Provide them with lots of exercise, off leash where possible.
  • Make theirs an interesting life. Are they suitable for agility? Do they enjoy training or tricks?

Can medication help?

One of the most important goals in behaviour therapy is to reduce the underlying anxiety so learning can begin. Some anxious dogs are unable to learn new strategies to cope without medication as they have a physical illness. Whilst medication usually does not work without avoidance or fear triggers and the use of behaviour modification, it is often very helpful to reduce anxiety to a level that allows a starting point for retraining. Background and situational medications can play a large part in the management of separation anxiety and the vet will discuss these during a behaviour consultation.

Patient Spotlight – Frankie the 5mo Pug

Frankie is a very excitable and wriggly 5 month old Pug puppy that came in recently for desexing.

Frankie is very lucky, as his owners are well informed about some of the breathing problems that Pugs and other squishy faced (Brachycephalic) dogs such as Bulldogs and Boxers are prone to getting. Because of the excess soft tissues in their airways dogs with squished faces can have great difficulty breathing.  It can even get to the point where these dogs collapse and need oxygen support and emergency treatment after something as little as a short walk on a warm afternoon.

So, while he was in for his desexing, we checked Frankie over to make sure he wasn’t going to have problems in the future.  Frankie had very narrow nostrils which makes it much harder to breath in oxygen, and the effort of breathing in through narrow passages changes the pressures throughout the airways and lungs.  Early intervention is key as these pressure changes can cause long term complications.

Try pinching your nose and then breathing through it, and then imaging breathing like that all the time, even when excercising.  It’s certainly not comfortable, and can cause great distress for affected dogs during exercise, times of high temperature, and periods of stress.

While Frankie was under anaesthetic for his desexing, we surgically widened his nostrils.  You can see the difference in his before and after photos below.

The good news is Frankie can now breathe more easily making him much happier and more comfortable.  Frankie woke up as if nothing had happened and wanted nothing more than some food and some cuddles!

Chocolate toxicity: Keep your dog safe this Easter!

With the approach of Easter, your chocolate stash is likely to grow. Like us, dogs love chocolate and will go to great lengths to search it out. Unfortunately, for our four-legged friends, eating chocolate can cause serious illness.

Related image

Why is chocolate toxic to dogs?

Chocolate contains caffeine and theobromine. Whilst the amount of theobromine in chocolate is safe for human consumption, dogs take longer to process it, allowing the theobromine to negatively affect the dog’s heart, kidneys and brain.

How much is too much?

That depends upon your dog’s weight and the type of chocolate. Smaller, thinner dogs or dogs that are unwell are more at risk.

Generally, the darker, the chocolate, the more theobromine it contains. White chocolate does not have enough theobromine to be toxic, but milk chocolate and dark chocolate can contain dangerous theobromine levels. Cocoa powder and cooking chocolate have the highest amounts of theobromine so be sure to keep these well out of reach!

Some dogs are more sensitive to this toxin than others. As a rough guide, mild signs like vomiting and diarrhoea can occur with theobromine doses of 20mg/kg. Serious effects on the heart can start to occur at doses of 40 mg/kg and seizures at doses around 60mg/kg. Doses of 100mg/kg can be lethal.

Theobromine makes up around 1.9 mg/g of milk chocolate, 5.5 mg/g of sweet dark chocolate and 16 mg/g of cooking chocolate.

This chocolate calculator works out the toxic dose quickly and easily.

http://veterinaryclinic.com/chocolate/calc.html

Who would have thought that the fatal dose for a 5 kg dog is just 30 grams of cooking chocolate or a tablespoon of cocoa powder!

Signs of chocolate toxicity

Mild poisoning can cause:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Increased drinking and urination
  • Restlessness

Serious poisoning can cause:

  • Increased body temperature
  • Increased/abnormal heart rate
  • Increased activity or excitement
  • Muscle twitching
  • Seizures
  • Coma

How are dogs treated for chocolate toxicity?

This is an emergency! Bring your dog to the vet immediately as we need to induce vomiting within an hour to remove as much of the chocolate from the stomach as possible. Don’t be tempted to try to induce vomiting using home remedies as these can have serious adverse effects.

We may administer activated charcoal to reduce gut absorption of the toxin. Additionally, IV fluids help remove theobromine from the body and prevent dehydration.

With treatment, dogs with mild signs recover in 1-2 days. Dogs with seizures, muscle twitching or an abnormal heart rhythm will need more intensive treatment.

Other ingredients in the chocolate like the high fat and dairy content can trigger illnesses ranging from a bout of gastro to serious pancreatitis during the following week.

Chocolate is actually more toxic to cats than dogs however poisoning in cats is rare.

Be sure to store chocolate securely to keep all your pets safe.
If you suspect your dog has ingested chocolate, please call us immediately at Hall Veterinary Surgery on (02)62302223 for advice.

For Veterinary attention after hours please phone either:
Canberra Veterinary Emergency Service in Gungahlin on (02) 6225 7257 or,
Animal Emergency Centre in Fyshwick on (02) 6280 6344.

A day in the life of: Bonnie the 10wk old Bulldog puppy

Bonnie is a cute little 10 week old bulldog who came in to see us not long after arriving in her new home.   

As you can see from the picture above, Bonnie has a protruding red lump in the corner of her left eye – this is a condition called ‘cherry eye’. Cherry eye occurs when the third eyelid swells and the tear producing gland pops out of its normal position.  

Younger dogs, particularly those that are squishy faced (brachycephalic) or those with prominent eyes are prone to getting this condition.  If left untreated, affected eyes can become inflamed, irritated and have reduced tear production.  These animals require lifelong treatment of their sore eyes.  

So, Bonnie got to come and spend the day with us to have her cherry eye surgically corrected.  The surgery involved creating a little pocket to slide the gland into. Some very small sutures were used to hold it into place.  Bonnie recovered well from her procedure, and was quite pleased to spend the day having lots of cuddles and pats.  

Dog Safety Tips for All of the Family

Well-adjusted dogs add so much to our lives and to our families. They provide companionship, fun times and exercise, and help us teach our children about responsibility and caring for others.

Image result for dog with family

However even the nicest, well socialised dog can use aggression to distance themselves from a threat and keep themselves safe. There are also dogs who suffer anxieties that make them more reactive to normal situations because they perceive these as threatening.

You, your family and your community can take simple steps to reduce the number of dog bites that occur. As well as the physical and emotional trauma caused to victims of dog bites, many dogs lose their homes or their lives after a bite that should never have occurred. Let’s set them up to win!

Here are some ways to keep the families and family pets in your community safe.

Safety around dogs

Dog are more likely to bite in situations that frighten them.  They want to escape the threat and aggression works for them to keep them safe. Physical discomfort or previous scary events may make them less tolerant. Try to put yourself in their paws and understand how we can prevent many incidents that result in dog bites.

Here are some tips to help dogs feel safe around people.
  • Always ask permission before petting or touching someone else’s dog. Let the dog come to you. If they don’t want to, that’s their prerogative. Leave them alone.
  • Never hug a dog. They may feel vulnerable or trapped.
  • Notice their body language. Most of the time, we encounter friendly, wiggly dogs in public but be cautious if a dog stiffens or is not wagging in a loose and friendly way.
  • Never approach a dog you don’t know. If you are approached by a strange dog, stand quietly, hands at your sides and avoid eye contact. A dog’s natural instinct is to chase, so if you turn and run, a dog may chase you.
  • Never corner a dog. All dogs have a sense of personal space, so watch their body language as you approach.
  • Do not approach dogs in cars, kennels or on a tether. They may feel vulnerable when they can’t run away so their only defence might be to lunge or bite in an effort to increase their distance from the perceived threat.
  • Don’t reach over or through fences or barriers to pet or touch a dog.
  • Never approach or startle a dog while they’re sleeping, focussed on something, or with their puppies.
  • Never yell or make loud noises around dogs. Their hearing is very sensitive. Speak to them calmly.
  • Never get between dogs who are fighting or reach towards their heads as you may get bitten.
  • Leave dogs alone when they are eating, whether the dog is eating from a bowl or chewing a treat, toy or any other high-value item. Like people, dogs don’t like it when people get between them and their food.
  • Never tease, chase or harass a dog.
  • Don’t enter a property containing a dog unless the dog’s person is with you. Dogs can be defensive of their family’s attention or their home territory.

 

The dog-safe family
  • Children should always be closely supervised around dogs, even the family dog.
  • Supervising children around dogs not only protects the children from accidents but also protects the dog from harm by children who don’t always know that touching animals in a certain way can hurt them.
  • Never leave babies unattended around dogs. Dogs may not understand about being gentle with babies or even know what a baby is.
  • If you’re expecting a baby, start early to get your dog used to the changes a baby will make to their lives.
  • Don’t attempt or allow your children to attempt to remove anything (toys, food or other objects) from your dog’s mouth. Instead, find something of equal or greater value to offer your dog as a trade.
  • Teach your children about dog safety early and promote dog-safe practices (see kids and dog safety videos below).

 

Good dog habits
  • Socialise your dog and make them a part of your family activities early on. Even after their first vaccinations, take them out to safe places so they can become comfortable through gentle exposure to the many situations of their world.
  • Take your puppy to preschool and adolescent classes that use only positive reinforcement training techniques. Learn to teach your dog appropriate behaviours in a humane, effective, and ethical way. Get the whole family involved.
  • Don’t allow children to play rough with your dog, as they can accidentally hurt the dog or encourage him to become mouthy. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t play games like fetch and tug. Teaching your dog to play games using healthy rules will help them to learn self-control.
  • Avoid reprimanding or any form of physical punishment because it will make your dog fearful and increases the risk of aggression. Make your motto “Don’t do that, do this instead” and make a habit of moulding good behaviour through rewarding a desirable alternative.
  • Provide lots of exercise for your dog through play and frequent walks. Walks provide great exercise for you and your dog as well as social opportunities to meet other dog lovers. Regular activity not only enriches their lives but also reduces frustration or boredom. Interactive play increases the bond between you and your pet.
  • Make sure that your dog has lots of human interaction every day. As social animals, dogs thrive on social interaction and love to be a part of the family.
  • Avoid tethering your dog. Tethering removes a dog’s ability to flee and may make them feel vulnerable. If they can’t escape a perceived threat, the only option is to use aggression.
  • Never let your dog roam free. Letting your dog roam freely greatly increases their chance of injury from cars or other animals. A roaming dog may become confused or frightened, leading to aggressive behaviour.
  • Use caution when introducing your dog to new people, new dogs or new situations. Your goal is to provide the dog with a succession of happy experiences so their social skills will continually improve. Listen to their body language.
  • If your dog’s behaviour changes (e.g., he becomes irritable), bring him/her in for a check-up. Behaviour changes can be a symptom of a medical problem.

 

Here are some useful resources for families with fur kids.

http://stopthe77.com/.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PNYM5lwaLmI

http://info.drsophiayin.com/kids-and-dogs-1

https://www.thebluedog.org/en/

 https://www.thefamilydog.com/ 

Aches and Pains – How Can We Tell?

Our pets can’t tell us what they are feeling in words, however through observing their body language, we can notice changes in their behaviour that may indicate pain.

Pain can occur with a vast array of chronic diseases, some not so obvious, for example dental disease, arthritis, back pain, ear infections, pancreatitis and cancer.

Image result for pain in animals

Top five signs of chronic pain are:

  1. Decreased Activity. Is your dog less enthusiastic for walks lately? Does your cat lay around more than usual or have they stopped climbing on to their favourite perch? Be careful not to assume this is normal ageing. There could be a medical condition that will improve with treatment.
  2. Changes in habits. Is your cat grooming less? Has your dog stopped jumping into the car or onto furniture? Are they interacting less with family? Reluctance to use stairs or groom can often occur with back or joint pain.
  3. Loss of toilet training. Dogs and cats might start to toilet inside if it hurts too much to walk to their usual spot, squeeze through the dog door or navigate steps. It could be painful to squat.
  4. Lameness. Is your pet stiff when getting out of bed, hunched or favouring a leg? You might see them shifting their weight or unable to stand in one place for long if their joints are aching.
  5. Aggression. Perhaps your pet is growling or snapping when petted to protect a painful area. Are they avoiding a playmate who asks for a tumble because it’s going to hurt?

Detecting chronic pain in your pet can be challenging. Body language is their only way to tell us when something is wrong, physically or emotionally.

Watch carefully for changes in their behaviour and contact the practice to arrange a check up if you notice a change in your pet’s behaviour.

Anal Glands: A Pain in the Butt

Do you catch your dog “scooting” their bottom along the floor? Or licking under the tail? Or maybe you have seen swelling around the anus. These are signs that indicate potential anal gland issues.

What are anal glands you may ask?

Anal glands, also known as anal sacs, are located under the skin orientated at 4 and 8 o’clock to the anus. They produce a strong-smelling secretion containing a unique scent to every dog. When your dog defecates, some of this fluid is released from the sacs on to the stool. This strong odour plays a role in scent marking, so whenever you see dogs sniffing each other’s tail end, they are checking identity.

What can go wrong?

If the secretion becomes thickened, the little ducts can become blocked. Especially in small dogs, it is not uncommon for their glands to become “impacted” and the secretions build up inside. This can lead to a painful infection causing swelling and redness under the tail.

If left untreated, the infection may progress to an abscess which can then increase in size and pressure, eventually rupturing to release pus and blood. This is a very painful condition, often requiring surgical drainage to clean out the area and allow healing.

What to look for?

Common signs include:

  • Scooting (dragging their bottom along the floor) in an attempt to alleviate the irritation of the anal glands
  • Excessive licking of the anal area as swollen glands can cause discomfort
  • A swelling under the skin near the anus
  • Blood and/or pus discharge near the anus (see vet asap)
What can I do to avoid Anal Gland problems in my dog?
  • If you suspect your dog may be in discomfort from anal glands, call for an appointment for an anal gland expression or to check-up for further underlying causes.
  • Feeding a high fibre diet may increase the bulk of the stools, and help evacuate anal gland secretions.
  • Maintaining a healthy ideal weight for your pet.
Do not ignore the symptoms, as when left untreated, the glands may become impacted or infected again and can be very uncomfortable for your dog.

Some dogs are more prone to recurring anal gland problems. Our experienced vets at Hall Veterinary Surgery are happy to discuss management strategies for you.