Things about anal glands every cocker spaniel parent must know

I think it took me longer to compose a title of this post than to write the actual story. Because no matter how hard I tried, it’s impossible to prettify the subject or make it spam-proof.

But hey, the perks of being a dog mum are always supplemented with conversations about poops and, as you can see, anal glands.

The little glands should be familiar to all cocker spaniel parents because cockers are one of the breeds that may experience problems in the area.

I’ll start with the latest study that looked into the non-cancerous anal sac disorders (ASD) in dogs. According to the results, cocker spaniels were among the affected dogs.

The study considered several parameters including weight and diet, and it seemed that at least some of the dogs needed to either lose weight or change food as a part of their treatment.

Which, to me, means that one of the ways to prevent issues is yet again helping your dog maintain slim physic and feeding him a complete and balanced diet. It can be easily achieved by keeping an eye on your spaniel’s weight, quality of food, portion sizes, amount of treats and activity levels. You know the drill…

Feeding meals that provide correct amount of fibre is one of the simplest ways to maintain healthy anal glands. This is when you should think of commercial complete formulas containing healthy grains instead of choosing grain-free options or experimenting with various types of diets.

You also need to remember to never ever express anal sacs as a part of routine grooming! Nature can do it for you as long as your dog’s diet is balanced.

Unless medically required, squeezing the glands against their will can only lead to injuries, traumas, inflammation and the need to manually express the sacs over and over again. Squeeze them once – and you will have to do it over and over again, first – every few months and then having to pay regular, often monthly, visits to the nurse clinic or a grooming salon.

I often hear dog parents say that they need to express the glands because of the fishy smell. However it is vital to remember that the odour is not always a sign of a physical problem (i.e. impacted glands), but a natural involuntary response to stress or fear. Re-assessing the situation, checking if your dog is happy and content, avoiding stressful events and helping your pooch if he suffers from reactivity or nervousness would eliminate any need to give the glands a squeeze.

And when your spaniel turns nine, you will also need to keep an eye on any odd symptoms that may suddenly appear under the tail and overall because some English cockers carry a specific gene that puts them at risk of anal sac carcinoma. It is important to ask your vet for regular checks and take your cocker to the clinic if he starts to drink or urinate extensively, develops a tiny odd mass or thicker skin under his tail at 4 or 8 o’clock mark, you see blood in stool or bleeding near your dog’s anus, he seems constipated or starts to scoot on his bum. Some dogs may also lose appetite, vomit and become lethargic. The outcomes of the treatment will depend on the stage when the cancer was caught.

So as un-pretty as the subject is, knowing about it can potentially save your dog’s life. Definitely a little lesson worth learning, right?

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