Painful & Inflamed Anal Glands

Similar to humans, some dogs are prone to digestive issues. Many digestive issues are directly related to the types of food your dog consumes. Food allergies or intolerance’s to certain ingredients or flavors can all lead to unhappy bellies. Some dogs even have digestive issues due to separation anxiety or being in unfamiliar places.

Upset Stomach - Painful Anal Gland Dogs

A friend of ours has a German Shepherd named Ozzy. Ozzy never had stomach problems until they moved. After that, Ozzy started having loose stools. They tried changing to a natural brand food but that didn’t work. Then they tried feeding Ozzy a bland diet of boiled chicken and white rice. This combination is often recommended by Veterinarians when dogs have an upset digestive tract. Plain chicken provides a light form of protein while the white rice acts as a gentle binder in the stomach. Unfortunately, the chicken and rice didn’t work because his digestive system was so inflamed. The irritation spread to his anal glands. Ongoing digestive issues are not uncommon for German Shepherds.

Ozzy Sad - Upset Stomach

It became difficult and painful for Ozzy to climb up stairs. He had to be careful and limped to favor his rear side. He then started whimpering every time he had to go to the bathroom. Relieving himself was painful due to how irritated his anal area became. Whether from food or environmental reasons, digestive irritation occurs in many dogs. Dog owners are often able to nurse their pups bag to health with at-home treatments like the chicken and rice meal. Or by adding anti inflammatory ingredients to their food like ginger or pumpkin. Sadly, Ozzy was past this point and he had to go to the Vet.

The Vet said Ozzy’s stomach became upset leading to an overactive digestive tract. He started going to the bathroom more often which inflamed his anus and anal glands. Irritated anal glands can become infected if not treated properly. Ozzy was put on an antibiotic to treat the infected inflamed anal glands. Small dogs are put on a smaller dose and bigger dogs are put on a stronger dose. Stronger doses mean more medicine and higher costs. Along with an antibiotic, Ozzy was put on a low dose pain killer to ease his pain. The pain killers allowed him to go to the bathroom with less pain.

The combination of pain killers and antibiotics will eliminate the infection and pain but it doesn’t last forever. The Vet said there was approximately a 40% chance his stomach and anal glands could get upset again. This is more likely since there wasn’t a specific incident that upset his stomach (for example: eating a whole chocolate cake). If Ozzy is getting an upset stomach because he is prone to stomach issues then it is likely to happen again. In this case, the dog may be diagnosed with anal gland disease causing dogs go to the bathroom multiple times a day. Their rate of elimination doesn’t allow the anus area to rest.

If Ozzy experiences more infections then he may be put on a monthly medication. Those medications will keep his stools regular and prevent his anal glands from becoming infected. The downside of the medication is that it’s expensive. In our area (New England) the medication costs $500 per month. This price isn’t feasible for many households. Option B is surgery. Surgery will be even more expensive but at least it will be a one time cost versus a monthly medication expense. We will keep our fingers crossed for Ozzy’s health!

Always be aware of your dog and his/her daily routine. Dogs are creatures of habit. Any unusual changes can be a sign that your dog needs special care or medical attention. How your dog walks, eats, groans, or goes to the bathroom can all be indicators of their health status.

Written on September 3rd, 2015
Updated on May 21st, 2019
Kimberly Mattar