Sinead is quite particular about the back end of her body. She doesn't like to be examined back there, and she certainly doesn't like to have her hind end manipulated in any way. But, she had to deal with both things a week or so ago, because one of her anal glands grew to a gigantic size.
From what I understand, anal glands work a little like scent markers. They're designed to transmit information about the dog's health when that dog has a bowel movement. In healthy dogs, those glands get expressed with every bowel movement. But sometimes, the glands get blocked or backed up in some way. And when they do, the results are pretty damn hard to miss.
I noticed that Sinead had a problem when she was sitting on my lap, facing out toward my feet. Her backside was absolutely crimson in color, and one side of her body was swollen, too.
I've read up on anal glands, so I knew a little about how to express them. So I got out the towels, put her in position and pressed on the swollen spot. This wee dog whipped around so fast that I couldn't even keep hold of her, and she was ready to fight me to keep me from touching her again.
Then, off she ran to the corner to sit down, so I couldn't even look at her bum.
While Sinead is more than willing to fight me when she doesn't want me to deal with her body in some way, she's often docile at the veterinarian's office. I think she knows that they can call in reinforcements, if she gets out of line. So, off to the office we went.
Within a few minutes, they had Sinead's glands pressed out and flushed, and they gave her a shot of antibiotics, too, in case she had an infection along with the blockage. She also got some painkiller medications, as she felt pretty miserable at the end of this poking and prodding.
I did a little research on this issue, hoping all the while that I wouldn't have to change Sinead's diet. Liam has a super sensitive stomach (which I've written about in this blog post), so my options for dog food are a little limited. Any food she eats he has to tolerate, too, or I'll have a queasy dog on my hands.
As it turns out, Sinead might not need a new food, but she does need a little more fiber in her diet. The idea is to bulk things up back there, so the glands will be under a little more pressure when she heads out in the morning for her poo sessions. So I'm adding pumpkin to her meals.
Since I also take Sinead to the groomer for nail trims (since she just will not let me do it, as I wrote about in this blog post), I may need to ask that team to check on her glands, too. They might be able to express them routinely, so they won't have a chance to get blocked.
Meanwhile, I'm happy to say that Sinead has recovered from this episode quite nicely. She's back to chewing on her keys, running around and sitting on my lap. But I will be watching her carefully, just to make sure her healing stays on track!