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Byline: askthevet With Rory Thomson

Q: My two-year-old female Border Collie, Lilly, regularly needs to have her anal glands emptied. Why does this happen? I have two collies both are fed the same diet but only Lilly has this problem. Chris Downer, Felton A: There are a number of potential causes of recurrent anal gland disease and in a lot of cases the exact cause is never fully investigated as regular emptying of the glands is relatively inexpensive and tends to prevent significant disease in animals with a predisposition to anal gland problems.

Some breeds are more prone to anal gland problems than others, indicating a possible genetic link to the disease. Soft faeces, poor muscle tone and obesity also predispose to the problem. Blockage of the anal gland duct will require manual emptying and sometimes an antibiotic course. Damage from previous infections or tumours (more commonly in older dogs) may create a structural blockage preventing the natural passage of anal gland material and requiring either regular manual emptying or surgical excision of the affected anal gland.

I find that a dietary sensitivity tends to be responsible for the problem in a large proportion of my patients. Sensitivity to an ingredient in the food or treat can cause inflammation of the gland, preventing normal emptying. A dog with this sensitivity is more likely to be affected than other dogs in the household without the sensitivity, despite the same diet. I recommend feeding a good quality, hypoallergenic diet exclusively for six weeks and see if you notice a difference.

A high fibre supplement can firm up the faeces in an attempt to naturally empty the glands. Some also contain probiotics and prebiotics, promoting the good bacteria of the intestines, displacing the bad bacteria and aiding more efficient digestion. This can help overcome some mild dietary sensitivities.

| Please note that advice in this section is |for general guidance, and if your pet is very unwell you should contact your veterinary surgeon as soon as possible as this advice does not replace the need for a clinical examination of your pet.

Rory Thomson is part of the team at St |Clair Veterinary Care in Croft Road, Blyth. If you have a question, fill out the online form at

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Dec 3, 2015
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