So I had my first spa treatment last weekend. A treatment which I believe is similar to what you hoomans call a colonic irrigation. In our dog world its known as having your anal glands emptied. I’m not sure why I’m telling you my intimate details but as there may be others out there suffering in silence like me – I thought I’d ‘man up’ and share. This isn’t a problem shared by all dogs, many can go though life without having to think about their glands at all.
What are the signs of anal gland issues
In my case I wasn’t showing any of the typical signs of the disorder, which include:
dragging your butt on the floor
excessive licking and/ or biting of the behind
a foul smell
chasing our tails
licking paws, both front and back
But some of the above can result in fishy smelling breath and that’s when my pawrents realised something wasn’t right. After all I regularly clean my teeth!
Natural activities of the anal glands
Us dogs can’t voluntarily empty our anal glands. That happens naturally when we need to go, if you know what I mean. These glands excrete fluid that helps us mark our territory. Occasionally these glands fill up. A common reason for this is a result of a period of diarrhea. Glands fill due to insufficient pressure being excreted to empty the glands naturally. Some dogs can’t empty their glands and if the fluid is left to thicken they can get blocked. This isn’t a breed disorder so it can happen to the best of us.
Emptying anal glands
Full anal glands can be uncomfortable and sometimes painful if they become infected. Luckily I avoided an infection but if your dog is showing any signs of anal gland problems then contact your vet. Your vet will empty the fluids and if necessary, your vet can teach a pawrent how to do it if it becomes a chronic problem. Our anal glands normally need emptied around every 6 weeks. Be aware that applying pressure to an full or inflamed anal sac could cause the gland to rupture – that sounds painful – so should not be carried out without the right training to do so. There is a great article written by vet Marc Abraham published on the kennel club site www.thekennelclub.org.uk/health/for-owners/anal-gland-impaction that talks about anal gland impaction in dogs: its treatment and prevention.
High fibre diet
The good news is I’ve discovered porridge and its good for me. My new high fibre diet should bulk me out and assist in the natural gland emptying process.
My pawrents went through a really hard time with me when I was biting as a puppy. Out of nowhere, suddenly every time we went for a walk I liked to dig my little teeth into my pawrents legs and not let go! Apparently it hurt like hell!
My parents tried most things: standing still, turning their back and ignoring me. Squealing like a dog, clapping or making a loud noise. I just held on strong and kept tugging away. They tried to hold me away from them but it just felt like more of a game, and I could reach most wrists. Then, they tried placing me at the other side of the wall or gate. Now this worked – I couldn’t get at them but I found a way round this – open spaces like in the middle of a field where there is no getting away from me. I win!! Or so I thought. Actually to tell you the truth I can barely remember these incidents and certainly wouldn’t have wanted to cause any pain. I even caused my own pain, as at one point I cracked a tooth trying to bite off a buckle from a welly boot still attached to my pawrents leg.
I had entered into phase of over stimulation. I’d got myself so over excited that my hyperactivity was resulting in me behaving erratically, running around and chewing or biting things I wouldn’t normally show interest in. It was like I had been possessed and nothing could coach me out of it. During these times we can appear to be aggressive and some people mistake that we are biting because we are fearful. In my case it was just that I was over excited and had become mouthy and nippy. We play bite with other dogs all the time, I just didn’t realise I shouldn’t do this with my fellow hoomans; they don’t like it. And if you bite too hard sometimes they cry, especially that one time I pierced their skin.
Toning down the stimuli is the solution but sometimes this is difficult when you don’t know just what exciting things on a walk may cause it, or you’re not familiar with the signs from your dog.
Understandably, my pawrents were at their wits end and didn’t know what to do. They begun to investigate getting professional help and started sharing their challenges with other dog owners. Listening to similar stories from some friends and colleagues they heard about one solution they hadn’t tried that may have potential. Some remedies for one dog won’t necessarily work for another, as we’re all different, so it’s trial and error.
The answer in my case was a can of compressed air. Yes you read correctly – not hot air but compressed air in a tin! When I entered into the phase of overstimulation, my parents were able to refocus my attention and get me out of my fixated state by letting off compressed gas into the air. It made a hissing sound that shocked me. I suddenly woke up returning to the adorable soft puppy that I was, and wondering what the hell had just gone on. But it worked a treat. It kept me, my pawrents, and potentially others safe from any unintentional harm. It took 2-3 weeks for me to outgrow this stage and allowed my pawrents to notice the tell tail signs of the beginnings of my over excitement. This allowed them to stop, sit me down, and stroke me for 5-10 minutes to avoid my hyperactivity before continuing on our walks. Everyone was happy and to think I’m such a friendly softy today. I will only lick you when I’m excited and potentially hit you with my very waggy tail; unintentionally of course. The excited tail can’t be tamed and who’d want to come home to a dog with no friendly, so happy to see you, waggy waggy tail!
As a puppy it often felt like we had just got going on my adventures rambling the local countryside, when we we would turn round and go home. It turns out it was for my own good. The vet told the pawrents that puppies, particularly Labradors, are prone to issues with joints (mainly shoulder and hips) and should only be walked for 30 minutes at a time with sufficient rest (minimum 30 mins) in between walks. Who knew! Is this why a pit stop at the beer garden was invented?
Concurring the stairs aka My Everest
For the same reason I was never able to tackle those stairs until I was 1 year old when my bones and joints had developed. Although many times I was keen to concur that Everest but when I did I’m so glad I was prepared!
It was difficult to entertain me at a young age when I had so much energy and a couple of bouts of ‘crazy puppy hour’ a day. I enjoyed the brain games we played. You know; the usual, sit, lie down, we missed out the roll over but we played guess which box the treat is under, hide and seek, and watch me (a staring contest). It was heaven.
Small step for man a giant leap for dog!
Watching you watching me..
Coming ready or not…
A whole load of treats for the simplest of things but turns out this was pre-school. I’d been tricked – played like a dog. I was being trained on my basic manners. I thought it was a game where I play the human to get a treat. Anyway I’m sure the mental stimulation has developed me into a marvelous young dog and it was fun.
Surf the web there are loads of ideas for DIY brain games for us doggies – have fun my friends. And feel free to post some ideas for my fellow hoomans and their puppies in the comments below?
My pawrents were introduced to the secret by another puppy owner and have been passing it on ever since. The secret of frozen carrots! There’re like the ice lollies of the doggy world. They sooth the gum, taste great and apparently are rich in Omega 6 fatty acid, vitamins A and K and potassium. So maybe more like a frozen yogurt than ice cream! Hopefully this will distract your bundle of joy from chewing up everything and anything in the house to chewing on some nutritious veg.
Watch out they are also high in fibre so not too many or we’ll have a different type of trouble!
Ice cubes work too, very handy if you’re in the local pub or beer garden….
What’s your teething tips? Feel free to share below.
Head back for another installment of tips from my time as a puppy next week.
Every puppy and dog is different. What works for one doesn’t always work for another – that’s why you love us – we’re all so unique!
Mastering toilet time
I was lucky I was toilet trained in 3 – 4 weeks. Not bad eh! I think taking me out every 2 – 3 hours to get me in the habit of going to the loo outside came at a cost for my pawrents. Having to keep a constant an eye on me, and getting up 2-3 times in the night to take me out.
I’m sure the sleep depravation and increased grumpiness vs. me leaving surprises in the house was worth it. Typical Labrador I’m very easily convinced by the praise and treats for always doing my business outside. Any time I thought about doing it inside I heard a very strong NO and was quickly escorted off the premises to the garden! The technique isn’t for everyone. One of my fellow doggie friends is leaving treasures at seven months – she’s in trouble!
According to the wizards on the World Wide Web a puppy can hold their toilet time in hours equal to their age plus one. This means a two month old puppy can hold their toilet for three hours.
Puppy training pads
My Pawrents once tried those doggie pads for toilet training. Apparently they’re not for eating. I got my family a little worried when I digested one, something about worrying that it would absorb all my fluids, get stuck in my intestine track (this sounded bad to me) and not come out the other end. Luckily there was no need for the panic as some many hours, which seemed like days later there it was a little bit worse for wear! I think I only just avoided a trip to the VET by the skin of my teeth that day! Although I like the VET, I get treats there and I get very excited about seeing other different looking animals (what the hoomans call cats and rabbits) but apparently that’s not normal?
If you’d have any tips to share regarding your training, or want to talk about your experiences at the VET pen a comment below? It would be nice to hear your story. Sharing is caring……….
Head back to the blog next week for another installment of tips from my time as a puppy.