Champion Pet Foods Responds to Class Action Lawsuit

Champion Pet Foods, makers of Orijen and Acana dog and cat foods, recently had a lawsuit filed against them for “false advertising” among other charges. The Class Action lawsuit with consumers in Minnesota, California, and Florida, claims that Acana and Orijen have levels of arsenic, mercury, lead, cadmium, and Bisphenol A (BPA) that were undisclosed to consumers.

This lawsuit is based on findings from the Clean Label Project, a group that uses “bad science” (Forbes, 2017) to award star ratings to foods based on testing done in an independent lab, but does not release or publish its data unless you purchase it and sign a nondisclosure agreement (RawFeedingCommunity, 2017). On the Clean Label Project’s website, you will find brands like Purina, Freshpet, Hill’s Science Diet, Iams, and Pedigree with 5-star ratings, and 1-star ratings for brands like Nulo, Lotus, Fromm, Petcurean Now, Petcurean Go, Orijen, Acana, Earthborn, and Nature’s Logic.

The Clean Label Project uses fear, uncertainty and doubt as a “disinformation strategy,” according to Forbes, and continues to gain traction among recent “clean” trends in both human and pet food industries.

Champion Pet Foods shared its response on March 19, assuring consumers that they are confident in the safety and quality of their products, and that the so-called “heavy metals” are naturally occurring elements which can be found in miniscule amounts in both human and animal diets.

We will continue to monitor the situation and promptly share any developments that occur.

To read the full lawsuit, click here. To see Champion’s response, click here.

Whisker Stress – Does Your Kitty Have It?

Does your cat pull her food out of her bowl before she eats it, leaving a mess for you to clean up? Or does she eat only a few mouthfuls from the top of her dish and then beg for more, completely ignoring what’s left? You might think she’s a picky eater, but there’s probably a valid reason why she’s doing this, and it’s not just to make your life difficult. She may have what’s called whisker stress.

What is whisker stress?

Whisker stress, also known as whisker fatigue, is caused when a cat’s whiskers are forced to come in contact with the edges of their food bowl or dish. To really understand this issue, you must first understand your cat’s whiskers.

Whiskers provide cats (and all other mammals) with information about the objects they come into contact with. Many cats’ whiskers are so finely tuned that they can even pick up air movement. They help enhance the cat’s senses, particularly short distance vision. Although whiskers look like a type of hair, they’re actually rich in blood vessels and nerve endings, so they’re extraordinarily sensitive. They help cats navigate their surroundings.

A cat typically has between eight and twelve whiskers on each side of her face, as well as shorter whiskers on her chin, above her eyes, and even on her legs.
Each whisker is essentially set up to transmit information about pressure being applied along its length to its base, which contains the follicle and receptors. The tip of each whisker has proprioceptors, sensory organs that are incredibly sensitive to even the slightest pressure. Cats can use their whiskers to determine how far away an object is, where it’s located, and even its texture.

So what does this have to do with your cat’s eating habits?

Because the proprioceptors in her whiskers are so incredibly sensitive, it can actually be painful for her to eat or drink out of a bowl that’s too narrow to accommodate her whiskers without having them touch the sides. Here are some signs that your cat might be experiencing whisker stress:

  • Using paws to scoop food out of their bowls
  • Eating off only the top of the bowl
  • Leaving food in the bowl, but still hungry
  • Meowing at the bowl, standing or pacing nearby although there is food in it
  • Leaving a mess behind on the floor

In all of these examples, the cat is trying to avoid having to cram her sensitive whiskers into the bowl, something that’s very uncomfortable for her.

What can you do to solve the problem?

Luckily, the fix is relatively simple. Just start feeding and watering your cat from bowls that take the span of her whiskers into account. The bowls should be both wide enough and shallow enough that her whiskers don’t touch the sides, even if she puts her whole head in to get food on the very bottom.

An option we offer at the Barkery is Dr. Catsby’s Bowl for Whisker Relief. The Dr. Catsby bowl provides a wide, shallow eating surface that allows food to fall to the center of the bowl, but still provides enough of an edge to prevent food from being pushed out of the bowl.

The high-quality stainless steel bowl is dishwasher safe and includes a cutaway for easy lifting. It can be easily cleaned and won’t harbor acne-causing bacteria like plastic can. The Dr. Catsby bowl is our store cat’s favorite! If you’re experiencing eating issues with your kitty, give this bowl a try.

Nontoxic Flea Prevention

Spring is quickly approaching, which means all kinds of insects start to appear around us and our pets. Here are some great tips to safely keep the biggest dog pest away: fleas.

When your dog ends up with fleas, it may seem easy to grab flea treatment suck as Frontline for your dog. You know the name, but do you know what’s in the product? If you’ve tried these products before, it’s very likely you’ve seen the dangerous effects the harmful chemicals can have on your pet, and possibly you. Children are especially at risk due to proximity and age. So what safe treatments are out there? We have a few here at the Barkery that are both safe and effective.

  • Seresto Flea Collars are our number one recommendation for an effective flea preventative. Whether you’re preventing or treating fleas, Seresto’s unique technology provides your pet continuous protection from fleas for 8 months in the safest way possible.
  • Diatomaceous Earth is a powder for your garden or outdoors. If an insect with an exoskeleton comes in contact with diatomaceous earth, they die. At the same time, humans and dogs can rub it all over our skin, rub it in our hair, and even eat it – and we are unharmed.
  • Cedarcide  is a 100% organic cedar oil product that both kills and repels bugs. It’s great for spraying directly on your pet or around the house.
  • Biopel naturally repels fleas, flies, ants and mosquitos with no harsh chemicals and is safe for use around pets and children.

The National Resources Defense Council has also published a list of safe flea and tick treatments for your dog. Click here for more info.

So keep your pets happy, healthy and flea-free this spring! Stop in the Barkery for 10% off all flea & tick products during the month of March!

March Special at the Barkery

As a family owned company, Fromm Family Foods focuses on what’s doing best for your pet! With Fromm’s wide range of recipes, you are sure to find one that fits your best friends needs, and your budget. March is a great month to give Fromm a try at the Barkery, with great discounts on both dog and cat kibble for the entire month of May:

Fromm Dog Food

  • $2 off small bags
  • $3 off medium bags
  • $5 off large bags

Fromm Cat Food

  • $2 off 2 pound bags
  • $2 off 5 pound bags
  • $3 off 15 pound bags

Fromm Cans

  • Buy one get one FREE!

Plus – get a FREE Primal Bone Broth with any small bag of Fromm! Limit 1 per customer.

Dog Biscuit Appreciation Day

Every dog has it’s day… and this is it.

Nobody seems to know the origin of Dog Biscuit Appreciation Day, but every canine in the world knows the best way to celebrate it. Pets around the globe will be wagging their tails with glee when their owners serve up unusual or home-made doggy snacks to mark the occasion.

With observation of this important holiday, we must also beware of maintaining quality when we choose a biscuit for our own furry friend.

Dog biscuits have come a long way over the years. We make it a point to say this every time we discuss treats: Don’t buy dog treats at the grocery store, unless you also do each of the following:

  • Read the ingredient panel of any treat you consider buying. Pass it by if it contains artificial preservatives and/or colors, animal products from unnamed species, or animal by-products.
  • Check the ingredient panel for foods your dog may be allergic to or intolerant of.
  • Don’t forget that you can use real, fresh food for treats! Offer your dog bits of meat and pieces of fruit and vegetables, and determine which he likes best.

So how do you know if the treats you give your dog are healthy? It’s actually pretty simple. As with every food you buy (for yourself or your dog), it’s all about the ingredients. This article from Whole Dog Journal will give you a few pointers on selecting the right treat for your pet.

What to Look for in Dog Treats

We suggest you start with the ingredient panel. Ingredients are listed on the label by weight; there is more of the first ingredient on the list than the second ingredient, and so on. The first few ingredients on the list are the most significant, since they comprise the majority of the content, they should be especially high in quality.

What constitutes quality in a pet food ingredient? Actually, the same attributes that indicate quality in human food denote quality in pet food. Top quality ingredients are as fresh, pure, and minimally processed as possible. Whole food ingredients are better than by-products or food “fractions.” For example, “wheat” is better than “wheat flour” and “wheat flour” is better than “wheat bran and wheat germ.” The more highly processed an ingredient is, the more nutrients it loses.

Ingredients that are sourced as close as possible to the manufacturer are a plus. Again, they are fresher than ingredients that require shipping from across the country, which is also good for the environment.

Every ingredient on the label should be easily recognizable, and there should be no question what the source is. For example, “meat meal” or “animal fat” could come from just about anywhere. In contrast, “chicken” comes from chickens, and so does “chicken fat.”

Organic ingredients are less likely to be adulterated with contaminants, and they receive extra scrutiny from inspectors. The more organic ingredients, the better.

If a sweetener is used, it should be natural and food-based, and used in moderation. Applesauce, molasses, or honey are better than artificial sweeteners. We don’t recommend any sweetener in dog food, but we’re talking about treats, which are something your dog should only get a few of, and not on a daily basis.

If a treat is preserved, it should contain a natural preservative. Vitamins C and E (the latter is listed as “mixed tocopherols”) are effective and safe preservatives. Some treats contain no preservatives at all; these should be stored properly and used promptly.

Ingredients to Avoid

While you’re examining the list of ingredients and quality components, make sure the treat does not contain any of the following:

  • Artificial preservatives, including BHA, BHT, ethoxyquin, potassium sorbate, sodium nitrate, and calcium propionate should be avoided.
  • Artificial colors. Color is added to dog treats to appeal to you. Your dog does not care what color the treat is, so avoid buying treats that contain these unnecessary (and many believe unhealthy) chemicals.
  • Chemical humectants, such as propylene glycol. These are used in some pet (and human) foods to keep them moist and chewy, and to prevent discoloration in preserved meats. There are more natural, food-sourced humectants available, such as vegetable glycerin and molasses.  Speaking of glycerin: if it’s not identified as “vegetable glycerin” (a food-sourced product), it’s likely to be a petrochemical product – not good.

At the Barkery, we spend time researching to ensure all of the treats we bring in are of good quality and meet the expectations we have for the health of our pets. Ensure you are feeding what’s best for your best friend by stopping in your local Barkery & speaking with a pet nutritionist today!

Raw Bones for Dental Health

No matter what your pet is eating, supplementing raw bones into your pet’s diet can have seriously good effects on dental health. Both cats and dogs can enjoy this delicious, biologically-appropriate treat, but it’s important to select the right bone for your pet. We’re here to give you some guidelines on choosing the right raw treat for your furry friend.

Poultry Necks for Cats

Raw bones help keep your cat’s teeth clean and her gums healthy, but it’s especially important to give your kitty the right kind. Poultry necks are the best choice for a cat, and can play an integral role in their dental hygiene.

Necks are made up of cartilage, ligaments and tendons that act as a form of natural dental floss, while chewing the muscle meat can also help keep teeth clean. The process of grinding and crushing the cartilage actually massages the cat’s teeth and gums, cleaning away food residues and helping eliminate tartar development. This, in turn prevents plaque formation, bad breath, dental cavities and gingivitis.

Poultry necks also provide your cat with nutritional support:

  • The calcium in raw necks is more digestible than most common calcium supplements.
  • A chicken or turkey neck has a calcium/phosphorus ratio of about 1.75 to 1.00.
  • Poultry necks contain protein, potassium, zinc, copper, magnesium, and manganese.
  • They give cats a much-needed external source of arginine, an essential amino acid.

Because poultry necks are made of cartilage, they’re soft and spongy rather than hard. At the Barkery, we have a variety of poultry necks available from Rawsome, OC Raw, and Primal. Although these poultry necks are fairly large, we recommend cutting them into smaller, easy to handle pieces. While our finicky felines are less likely than dogs to gobble down an entire hunk of neck, it’s best to avoid bones of a size that will tempt them to swallow without chewing.

Introducing Poultry Necks

Start small with poultry necks, but cutting down the size to a piece that is slightly bigger than your cat’s mouth. As your cat gets used to handling and chewing on the necks, you can increase the size of the pieces.

Some cats will go into overdrive at first sight of a poultry neck. Our little carnivores instinctively know how to crush and chew a bone. It’s a good idea to get kittens started young with poultry necks so their teeth stay healthy.

It might be difficult to get some adult cats eating bones if they’re not used to fresh meat or already have bad teeth or a dental problem. If your cat displays any discomfort with raw necks, the issue may involve a great deal of tartar and gum recession, and may be time for a dental check with your veterinarian.

If your cat remains unimpressed with your new and wonderful idea, entice her by sprinkling a little tuna juice on the necks the first few times. You can also sprinkle the necks with dry powdered liver or catnip, or rub some canned food on them. A finicky feline may require a few attempts, but don’t give up!

Raw Bones for Dogs

A variety of bone types are generally fed as part of a raw diet. Even if your dog is not on a raw diet, supplementing raw recreational bones containing meat, marrow, and cartilage can satisfy nutrient needs, entertain your dog, and have a major impact on dental health!

Raw bones can provide hours of entertainment for your pup. If you’re worried about the mess, you can feed raw bones inside or outside. If you are feeding inside, it’s best to train your dog to eat it in a particular area, such as on a towel or in the kennel, so that it’s easy for you to wash down the area when feeding time is over.

Choose the Right Size

You must choose the right-sized bone for the right-sized dog. It’s not always as simple as small dog/small bone or large dog/large bone. Observe the way your dog chews and ingests a bone. An 80-pound golden retriever might daintily savor and nibble a chicken neck, while a Pomeranian might try to swallow it whole.

It’s best to choose a bone that is large enough that your dog will not be able to swallow without chewing. After all, the purpose of feeding a raw recreational bone is to clean the teeth.

Introducing Recreational Bones

If your dog is new to recreational bones, it’s best to introduce them slowly to prevent digestive upset. We recommend feeding the bone for about 10-15 minutes, then taking it away. Wait 2-3 days and try it again, but allowing your dog to chew on it for 5 more minutes. Increase the time increments slowly to ensure your dog’s gut is healthy enough to digest the rich nutrients.


Safety First!

You should never cook or microwave raw bones or poultry necks. The benefits of eating bones are greatly reduced by cooking them, and it can actually create dangers. With raw poultry necks and bones, cooking them renders them tougher and more brittle, which means they’ll likely break apart into larger chunks more easily. Your cat or dog may swallow a piece that’s too large to digest, necessitating a trip to the vet.

Broken teeth can occur when feeding bones. Long bones such as femurs are quite hard on the surface, which can result in teeth breaking with aggressive chewers. Flat bones, such as bones found in the spinal column, ribs, pelvis and shoulder, are a better choice for medium to large size dogs because they’re much softer and harder to clamp down on.

Don’t leave raw bones to dry out. They can become brittle and chip, or cause a tooth fracture if your dog continues to chew on them. Let your dog chew on them for a day or two, then toss them in the garbage.

Eating large amounts of bone can cause constipation in dogs. You might see white or yellowish, powdery stools or even yellow, runny stools. It’s important to check on your dog to make sure he’s gnawing on the meat and not chomping down too much bone. If your dog eats more of a bone than intended, just feed him more meat and less bone for the next couple of meals. This will balance out his minerals, including calcium and phosphorus.

Always supervise when you’re feeding a raw bone. This is especially important in multiple-dog households. When a delicious raw meaty bone is present, the behavior of your dogs may change from friendly to aggressive and protective. Many pet owners choose to feed raw bones in separate locations when multiple dogs are present.

Feeding raw bones is an easy way to manage dental health, provide nutrients, and entertain your pet for hours. Imagine your dog having a nice afternoon in the sun, chewing a healthy and delicious treat. You’ll find that your dog is tired and happy after spending the day with a bone, and his belly will be full, too!

Dog Foods Pulled After Investigation Finds Euthanasia Drug

Retailers pulled at least 31 varieties of dog food off the shelves nationwide after a months-long investigation that found the euthanasia drug, pentobarbital.

After releasing the results of lab tests that identified the drug, the FDA launched an investigation. Now, just days later, Smucker’s, the owner of almost all the brands in question, has announced a voluntary withdrawal of products in the canned food lines of Gravy Train, Kibbles ‘N Bits, Skippy and ‘Ol Roy. Retailers, including Walmart, removed it from over 4,000 stores.

For seven months, ABC7 investigated what’s in dog food by conducting hundreds of tests across dozens of brands. Sadly, consumers have no information about what they’re really feeding their pets based on current labeling standards.

Among ABC7’s tests were 15 cans of Gravy Train, made by Big Heart Brands, owned by Smucker’s. Nine cans, 60 percent of the sample, repeatedly tested positive for the euthanasia drug, pentobarbital.

While the levels detected were not lethal, under federal law it is not permitted at any level, and never allowed to be used on animals intended for food. The question remains – how is this drug getting into the food in the first place?

Accusations of the company using “euthanized animals” in their pet food formulas have emerged. Of course, Smucker’s does not like this explanation, and posted on its website that it does not use pets in its food.

Although our customers know better than to feed any of these pet food brands, it’s always important to consider where the ingredients in your pet food are coming from. This topic brings us back to Barkery 101 – our first Barkery U seminar – on what’s in your pet’s food and how to read pet food labels. If you missed it, check it out below!


Feline Nutrition 101

Feline Nutrition 101. It’s more straightforward than the marketing would like you to believe! For National Cat Health Month, we want you to understand your cat’s nutritional needs. There are a couple of basics you ought to know.

1. Cats are Obligate Carnivores

This is a statement you may have heard once or twice at the Barkery. This means that their diets should consist almost entirely of meat. An obligate carnivore is an animal that, by its genetic makeup, must eat the tissue of other animals in order to thrive. In nature, cats don’t eat grains or carbs of any kind. Many grain-free foods are substituted with starches, which are just as bad but allow pet food companies to market as “grain-free.”

Since meat is so important to feline nutrition, the quality of the meat should also be carefully considered. Not all meat is created equal, and how it’s cooked can also make a big difference.

2. Cats Need Wet or Raw Food to Stay Hydrated

Our furry feline friends evolved from big desert cats, and while that’s been happening for millennia certain things haven’t changed. Given the scarcity of water, they adjusted to staying hydrated from the fresh meat of their prey rather than drinking water. This is why most cats aren’t big drinkers.

When cats eat dry food only, they tend to become dehydrated after a period of time. This is because dry food is between only 8-12 percent moisture. Wet food mimic’s a cat’s natural environment by keeping them hydrated through the food they eat. Many common feline health issues, like renal failure and urinary crystals, are a result of a lifetime of dehydration.

3. Cats are Prone to Vaccinosis

Many conventional veterinarians recommend both puppies and kittens get their core vaccines first and annually thereafter. Since vaccinations stay in your pet’s body for much longer than the 1-year recommendation, over-vaccinating  can cause major health problems for your kitty, including allergies, tumors, seizures, and autoimmune problems. To prevent vaccinosis, consider a titer blood test instead. This test shows immunity levels of your pet to the virus which you are vaccinating for, and there is no harm in checking before you vaccinate your animal. This will ensure the health and vitality of your cat.

Hopefully you feel a little more knowledgeable about the health of your cat. For National Cat Health Month, we’re giving away one free can of Fussie Cat to our cat-owning pack members in February! For questions on cat health and vaccinosis, visit your local Barkery and speak with a nutrition specialist today!


7 Tips for Preventing and Treating Dental Disease in Dogs

February marks the start of National Dental Health Month – a time to recognize the importance of oral hygiene to your pet’s overall health. Periodontal disease is the #1 health issue plaguing dogs today. It’s estimated that over 80% of adult dogs over age 3 are affected. Dental disease is a common problem that can directly impact your dog’s vital organs like his heart, kidneys, liver and digestive system.

Aside from the fact that a healthy mouth is good for your dog’s overall health, there’s another strong incentive to keep your dog’s mouth healthy – you’ll avoid having to put him through dental cleanings at the vet every year! It’s expensive, risky, and shouldn’t be necessary if you take a few simple steps to keep your dog’s mouth healthy.

10 Tips to Maintain Your Dog’s Dental Health

#1 Feed a Raw Diet

Feeding a raw diet is the #1 way to ensure dental health for your pet. Natural, raw diets provide the right habitat for your healthy oral microbiome. Natural live enzymes and “good” bacteria can help prevent tartar build up.

Any kibble diet, even premium kibble, can be a direct cause of weak teeth and weak gums. This shocking study done by Australian veterinarian Dr. Tom Lonsdale shows the effects of raw fed dogs switched onto a kibble diet. After only 17 days, dogs who’d started with perfectly healthy teeth and gums got stinky breath, yellow teeth and sore, bleeding gums. 

#2 Feed Raw Recreational Bones

Regardless of whether you are feeding a raw diet, canned food, or kibble, we recommend giving a raw bone to your dog roughly once a week. Easing into feeding these bones is important to prevent digestive upset, and picking the correct size for your dog is just as important! Raw bones are nature’s toothbrushes, and effectively polish and scrape away tartar as the animal crunches and gnaws. Twelve-year-old Barkery dog Cai is showing off his pearly whites in this before and after photo – this progress is after just 6 months of raw bone feeding!Gnawing on bones is not only nutritious and good for your dog’s teeth and gums, but also provides hours of enjoyment, exercises your dog’s neck and shoulder muscles as well as his mouth, and even stimulates his neurotransmitters.

#3 Give a Daily Probiotic Supplement

Probiotic supplements can help create a healthy bacterial environment in your dog’s mouth. A 2009 study published in the Journal of the Canadian Dental Association found that probiotics were effective in treating and preventing dental disease! You can do this by adding probiotics to your dog’s food daily in the form of fermented vegetables or kefir, or you can give your dog a probiotic supplement. One of our favorites is Carna4 Ground Sprouted Seeds, which are 10% off this month at the Barkery!

#4 Brush Your Dog’s Teeth

If your companion eats a well-balanced natural diet all the time, she will likely have strong, clean teeth and gums throughout her life, even without brushing. An occasional brushing is a good idea anyway, even if her teeth and gums appear perfectly healthy.

If your pet does not eat raw foods or bones on a regular basis, plan on brushing at least once a month. If her teeth appear yellow and prone to plaque, then brushing should occur at least once weekly.

Start by choosing a toothpaste and toothbrush designed for use in pets. Begin with brushing the outer surfaces of just one or two teeth per session, concentrating on the upper portions of the teeth along the gumline where tartar typically collects.

Another option is to have our experienced bathers do the work for you! Teeth brushing is an add-on service available to bath and groom appointments, and this month, all teeth brushing services are 1/2 off!

#5 Feed Bone Broth

Make bone broth for your dog and feed it several times a week. It’s chock-full of minerals that really help strengthen teeth and gums. Bone broth contains collagen, which is found both in our teeth and connective tissue that keeps teeth in place in the jaw. It’s also vital for improving bone density, which is vital for healthy teeth. Bone broth is really easy to make, or is also available to buy at your nearest Barkery.

#6 Try an Organic Kelp Enzyme

Thorvin is a mineral rich powder harvested form sea plants. It delivers a wide array of nutrients essential to your animal’s wellbeing, including thyroid health, shinier coats, clearer eyes, and dental health. Sprinkle this affordable powder on your pet’s dinner, and watch your animal thrive.

#7 Dental Care Treats

Some of our favorite dental chews at the Barkery come from QCHEFS. These all-natural dental chews reduce oral bacteria by up to 80%, help reduce and prevent plaque and tartar, and freshen your dog’s breath. These hard cheeses and chews are low in calories, easy to digest, and free of sugar, gluten, grain, lactose, and additives.

Aside from the fact that a healthy mouth is good for your dog’s overall health, there’s another strong incentive to keep your dog’s mouth healthy – you’ll avoid having to put him through dental cleanings at the vet every year! It’s expensive, risky, and shouldn’t be necessary if you take a few simple steps to keep your dog’s mouth healthy.

February is a month where you’re supposed to be thinking about your pet’s dental health. Like us, their smiles need maintenance. Thankfully, we’ve got all sorts of stuff to help. All Barkery dental products are 25% off this month, and tooth brushing services are half price with any bathing or grooming service in February. We’ll see you soon!

Why Does Your Dog Scoot?

Most dog parents are at least mildly horrified when their furry family member scoots across the carpet, an expensive area rug or some other fabric-covered surface.

“Scooting,” as it is lovingly called, signals an itchy or irritated backside. Rarely, the behavior is caused by tapeworms, in which case there are usually other symptoms such as weight loss, poor coat or skin condition, a painful abdomen or diarrhea. Scooting can also signal other problems like a perianal tumor, or irritation caused by diarrhea or a perineal yeast infection, but most often the reason is an anal gland problem.

Your dog is dragging or scooting his bottom across the ground to try and relieve itching or irritation caused by an inflamed, infected or impacted anal gland. In this recent Healthy Pets article, Dr. Becker explains everything you’ve ever wanted to know about your dog’s anal glands, but were afraid to ask.

What Exactly Are Anal Glands?

Your dog’s anal glands or sacs are small and oval shaped, and sit just inside of the rectum on either side of the anus at around the 8:00 and 4:00 o’clock positions. They secrete a remarkably stinky, oily substance. This fluid may function as a territorial marker in the world of canine communication, allowing your dog to leave a personal biochemical mark for other dogs to investigate.

When your dog poops, if the stool is normal consistency, this potent fluid is expelled out of the glands through tiny ducts and onto the feces.

This is an efficient design of nature, but unfortunately, today’s dogs often have loose stools are irregular bowel movements that don’t press against the anal glands during evacuation.

Other contributors to anal glad problems can include obesity where there is insufficient muscle tone and excess fatty tissue, certain skin disorders, and infections. Dr. Becker describes three main causes of anal gland problems: diet, trauma to the glands or the position of the glands.

Problem #1: Your Dog’s Diet

The grains in commercial pet food are allergenic and inflammatory, and the first thing you should do to reduce recurrent anal gland issues is eliminate all grains from the diet. It’s a good idea to eliminate anything containing corn, potato, oatmeal, wheat, rice or soy.

Dr. Becker also recommends switching to a novel protein for your dog. For example, if your dog has been eating only beef and chicken, make a transition to bison or rabbit. A constant diet of 1-2 proteins can trigger a food sensitivity, meaning an allergic inflammatory response. Unaddressed food intolerances are a common cause of chronic anal sac issues.

If your dog’s poop is frequently unformed, soft, or watery, her anal glands aren’t getting the firm pressure they need to empty. Feeding a balanced, species-appropriate diet will address this issue, as well as adding probiotics, fiber, and digestive enzymes by creating consistently firm stools.

Problem #2: Trauma to Your Dog’s Anal Glands

Many injuries to dog’s anal glands are caused by well-meaning but misguided groomers, veterinarians, and pet owners. Although not a routine service at the Barkery, many groomers are in the habit of expressing the anal glands of every dog they groom as part of “included services,” along with cleaning ears and trimming nails.

However, routine expression of healthy anal glands is pointless, unpleasant and potentially harmful. So if you take your pet to a groomer, make sure to mention that no anal gland expression is necessary. Over time, regular expression of these little sacs can interfere with their ability to function on their own.

Many veterinarians immediately express the anal glands if the owner mentions their dog scoots now and then. This approach doesn’t identify or address the cause of the problem, only the symptom. It’s important to identify the root of the cause, rather than repetitively treating the symptom by manually expressing the glands.

The anal sacs are delicate little organs that can easily be injured through squeezing and pinching, and trauma causes tissue damage and inflammation, leading to swelling. Swollen glands can obstruct the exit duct through which the fluid is expressed. If blocked secretions build up and thicken in the glands, it can lead to impaction and anal gland infection.

Problem #3: Poorly Positioned Glands

Certain dogs have anal sacs that are located very deep inside their rectums. As stool collects in the colon, the pressure should cause the glands to empty. But if a dog’s anal glands aren’t adjacent to where the greatest amount of pressure builds in her large intestine, they won’t express properly.

This is a situation that may require surgery to correct because the location of the glands is genetically dictated.

Impactions, Infections, Abscesses and Tumors

When a dog’s anal sacs malfunction, it is most commonly a problem of impaction. This occurs when the oily substance builds up in the glands and thickens, and isn’t expressed, resulting in enlargement and irritation of the glands. Gland infections are usually bacterial in nature and cause irritation and inflammation. As the infection progresses, pus accumulates within the anal gland.

An anal gland abscess is the result of an unaddressed anal gland infection. The abscess will continue to grow in size until it eventually ruptures. For these extreme cases, Dr. Becker recommends infusing the anal glands with ozonated olive oil or silver sulfadiazine (diluted with colloidal silver).

Anal gland tumors, classified as adenocarcinomas, are usually malignant. Occasionally anal gland tumors cause elevations in blood calcium levels, which can result in significant organ damage, including kidney damage.

Getting to the Root of the Scooting

If your pet is having anal gland issues, your vet should work to determine the cause of the problem rather than just treating it symptomatically by manually expressing the glands.

It’s important to try to re-establish the tone and health of malfunctioning glands using a combination of dietary adjustments, homeopathic remedies and natural GI anti-inflammatories. Sometimes manually infusing the glands with natural lubricants or herbal preparations can help return them to normal function.

The goal should be to resolve the underlying cause and return your pet’s anal glands to self-sufficiency. If your pet doesn’t have anal gland issues already, we recommend telling your vet to leave the glands completely alone to avoid future problems down the road.