Chapter 63 — Cookies and Salad

IMG_0050Warning:  Contents include discussion of dogs’ anal glands and regurgitation

One problem with having your anal glands expressed,  as any dog could tell you, is that your butt can be left with an odor humans find offensive, and then the humans try to fix the problem.  More seriously, from a dog’s viewpoint, if the glands are full, expressing them can be uncomfortable.  Given a voice in the matter, most dogs would rather just scoot.

In one human’s view, a dog’s anal glands overfilled with fluid and bacteria smell like rotting carcasses.  Dogs don’t seem to be bothered by the odor.  We’re talking about an animal with a sense of smell many times better than ours, who has no problem sniffing:  other dogs’  rear ends, other dogs’ poop, dead squirrels and rabbits whose decaying bodies have been out in the sun.   In the photo above, Greta checks out a raccoon that was probably run over by a car, as she found it by the side of the road.  How many days earlier had the raccoon met its fate?  Who knows?

Does that mean Greta didn’t object to the cinnamon cookie spray?  Well,  we’ll get to that.

Some experts say the reason canine anal glands fill up, and dogs scoot to ease the discomfort, is that  owners feed their dogs a poor diet.  I’m not sure that’s a fair generalization.  Greta has to watch the fat in her diet—too much gives her diarrhea, and one side effect of diarrhea can be overfilled anal glands.  That’s why we check fat content on store-bought treats, and feed her a dog food that is supposed to help with firmer stools.  But despite best efforts, it seems her anal glands need expressing every six weeks to two months.   My best guess: some dogs are simply more prone to filled anal glands,  just as  some of us are more prone to bad breath or sinus headaches.

On our most recent expedition to the veterinarian, Greta’s glands were full and the end result—literally—was a not-so-pleasant odor.  So the veterinary technician sprayed Greta’s butt with cinnamon and ginger cookie spray.

Poor dog.  We got into the car and drove home amid essence of cookies, which of course reminds the driver that she would love a fresh hot  cookie with cinnamon and ginger.  Poor driver, who has vowed to shed five pounds.

Greta just sat there with her nose to the breeze rushing in through the car window.  But I can guess what she was thinking.  Would the other dogs laugh at a retriever whose hind end smelled like, of all things, cookies?  They would never laugh if she smelled like mud, groundhog fur or disgusting stuff she had rolled in—real dog odors.  Even rotting meat would be better.

Cookie scent reminders are not recommended as an aid to weight loss.  It’s just one day, I said to myself.  The cookie scent will fade.  I can tough it out.

The next morning, Greta still smelled like cinnamon and ginger.   That was too much.  I had to give her a backside sponge bath.

The scent faded gradually.  Greta resumed her prideful place as Alpha among her pack friends.  But the next time her glands need expressing,  both of us—for different reasons—would prefer a spray that smells like unbathed  groundhog.


Spring grass no longer covered in snow.  Irresistible, to Greta and her pack friends.   They munch the tender shoots and then, frequently, throw up.  One theory is that dogs with upset stomachs or excess gas will try to find something to eat that irritates the lining of the throat and prompts them to vomit.  The vomiting then makes their tummies feel better.  Do the Tums® people know about this?

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