Urine samples, Anal glands, and Dandruff: The truth about your dog’s dirty little secrets

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When most people get a dog, they think of the fun times they will
have with their new furry companion. But there are many things that
aren’t so pleasant that we as dog owners must consider to keep our
friends happy and healthy.

So you go to the veterinarian, and your doctor asks you to bring
along a urine sample from your dog. Your first question is
probably, how do I do this? The easiest way to accomplish this is
to tape a Tupperware container to the end of a yard stick. While
your dog is out doing his business, get the container underneath
his urine stream. This is easier to do with male dogs than female
dogs but you can usually get a sample with one or two tries. Your
veterinarian will want as fresh a sample if possible. If you will
not be taking the sample to the vet right away, keep it
refrigerated until you bring it in. Your veterinarian will be
checking the sample for a variety of things like bacteria and
crystals. If bacteria is found, this might mean that your dog has a
urinary tract infection, and most likely your vet will put your dog
on a course of antibiotics. Crystals form in the urine whenever
minerals bind together. There are several different kinds of
crystals and these are most often treated with prescription diets.

Why does your veterinarian ask for a stool sample? Frequently,
intestinal parasites are found in dogs. They can get these by
eating fecal matter from another affected animal, carcasses, or
other unsavory things. You will want to bring in a fresh sample.
The doctor will look at it under the microscope looking for
telltale eggs of parasites. The most common are roundworms,
hookworms, whipworms, and tapeworms. Several of today’s monthly
heartworm medications also protect against roundworms and
hookworms. If you live in the country or your dog is outside a lot,
he may need to be treated with a wormer on a quarterly basis for
tapeworms. Other diseases like coccidia, can also be seen under the
microscope from your dog’s stool sample.

What are anal glands? The anal glands are two small glands located
just on the inside of your dog’s anus. They secrete a foul smelling
liquid. Most of the time, your dog will empty his own glands while
defecating. In some dogs, however, the anal glands do not empty
properly and become impacted. If your dog is scooting a lot or
licking his hind end often, he may have a problem with his anal
glands. Make an appointment with your veterinarian. He will check
the anal glands by touch with a gloved hand. If they are full, he
can manually empty them. You can learn how to do this yourself at
home. Some dogs need to have their anal glands manually emptied on
a regular basis. Some owners choose to have their dog’s anal glands
surgically removed. This often helps the problem, but if you choose
to do this, discuss the possible outcomes with your veterinarian.
There is often a risk of fecal incontinence if this surgery does
not go properly.

In dogs, sometimes dandruff is just that – dandruff. This can be
caused by skin allergies, nutritional deficiencies, or improper
grooming. But sometimes dandruff can be more. Dandruff can be a
sign of a parasite called mange. There are a few different types of
mange: a) Demodectic Mange which is caused by a mite. This mite is
present in all dogs and rarely affects them adversely. Sometimes
however, there can be an overabundance of these mites causing skin
irritation and hair loss. b) Sarcoptic Mange which is caused by
another type of mite. A female mite will bury herself in your dog’s
skin and lay eggs. When the eggs hatch, the cycle will begin again.
Sarcoptic mange, also known as scabies, causes severe skin
irritation and hair loss in dogs. It is easily treatable. c)
Cheyletiella Mange is caused by a large mite that lives on the
surface of your dog’s skin. This infestation is also known as
“walking dandruff.” Cheyletiella mange is easily treatable with
topical medication and causes minor skin irritation.

It’s important to know about the less pleasant things that can
cause your dog health problems so that you are properly educated
and can recognize signs and symptoms. This will ensure that you
keep your dog as healthy as he can be.

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