Urine Samples, Anal glands, and Dandruff: The Truth About Your Dog’s Dirty Little Secrets

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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