I'm sorry to hear that your dog is unwell.
I'm a bit surprised that your vet did not prescribe an antibiotic because there's a good chance, if it hasn't occurred already, that the glands will become infected. As for whether the problem will correct on its own - it's possible. I would just keep a very close eye because he's at high risk of infection.
There are some things you can do at home to help speed the process along, but I would monitor this VERY closely. The swelling should be going down and the situation should be improving. If this is not the case, you need to get back to your vet. So I would be photographing and/or measuring the lumps daily to monitor progress.
Here's more than you ever wanted to know about anal gland problems and how to fix them:
Here's what I think occurred when he got ill: when he got ill, or if he eats unfamiliar foods (something he doesn't eat every day), it causes a degree of digestive tract upset. This isn't uncommon - if you ate the exact same food everyday, your stomach would become upset too if you ate a new food. So, when a virus moves in or when a new food enters the intestines, it causes some irritation and inflammation. The body's natural response is to get the food or virus out of the body as soon as possible - it's a protection mechanism. So the food moves through the digestive system quicker than normal, and therefore, the intestines do not absorb as much water from the food. This is what causes loose stools and diarrhea. When a stool is looser than normal, it does not apply pressure on the anal glands, and the anal glands, and then fluid begins to accumulate.
I think a good possibility of what caused your dog's problem is sort of related to the soft stool issue that I just mentioned.
Normally, the glands discharge a liquid. But when the liquid stays inside the glands for an extended period of time, it thickens. So a dog who has thicker or pasty anal gland excretions is likely having a difficult time naturally removing the fluid. Furthermore, the thicker, pasty fluid is harder to naturally excrete - I think this may be the case with your dog - so the pasty fluid builds up, causing discomfort, infection, and you may also see the dog to scoot, lick at the area and of course, there's the terrible odor. This is difficult to resolve naturally, but soaks in the bathtub will help significantly (I'll get to that in a bit), as it will soften the liquid and promote natural expression.
A dog with soft stools or thick excretions would be more likely to develop an infection or accumulation of fluid, that then leaks out randomly. I think that your boy may have a case where the fluid has accumulated and thickened, making it difficult to express, uncomfortable and prone to infection. Soft stools don't provide sufficient pressure on the glands, causing the fluid to accumulate and eventually get infected. Symptoms of a problem with the anal glands, such as an infection, include odor, scooting, licking at the area of the rectum or sudden and unexplained changes in bathroom habits. A dog suffering from an infection may also exhibit more generalized symptoms, such as weight loss, poor appetite, lethargy and depression, and a general off-colorness. Here's a good couple links that goes over some things to check:http://dog-care.suite101.com/article.cfm/how_to_tell_if_your_dog_is_sickhttp://animalhusbandry.suite101.com/article.cfm/signs_of_an_infection_in_your_pet
WHAT TO DO:
* Begin by altering your dog's diet (gradually mix in the new food over a couple of weeks) to the higher quality food. Don't switch him all at once - this will give him diarrhea and worsen the problem! (Some vets forget to mention this) A poor quality food results in softer stools, and the softer stools don't naturally drain the glands.
* Give your dog high-fiber vegetables. Carrots work the best. Many dogs will chew at them like a bone. If they're not so cooperative, you can mince them and mix them in with their normal dinner. This is another great way to give fiber, in addition to the pumpkin, which usually works great.
* If your dog is out of shape, get him walking regularly. Dogs who are out of shape and don't have good muscle tone have a more difficult time emptying the anal glands, since the muscles play a big role in this process.
* Soak your dog's rear end in the tub for about 15 minutes. (Put her in a sitting position) Warm water with epsom salts (one cup of salts per two gallons of water) can help liquify the fluid inside the sacs, making the draining process much easier. Note that the salt can be drying to the dog's skin, so apply a bit of mineral oil after the bath. Do this twice a day for two days. As I'll mention shortly, this is one measure that I would try with her, as I suspect there's probably more fluid present - it's just thickened so it's not draining naturally.
* After two days, begin applying warm compresses of water and epsom salt to your dog's rear. Do this for 15 minutes twice a day for a week. If you can't get your dog to sit in the bath, this can work as an alternative.
* Following the bathtub soaks and/or compresses, put a washcloth or paper towel over your dog's anal opening. Put the palm of your hand and rock it back and forth, applying a bit of pressure. This will help the glands empty naturally without actually manually draining them.
* You should also learn to drain the anal sacs yourself. (Some full service groomers will do this as well, so if you're squeemish, this could be an alternative to the vet.) This can be done after the bathtub soaks and/or compresses.
If you'd like to try to drain the glands yourself, here's what to do: Lift your dogs tail. Position a washcloth or paper towel over the anal opening. Position your fingers on either side of the glands and apply pressure while you move your fingers over the glands, toward the center. I would wait to do this for a couple days - let the swelling go down for a couple of days and let the natrual draining process begin before you try this.
There's a good diagram and write up on expressing the anal glands this website: http://lowchensaustralia.com/health/analsac.htm
The following link will take you to an animation that will show you where the anal sacs are positioned (at approximately the 8:00 o'clock and 4:00 o'clock position). http://vetmedicine.about.com/gi/dynamic/offsite.htm?site=http://www.marvistavet.com/html/anal%5Fsacs.html
For more information on the types of problems that can occur with the anal glands, visit http://www.vetinfo4dogs.com/doganal.html
So, with all of this in mind, at this point, I would recommend getting him in a warm tub for a nice long soak for his bum. You may want to try this twice a day for your dog when he experiences gastrointestinal upset in the future. And I would be doing it twice a day until this resolves. We should assume that when he gets sick or eats an unfamiliar food, his stools will be softer than normal, and this will cause improper gland drainage, so taking the extra step to soak his rear end in the tub to soften the liquid, and then express it.
Here's a good article on anal glands that I recently wrote:http://petcare.suite101.com/article.cfm/causes_of_pet_anal_gland_problems
I hope your boy is feeling better soon! Don't hesitate to let me know if you have any additional questions!
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