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Dogs/fluid filled cyst and anal glands


My dog a Bichon Frise (Snowball) almost 16 years old, has two major problems. The cyst on his left leg continues to fill with fluid, it has been drained several times but fills up immediately, it is the size of a tennis ball and it is hard for him to sleep as he cannot lay his head/chin on his leg. It is painfull if he trys to cross his leg or try to rest his head. It does not hurt so much when he walks unless it gets too full of fluid and he starts to limp. He had surgery once but now I think that he is too old to go through it again. The other major problem is that his anal sacs fill up so frequently. It is now on a weekly basis that I haave them drained. He has been on antibiotics and pain meds for the anal glands but this is giving him more problems than the cyst. At this point I do not know what to do next. He eats well, goes outside when he needs to,  he is lovable and I do not want to give up on him yet. He also has Cushings that was diagnoised 3 years ago and it is under control with the meds. His vision is bad and I think that hs is beginning to lose his sense of smell but he has the energy to go on and he has not given up. His pain stems from the anal glands and the discomfort of the cyst, I am not ready to give up on him because he has not given up. Please offer some advise as to how I can decide on my next step.


Hi Shirley,

It doesn't sound like you're anywhere near needing to consider "giving up" on your dog. It sounds like he still has a good quality of life! For a 16 year old dog, one would expect some health concerns. It's good you're controlling his Cushings. I had a dog that had Cushings, and he lived to be 18!

It's really common for cysts to refill after they've been drained. At your dog's age, he may not be too old for surgery to remove the cyst, you shouldn't automatically rule it out as an option.  Talk it over with your vet. If he is in good health otherwise, there are different kinds of anesthesia that could be used which would be easier for an elderly dog to tolerate. Your vet will probably want to do some blood work to check your dog's liver and kidney values to ensure he could tolerate anesthesia. Also, sometimes, cysts can be removed under a local anesthetic. Talk about this possibility with your vet. Aside from removing the cyst, the other option is to continue to drain it, as you've been doing. Your vet might be able to show you how to drain the cyst at home.

You didn't say what you feed your dog. To prevent cyst from growing back, your dog should have a diet that is low in fats. You should also make sure his skin is clean and remove the skin oils and dirt that may facilitate the occurrence of cysts. There are special cleaning wipes for dogs with oily skin. Feeding your dog a quality diet containing real meat and higher in fiber will create harder stool that excretes the anal glands more completely, and can relieve the symptoms. A good (and easy) way of introducing fiber to a dog's diet is by feeding him one or two pitted prunes everyday.
Ask your vet about infusing Panalog right into the anal glands. Some dog owners have said that works well for chronic anal gland problems. You can also "express" your dog's anal glands at home, here's how:

I hope I've been a help.
Best of luck,



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To date, I've owned 7 dogs, all of which have lived into old age. Having cared for them in all stages of life, I feel I can offer sound advice to other pet owners, and people considering getting a dog. I am knowledgeable about the AKC (American Kennel Club) dog breeds, training and exercise, caring for sick and elderly pets, feeding, as well as many holistic treatments pets can benefit from. My only request is that you write me using standard English and punctuation.


My life experience in this field is more like "on the job training" rather than an actual degree in animal welfare. You may benefit from my experiences over the past 30 years. Aside from the dogs I've owned, I'm also involved in "breed rescue" and have fostered several dogs, all of which have been adopted to wonderful "forever homes". I find helping people who want a dog very rewarding.

Real life experience, based on over 30 years of dog ownership.

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