What are Anal Glands?

The anal glands are small sacs with ducts which lead to the exterior. The lining of these sacs contains numerous modified sebaceous glands that produce a foul-smelling anal sac secretion. In the normal dog, this secretion is squeezed out a little at a time, as the animal defecates, on the surface of the faeces and acts as a territorial marker. The anal gland sacs are located under the tail either side of the rectum.

If the anal glands are not expressed correctly they can become impacted, making bowel movements difficult, painful and can lead to infections or abscesses. Impactions usually occur in small dog breeds and overweight dogs. Some dogs have anal sacs which are too far apart, the dog may have inherited malformations, or there may be a history of poor-quality foods. All of these reasons mean that the anal glands will need to be expressed manually. Some professional groomers do offer this service.


How do I know if my dog needs its anal glands expressed manually?


Dogs withanal gland discomfort show signs of biting/nibbling around their back end, scooting their bum along the floor or a strong, unpleasant odour.


Sacculitis (Anal Sac Infection)


Infection is recognised by a painful swelling on one or both sides of the anus. The anal secretions are thin, yellowish or blood tinged. The dog will scoot, lick and bite at their rear. Seek immediate vetinary attention if your dog is showing any of these signs. 


Anal Sac Abscess


Abscess is recognised by fever and the above signs of anal sac infection. The swelling, usually on one side, is red at first and then later turns into dark purple. Unlike anal gland infections, expressing the anal glands will not reduce the swelling. An abscess often ruptures through the adjacent skin, producing a draining tract. Seek immediate vetinary attention if your dog is showing any of these signs. 


How can I stop my dog having anal gland problems?


Invest in a high fibre diet which will create a bulkier stool. Although if this doesn’t help and the dog is repeatedly getting anal gland infections the glands may be removed. This is usually carried out as a last resort.  If your dogs suffers from anal gland problems then your vet or groomer can express them for you (highly recommended you don’t express them yourself).



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