Anal Gland Problems & Treatments in Dogs

At times you may notice that your dog is scooting across the floor. Dogs do this when they are itchy and when there is some problem in their rear side. However, if you see them doing it regularly, it may be a concern and may require immediate attention. If your dog scoots on his bottom across the room all the time, there are chances he may be suffering from anal gland problems. Thus, the first thing that you need to do under such situation is to consult a veterinarian and get them examined. Anal gland problems if not treated at the right time may cause severe damages to your dog’s health.

What are anal glands in dogs?

These are the small pouches found between the internal and external anal muscles, located on either side of the anus. Also known as anal sacs, they are lined with apocrine (sweat) and sebaceous (oil) and glands. The anal glands in canines fill with fluid that has a specific scent that differs in each dog. This is the main reason why dogs smell one another when they meet.

Problems in the anal glands in canine

Usually, the liquid inside the anal glands is emptied during the bowel movement of your dog. Problems occur when they are unable to drain the fluid out. When the fluids in the organs do not pass quickly, it thickens inside and may cause a blockage. Thus, clogging up that area. Under this situation, the glands would start swelling and become painful for your dog. There is no direct health challenge adhered to this situation. Yet, your dog may become very uncomfortable and may lead to other infections. Fido may also end up hurting themselves by scooting on the ground.

Inflamed anal glands also make it difficult for the dogs to pass their bowel, and they might end up constipated. The swollen glands, if not treated well, may lead to the formation of an abscess. This causes an infection that may lead to bleeding. Furthermore, causing your pup to lose their appetite, weight and overall health deterioration.

There are three major anal gland problems in dogs.

– Anal gland impact

Here the fluid in the glands fail to pass through the bowel and it thickens while inside. The thickening of the fluid causes blockage inside the tube that empties the sac, which may lead to constipation and discomfort.

– Infection

If the fluid fails to pass out, it will cause swelling of the glands and infection. This situation is harrowing for your dog. The disease causes a build-up of bacteria inside the gland. If the infection is not treated at the right time, it may lead to the formation of an abscess.

– Abscess

The most painful situation your dog would suffer from is an infection in the gland. If not treated immediately, it will lead to an abscess. The abscess has the potential to spread and bleed and formation of pus. Usually, a veterinarian would address this by cutting a small incision and letting the fluid drain out, followed by cleaning of the area with anti-infection ointment.

Though all the breeds of dogs are susceptible to this problem, it is most commonly seen in smaller kind of dogs namely Dachshund, Toy Poodle, Pugs and Chihuahuas. However, irrespective of the breed, you must always be careful and alert when it comes to perineal problems.

promotes healthy anal sac and gland function in dogs

Symptoms of anal gland problems

Mentioned below are few signs or symptoms that may indicate anal gland issues.

Pain in the glands: Your dog would experience excruciating pain while passing bowel or even while sitting down. They will whimper, avoid pooping or sitting straight, and would become restless and anxious all the time. If you notice discomfort, you need to get them checked.

Swelling: You would notice that the anal glands of your pup are swelling and changing color. There may be a formation of hard masses in the bottom, which can be felt externally. So, examine carefully and timely.

Scooting: Your dog will start scooting all the time while dragging their bottom over all kinds of ground. The moment your dog starts to scoot look for infection in their rear area. Be careful, as a lot of dogs tend to get hurt in the process.

Tail biting: This may appear funny at the beginning, but if your dog does this repeatedly, it may be a sign of anal gland infection. As the disease tends to spread, it would also lead to itching and irritation.

Biting or Licking: Any infection leads to itching. Your dog would constantly lick or chew their rear side and may cause more problems. Therefore, if you see your mutt biting their rear, get them examined as soon as possible. Constant itching of the area may lead to other pressing issues.

Anal gland problem diagnosis

The vets diagnose anal gland problems in canines by examining their perineal area. They would wear disposable rubber gloves and massage the gland area to check for swelling, bleeding or any feeling of discomfort in the pet. This gives them an idea about the kind of problem in the gland, and if it is compressible. Once the fluid gets expressed, it gets sent for evaluation. If the anal gland is already infected, the liquid would be a dark brownish color. Chronic infections and abscesses would cause red-browning secretions.

If there is a mass formation in the perineal area, it may lead to cancer. Therefore, your vet would insert a needle to extract some cells. These cells arrive at a lab for examination, giving your vet a clear understanding of the situation and its treatment. It is recommended to consult a vet for any anal gland problem in your dog before it gets too painful.

How are anal gland problems in canines treated?

If you witness any of the signs mentioned above, it will be wise to take your pup to a vet to take fast action. The vet would try to empty the anal glands by pressing with the fingers. They would try to squeeze the fluid out from the gland. If the glands are already infected, he will use saline solution to remove the hardened material and flush the liquid out.

Under situations where there is a formation of abscess, the vet would prescribe a few weeks of antibiotics. During the treatment, they may put your dog under anesthesia or sedation, as the process is comparatively painful. Usually, hot compresses and antibiotics are used to empty the glands. A regular follow-up also is required for the glands to be drained.

If the problem gets worse, the vet may also suggest surgery to remove the glands. Removing the anal glands may be a permanent solution, but it also has its side effects. Once the anal glands are removed, it may become difficult for your dog to control the bowel movement. Therefore, consulting a vet right at the beginning is very crucial, if you do not want the condition to worsen or the infection to spread.

Rear view of a Dalmatian puppy sitting, looking at the camera isolated on white

Post-treatment recovery

After your pup is treated and the vet empties the glands, you need to make sure to take good care, as they would still be under a lot of pain. To make your dog feel comfortable, you can use warm compresses on their real area for at least a week. Repeat it for around 15 to 20 minutes every day. This would also help in soothing the pain and in reducing the swelling. Your dog may also require stool softener in certain situations. However, use it only when prescribed by the vet.

Home remedies to ease anal gland problems in your dog

– Increase fibrous diet

This is one of the convenient and most effective ways to relieve your dog from anal gland distress. All you need is to add fiber and calories to their food. Fibrous diet is helpful in smooth bowel passing, as it softens the stool.

– Increase fluid intake and moisture

If your dog is not very eager to drink water, you can add more liquid to their everyday food. Make drinking sessions interesting by introducing creative drinking bowls or fountains. Also keep a puddle nearby for your dog to take a splash or two whenever they are in a playful mood.

– Keep them fit with exercise

Make sure the dog gets their daily dose of exercise. Keeping them fit would help them with a healthy bowel system and would also enable them to pass their bowel easily.

Wrap Up

Therefore, if you want to keep your dog away from any anal gland problem, you must take care of their health and wellness. Get a healthy dietary plan from the experts and keep your dog fit and healthy. Add fiber to their diet and do not skip their exercise.

About the Author
Adarsh Gupta is a proud father of 2 Pomeranians and French Bulldogs. He always looks forward to sharing his experience in dogs with other dog parents. He also makes the recommendation on all kind of breed and their training in his site:


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