Do you catch your dog “scooting” their bottom along the floor? Or licking under the tail? Or maybe you have seen swelling around the anus. These are signs that indicate potential anal gland issues.
What are anal glands you may ask?
Anal glands, also known as anal sacs, are located under the skin orientated at 4 and 8 o’clock to the anus. They produce a strong-smelling secretion containing a unique scent to every dog. When your dog defecates, some of this fluid is released from the sacs on to the stool. This strong odour plays a role in scent marking, so whenever you see dogs sniffing each other’s tail end, they are checking identity.
What can go wrong?
If the secretion becomes thickened, the little ducts can become blocked. Especially in small dogs, it is not uncommon for their glands to become “impacted” and the secretions build up inside. This can lead to a painful infection causing swelling and redness under the tail.
If left untreated, the infection may progress to an abscess which can then increase in size and pressure, eventually rupturing to release pus and blood. This is a very painful condition, often requiring surgical drainage to clean out the area and allow healing.
What to look for?
Common signs include:
- Scooting (dragging their bottom along the floor) in an attempt to alleviate the irritation of the anal glands
- Excessive licking of the anal area as swollen glands can cause discomfort
- A swelling under the skin near the anus
- Blood and/or pus discharge near the anus (see vet asap)
What can I do to avoid Anal Gland problems in my dog?
- If you suspect your dog may be in discomfort from anal glands, call for an appointment for an anal gland expression or to check-up for further underlying causes.
- Feeding a high fibre diet may increase the bulk of the stools, and help evacuate anal gland secretions.
- Maintaining a healthy ideal weight for your pet.
Do not ignore the symptoms, as when left untreated, the glands may become impacted or infected again and can be very uncomfortable for your dog.
Some dogs are more prone to recurring anal gland problems. Our experienced vets at Hall Veterinary Surgery are happy to discuss management strategies for you.