Care and Treatment of an Anal Gland Dog Problem

Table of Contents

Overview | Symptoms | Treatment | Q&A


"Symptoms of an anal gland dog problem occur when the canine anal glands are unable to empty naturally. Symptoms include odor, a dog scooting the rear across the floor and other signs of discomfort. Treatment includes antibiotics for any infection, and manual manipulation of the sacs to drain any fluid. Long term relief is achieved with a higher fiber diet and the addition of a natural remedy to the diet, to name two. The dog anal sacs should be examined as part of regular veterinary care to ensure that they are emptying properly."

Overview of Canine Anal Gland Problems

Anal gland dog sacs are two small glands situated just below and to either side of the anal opening. They manufacture and secrete a fluid that is used to mark territory. When the anal glands are healthy and your dog is bathed regularly, the anal glands do not have much of a smell to humans, although other dogs can smell them well. That’s why dogs like to sniff each other’s behinds – that’s part of how they recognize each other, from the scent of the fluid produced by the anal glands, which is unique to each dog.

Canine Anal Glands
Dog Anal Diagram
The pictures in this section are reprinted with permission by the copyright owner, Hill's Pet Nutrition, from the Atlas of Veterinary Clinical Anatomy. These illustrations should not be downloaded, printed or copied except for personal, non-commercial use.

Symptoms of Anal Gland Dog Problems

Symptoms of anal gland problems usually include a bad smell. The glands can become impacted or infected, causing them to produce a thicker than normal fluid that has a bad odor. Dogs may attempt to lick or bite at the area if they are experiencing discomfort. Your dog may also “scoot” across the floor on his bottom with his tail up (called scooting). If your pet cries when going to the bathroom or shows signs of pain, then the anal glands may have become infected.

Small breeds are more susceptible to anal gland problems than large breeds.

Diagnosis of Anal Gland Dog Problems

Impacted and infected dog anal sacs are common anal gland dog problems. Your vet will be able to diagnose them just by examining your dog. No special tests will be needed.

Rarely, cancer can develop in the anal sacs. This is more common in females than in males. Cancer of the anal sacs is diagnosed with a biopsy (skin sample). A needle is used to extract some cells from the tumor, and those cells are then examined under a microscope.

Treatment of Canine Anal Gland Problems

Treatment of anal gland problems is usually pretty straight forward. If the glands are impacted (backed up), they can be manually expressed (emptied). Your vet can do this, and he or she can show you how to do it so that you can do it yourself in the future if needed. Your vet will show you how to use your fingers or a thumb and forefinger to gently apply pressure on either side of the anal opening - on the outside of the glands. Press inwards and upwards and you should see the fluid being expressed.

If your dog frequently has problems with his anal glands becoming clogged, your vet may recommend changes to his diet. A high fiber diet may be recommended in order to make his stool more bulky. This will cause his stool to help express the anal glands when he defecates. You might also try Pet Alive AnalGlandz to treat infected anal glands in dogs naturally. It is a 100% natural, safe effective herbal remedy for preventing unpleasant odors and promoting anal gland health.

If the glands are infected, antibiotics will be prescribed for your dog. Infected glands will probably need to be expressed manually until the infection has cleared up.

Cancer usually occurs in only one of the anal sacs. If your dog has cancer of an anal sac, he will need to have the tumor surgically removed. The surgery has a high rate of success at curing the cancer.

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