Does Your Dog Have Impacted Anal Glands? Here’s What to Do


As dog owners, we have to deal with some foul-smelling things, but anal glands have got to top the list! Anal glands lead to many a vet visit and they’re certainly not something the average pet owner wants to deal with at home. Unfortunately, if your dog develops impacted anal glands, it can be extremely painful, not to mention messy.

What Anal Glands Are

Anal glands are small sacs that are located inside the sphincter. They are lined with oil, and each dog has its own unique scent, which is why you’ll notice that dogs always sniff each other’s rear ends when the meet.

This oil is supposed to be secreted a little bit at a time every time your dog poops. The problems occur when this oil builds up and becomes impacted. If you notice your dog dragging his butt across the floor, there’s a good chance anal glands are a problem.

Unfortunately, impacted anal glands can become infected fairly quickly, even becoming an abscess that comes through the skin. At this point, impacted anal glands become an emergency situation.

Why Dogs Have Anal Glands

The first purpose of anal glands is marking territory. The second is to provide the oil that lubricates hard stools so they pass easily, preventing pain or constipation.

Causes of Impacted Anal Glands

Sometimes dietary issues can be the cause. If your dog’s diet doesn’t include enough fiber, he may not produce normal stools to keep the anal glands functioning properly. The problem is also more common in dogs who are overweight because the extra fat around the glands prevents them from emptying correctly. Sphincter muscle dysfunction could also be the problem, but it’s much less common.

Signs of Impacted Anal Glands

The first sign most dog owners notice is scooting accompanied by a lot of licking of the rear end. You may also notice a strong fishy smell coming from your dog. The glands may even leak a nasty substance. If you notice any of these signs, it’s probably time to call the vet.

What to Do if You Suspect Your Dog Has Impacted Anal Glands

Once a dog’s anal glands become impacted, they need to be expressed manually by the vet or an educated owner. The entire experience is rather unpleasant for all parties involved, but it’s unavoidable.

The vet will wear a lubricated glove into the dog’s sphincter and gently apply pressure to the glands to empty them one at a time. Some dogs don’t mind the procedure at all, while others find it somewhat uncomfortable, and if the glands are infected, it may even be downright painful.

Normally, the liquid will be a solid brown color. If there’s any pus, blood, or yellow in the liquid, the gland is infected, and antibiotics will probably be needed. In some very extreme cases, surgery can be necessary.

Prevent anal gland issues by keeping your dog on a proper diet. If your dog has had anal gland issues in the past, keep a close on them to prevent impaction again in the future.

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