Pet Wellness Guides > Tips for Dog Anal Gland Health - Pet Insurance Review

Tips for Dog Anal Gland Health

Posted: 05/13/2024 | BY: Jenna Bruce | Categories: Dog , Health problems , Pet care

Dog anal gland health. It’s not the most attractive topic to discuss, but one that needs airing. So grab your favorite beverage, get comfy, and roll up your sleeves to learn what exactly is going on back there!

What Are Dog Anal Glands (Dog Anal Sacs)?

Dog anal glands are two small pockets—each about the size of a pea—located on the right and left side of a dog’s anus. These sacs secrete a very distinctive foul-smelling fluid. If you’ve ever smelled it, you know what we’re talking about!

Normally, when your dog passes stool, it applies a bit of pressure to the glands and a small amount of fluid is released. This is supposed to happen each time your pup defecates. He may also involuntarily express his own anal glands when they become scared or stressed.

Okay, but why do these sacs even exist? And why does their sole job seem to be to release this horrendously stinky fluid?

The stink is what communicates a tremendous amount to other dogs. Every time your dog poops they are leaving their scent behind to claim their territory.

This is also why when dog’s first meet one another, they cop a whiff back there to gather as much information about each other as possible.

Dog Anal Gland Health Problems in Dogs

Let’s take a look at some of the most common dog anal gland health issues:

Anal Gland Impaction

Impacted anal glands occur when the sacs are not regularly pressed and fluid is allowed to build. This fluid can become thick and eventually clogs the glands. In these cases, the glands usually must be expressed with significant pressure (we’ll get to that in a bit).

Infections and Abscesses

This is a painful condition when the anal sac becomes infected, causing pus to build up inside the gland. An infection can progress to an abscess when the sac becomes so infected it closes shut, causing the gland to be obstructed.

Anal Gland Cancer

Sometimes the sacs can develop cancerous tumors, and it usually happens in older dogs. Certain breeds such as Dachshunds and German Shepherds are at higher risk.

Signs of Dog Anal Gland Health Problems

The following are some of the signs that indicate your pup may be having anal gland issues and should be seen by your vet:

  • Scooting
  • Frequently turning to lick or bite their hind end
  • Straining to poop
  • Showing discomfort when pooping (dyschezia)
  • Not wanting to sit
  • Anal discharge

Dogs might also have the following signs:

  • Crying or whimpering
  • Becoming withdrawn or lethargic
  • Loss of appetite
  • Swelling or redness in the anal area

If left untreated, anal gland impactions, infections, and abscesses can become major issues.

Factors That Increase the Chances of Dog Anal Health Issues

There are a variety of things that can increase a dog’s risk of developing ana; sac issues:

  • Skin problems: This includes conditions like seborrhea, skin infections, and persistent itching.
  • Weight issues: This can range from obesity to being underweight.
  • Digestive issues: Changes in stool consistency, such as soft stool, diarrhea, or constipation, can indicate digestive problems.
  • Parasites: Internal and external parasites can cause a variety of health problems.
  • Allergies: Food or environmental allergies can manifest in skin and digestive issues.
  • Breed predisposition: Some breeds, especially smaller ones, may be more prone to certain conditions.

What breeds are more prone:

  • Toy and Miniature Poodles 
  • Chihuahuas
  • Lhasa Apsos 
  • Cocker Spaniels 
  • Basset Hounds
  • Beagles

Should You Express Your Dog’s Anal Glands?

What happens if your dog’s anal glands become impacted? Should you go ahead and try to express them yourself? The quick answer is no. A vet should really be the only one poking and squeezing back there. And there are some dogs who might have a certain unpleasant reaction to expression to the discomfort, and can you blame them. 

Having said that, there are those situations where a dog may require routine expression and may not be good in the car or at the vet. Taking these pups in to the vet for regular expression may cause more anxiety than necessary. In this case, the vet may give the okay for the pup parent to express in the comfort of their home and offer very specific instructions on how to do so safely.

How To Prevent Anal Gland Issues in Dogs

Fiber and weight management are key for healthy anal glands in dogs. Firm stool from a high-fiber diet and maintaining a healthy weight help express the glands naturally. Talk to your vet about diet changes, fiber supplements, or omega-3 fatty acids to keep your pup comfortable.

While a pet insurance plan cannot add bulk to your dog’s stool, it can add peace of mind to your life. Get a free quote in minutes from the top providers.

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The information contained on this blog is intended for informational and educational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. It is not a substitute for professional veterinary care. Always consult with your veterinarian before making any changes to your pet's health care or treatment plan.

The authors of this blog are not veterinarians and do not claim to be experts in pet health. The information provided here is based on our own experiences and research, as well as information from reputable sources. However, we cannot guarantee the accuracy or completeness of this information.

We encourage you to do your own research and consult with your veterinarian before making any decisions about your pet's health.

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