Whether you realize it or not, if your pet has ever drug his rear end over your carpet, you have probably encountered the anal gland.

A developmental remnant, anal glands in the canine species are not quite as highly evolved as those of the skunk, but they serve a similar purpose:  to relay a message with a smell. Sometimes, however, things go awry and Town & Country Animal Hospital is here to help with whatever may arise.

Anal Glands Explained

Just inside the rectum of every dog (and cat for that matter) lie two small sacs (one on each side) called anal glands. These sacs hold the secretions of the sebaceous glands in the area. Sebaceous glands are typically associated with hair follicles which create sebum, an oil that lubricates the hair.

While the skunk has voluntary control over expressing these in order to effectively communicate an unwelcoming message, dogs do not. Instead, these stinky sacs are meant to empty as a bowel movement passes, lubricating the stool and adding a unique scent that communicates information to other dogs.

Trouble in Paradise

Of course a dog’s anal glands do not always operate as intended. If the tiny openings that allow the secretions to exit the sacs become clogged, or if the stool are too soft or dsmall to properly empty the sacs, anal glans can become impacted. Pets with other skin conditions or who are obese are also at a higher risk of trouble.

An impacted anal gland is quite uncomfortable, and, untreated it can become infected or even abscess and rupture.

Occasionally tumors can also form within the anal gland. These can also be uncomfortable, but anal gland tumors tend to be quite aggressive, so early action is key.

Signs that your dog may be having problems with the anal glands can include:

  • Scooting/dragging the rear end repeatedly
  • Licking the rear end
  • Redness or swelling around the rectum
  • Noticeable blood in the stool or on the ground after dragging
  • Painful or reluctant bowel movements
If you think your pet may be having trouble with the anal glands, please call us for an appointment. We can then get started on diagnosing the problem and helping your pet feel better again. It may be as simple as manually expressing an impacted gland, or your pet may require antibiotics or other treatments.

Anal glands may scent the world for our canine pals, but they can also be a pain in the butt– quite literally. Routine wellness examinations, helping your pet maintain a healthy weight, and prompt visits to see one of our expert doctors when a problem arises can help keep your pet feeling their best.