Your Dog’s Anal Glands – What You Must Know

Most dog owners have seen dogs who either bite at their butts or who drag their rear ends on the ground in an attempt to relieve some invisible discomfort. Most likely, these dogs are suffering from problems with their anal glands.

A dog’s anal glands are sacs on either side of the dog’s anus. These glands produce a fluid which let’s other dogs know information about him, such as his sex, his health status and even his approximate age. When your dog has a bowel movement, these sacs secrete fluid.

But it’s not uncommon for something to go wrong with this process. Sometimes the sacs don’t empty entirely or not at all and they become impacted. When this happens, the dog becomes really uncomfortable and it can make his bowel movements very painful. This is why you will see a dog with impacted anal glands biting at himself or dragging his rear on the ground, as he is doing everything he can to try to rid himself of the discomfort.

So, if you see your dog exhibiting either of these behaviors, it’s time to take him to the veterinarian to get his glands manually expressed. Your veterinarian can teach you how to do it at home if your dog will tolerate it, but be warned as it’s a rather smelly procedure. However, too frequent expression of anal glands can actually worsen the problem!

Make sure your dog has proper nutrition. Your vet may want to put him on a hypoallergenic diet, as food sensitivities are often involved in chronic anal gland problems. Make sure your dog is getting enough fiber and if he is overweight or obese, work with your vet to get him to a healthy weight.

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By Ellen Britt

Dr. Ellen Britt has loved dogs since she was a child. She is particularly fond of the Northern breeds, especially Alaskan Malamutes. Ellen worked as a PA in Emergency and Occupational Medicine for two decades and holds a doctorate (Ed.D.) in biology.

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