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Understanding Dog Anal Glands

Jennifer Hudson
January 10, 2020
Understanding Dog Anal Glands

Dog anal glands are small sacs located on either side of a dog’s anus, just under the skin. They are about the size of a pea and are connected to the outside through small ducts. These glands are lined with cells that secrete a fluid that has a distinct, unpleasant odor.

The primary function of dog anal glands is to mark territory and communicate with other dogs. When a dog defecates, the glands release a small amount of fluid, which helps to deposit the dog’s scent on the feces. This scent helps to identify the dog to other dogs in the area.

However, sometimes the fluid in these glands can become too thick or too concentrated, which can cause discomfort or even pain for the dog. When this happens, the glands need to be expressed or emptied manually.

Some dog breeds are more prone to anal gland problems than others. Breeds with short legs, like Dachshunds and Corgis, are at higher risk of developing anal gland issues because their anus is closer to the ground, making it more difficult for the glands to empty properly. Breeds with soft or loose skin, like Basset Hounds or Bulldogs, may also be at higher risk, as the excess skin around their anus can make it more difficult for the glands to empty.

Signs That Your Dog’s Anal Glands Need to Be Expressed

Anal gland problems in dogs can be uncomfortable or even painful for your pet. Being able to recognize the signs of anal gland problems can help you get your dog the help they need. Some common signs of anal gland problems include:

  1. Scooting or dragging their bottom along the ground.
  2. Excessive licking or biting around the anus.
  3. Foul odor: A strong, unpleasant odor coming from your dog’s rear end can indicate anal gland issues.
  4. Pain or discomfort: Your dog may show signs of pain or discomfort when defecating, sitting, or walking.
  5. Swelling or discharge: If the glands become infected or abscessed, there may be visible swelling or discharge around the anus.

Common behaviors associated with anal gland problems include:

  1. Restlessness.
  2. Agitation or irritability.
  3. Loss of appetite.
  4. Lethargy.

If you notice any of these signs or behaviors, it’s important to take your dog to the vet to have their anal glands examined. Anal gland problems can be easily treated if caught early, so don’t wait to seek help if you suspect your dog is experiencing issues.

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