Is your dog 'scooting' on their butt or having difficulties passing stool? Anal gland disease could be the culprit. Our Santa Cruz vets explain the causes, symptoms and treatments for this uncomfortable condition in dogs.
Anal Glands in Dogs
Your dog's anal glands are located at approximately 2 o'clock and 10 o'clock beside your pup's anus. These glands are present in both male and female dogs and release a foul-smelling secretion believed to play a role in territory marking. When your dog passes a bowel movement the anal sacs release some of the fluid onto the stool, giving it an odor unique to your dog, and providing other dogs with clues to your dog's identity and diet.
Anal Gland Impactions & Abscesses in Dogs
While many dogs go through life with no health issues associated with anal glands, others can be plagued with recurring anal sac diseases such as impactions or abscesses.
When the dog's anal sacs become plugged they are said to be impacted.
Once the dog's anal sacs have become impacted the fluid within the impacted sacs begins to thicken and the sacs will become swollen and sore, making it painful for your dog to pass a bowel movement.
Blocked anal sacs produce an ideal breeding ground for bacteria. Once your dog develops impacted anal glands abscesses may begin to form due to bacteria traveling up from the feces and entering your pup's anal sacs causing a buildup of pus.
Anal gland abscesses in dogs appear as swollen red and painful areas on either side of your dog's anus. Untreated anal abscesses could result in spreading infection and severe damage to your pup's rectum or anus. If the abscesses burst they will release a greenish-yellow, or bloody fluid.
Causes of Dog Anal Gland Problems
Although anal gland issues are seen in dogs of any breed or size they do tend to occur more frequently in small breeds.
There are a number of reasons why your dog could be suffering from anal gland issues. Some of the most common include:
- Chronic soft stool or diarrhea
- Not enough fiber in diet
- Chronic skin dermatitis
- Food allergies and sensitivities
- Environmental allergies or sensitivities
How to Tell if Your Dogs is Having Anal Gland Problems
If your dog's anal glands have become painful, impacted or abscessed you may notice one or more of the following symptoms:
- 'Scooting', dragging bottom along the floor or ground
- Repeatedly or excessively licking or itching the anal area
- Difficulties passing stool
- Signs of blood or pus in the stool
- Blood or pus near dog's rectum
Treatment for Anal Gland Disease in Dogs
Contact your vet if your dog is experiencing anal sac disease. The treatment for your dog's anal gland issues will depend upon the severity of the problem and whether it is a repeated health concern for your dog.
Common treatments include:
- Your vet may express the anal glands helping to relieve pressure
- Antibiotics may be prescribed
- Pain medications
- Supplements may be recommended such as fish oil
- Dietary changes to increase fiber
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.