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Anal Glands: Symptoms, Treatments & Preventions

The canine anal glands, also known as the anal sacs, are two tiny glands that range in size from roughly that of a pea to that of a grape. The anal glands may be found immediately underneath the canine skin on both sides of the anus. The glands are not easily discernible since they are buried deep inside the muscles of the anal sphincter.

Anal gland functions

The main function of the anal gland is the production of minute quantities of fluids/secretions that can range in color from excellent brown to grey. The viscosity of the liquid varies from runny to paste-like. It is believed that dogs employ these secretions to mark their territory and identify themselves with other dogs so that they can interact with them. These glands produce highly fragrant secretions, which the animal may also release in response to being startled or disturbed.

In some cases dogs may experience issues arising from the anal glands.

Signs of anal gland issues

The following are some of the signs of an abnormal anal gland:

  • Scooting (rubbing anus/bottom on the ground)
  • Suddenly turning their head to look at their rear end.
  • Abruptly sitting down in a pain
  • Nibbling of the anus
  • A putrid, fishy odour to the air
  • Pain while pooping


Issues with the anal gland can have a variety of root causes, including but not limited to the following:

·       Age and Breed

Anal gland infections in canines are more commonly identified in dogs of smaller breeds, such as Poodles, Lhasa Apsos, and Cavoodles. However, dogs of any age or gender might be afflicted by this condition.

·       The Role of Diet/Gut health

A change in diet alone cannot remedy a severe issue with the anal gland that has already been established; however, eating a diet high in fibre and rich in gut nourishing foods may help prevent further episodes of the condition from occurring; when a pet defecates, the solid, bulky stool presses on the colon wall around the anus, which might assist in bringing the contents of the anal gland to the surface.

·       Obesity

Animals that are overweight appear to have more problems with their anal glands than animals that have a lower body fat percentage. This is likely because excess body fat in the anal area reduces the pressure applied to the glands while passing feces.

·       Groomers

There are a few schools of thought addressing the question of whether or not healthy glands should be manually expressed regularly. According to the recommendations of many veterinarians, this procedure should not be carried out on a healthy dog with no history of health issues. However, many groomers make it a regular part of their business to extract the secretions from the anal glands during grooming.

How to treat anal gland issues in dogs?

Anal glands that have become affected may need to express by your veterinarian. To do this, one must manually squeeze each tiny gland until the viscous material is expelled from the gland. It is possible that your pup may need to be anaesthetized in order for the glands to be drained out with saline or a soothing solution. Sometimes a single treatment can be all that is necessary.

Your vet may suggest having your dog's anal sacs surgically removed if the situation is complicated or the impactions keep happening. While this does offer a permanent treatment, there is a possibility that some individuals would experience fecal incontinence as a result of it.

How to help prevent anal gland issues in dogs?

Many anal gland issues stem from poor gut health and gut flora.

Alterations to a dog's diet, items that assist the stool become firmer, and probiotics are just some of the therapies that may be helpful in re-establishing healthy function in the anal glands.

Probiotics work to aid your dog's digestive process. These probiotics are microorganisms that are beneficial to your dog's digestive tract. These microorganisms work by enhancing the good bacteria that are already present in the dog's digestive tract. Prebiotics and other fibres works to bulk & firm the stools & reduce inflammation, helping to natural express the glands and reduce the need for manual expression.

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