Dog Anal Glands - Getting to the bottom of it


Let's Talk Anal Glands!

A subject our veterinary nurses know all too much about! Bottom-problems can be particularly uncomfortable and are often the result of anal gland issues. It can not only cause discomfort, but can trigger unwanted or embarrassing behaviour, such as your dog 'scooting' on their backside across your living room carpet!

Fortunately, Louise from our Vet Nurse team is here to get to the bottom of your questions ...

What are anal glands, and why do dogs have them?

They are two pea to grape sized glands (depending on breed) located inside your dogs (or cats) bottom. It is believed these would have been used for marking territory, as the smell is unique to each animal.

These glands produce a strong smelling secretion.

What are the common problems that dogs get with their anal glands?

Many dogs can live their whole lifetime without experiencing any anal gland issues, whereas other dogs it can be a constant struggle. Most dogs will experience some periods of issues during their life.

The problems arise when the glands become full or impacted, which can result in discomfort, changed behaviour and a smelly dog! In more extreme cases the glands can become infected with much wider health implications.

Full or impacted glands are usually an easy problem to fix. They can be expressed reasonably easily, which regrettably means a finger up your dog's bottom! It is a quick and simple procedure that is most commonly performed by a veterinary nurse, although some dog owners do it themselves.

What causes anal glands to get impacted?

The most common reason is due to insufficient pressure to empty the glands when going to the toilet.... so a period of loose stools.

Other reasons can be linked to not enough dietary fibre, obesity and pets not getting enough exercise. Genetics is also a large contributing factor.

What are the signs I should look for?

• Biting or licking around the bottom, sometimes chewing their tails or back legs
• Scooting - so shuffling on their bottom
• Red, sore looking bottom
• A period of soft stools or loose stools
• A strong noticeable fishy smell

I think my dog may need their anal glands expressing. What should I do?

Most owners aren't comfortable expressing anal glands themselves, and in those cases it would normally be a veterinary nurse who can best help.

Book an appointment with one of our nurse team to come and visit you at home. We can express your dog's anal glands and give some tailored advice and tip for reducing issues in the future.

Top tips for reducing Anal gland issues:

1) Ensure your pet has a diet containing enough fibre and low in fat - speak to one of our nursing team for food advice to ensure your pets get enough fibre to form firm poos!
2) Ensure you keep your pets at a healthy weight - excess weight can lead to excess fat around the glands which can make them more difficult to express.
3) Exercise can help open up the tubes to the anal glands that lead to the outside.
4) If switching your pet's food is not an option, then adding a fibre supplement to their current food is a great way to help. Please get in touch for information on fibre supplements that we have available.
5) Omega 3 fatty acids can help reduce inflammation and itching when added to your pet's diet. These are available as a supplement - or why not try Specific food which is Fish based, high in fibre and Omega 3 fatty acid?
6) Allergies - many dogs who suffer with food sensitivities will also suffer with anal gland issues. Putting your pet on a diet that avoids any sensitivities will help prevent anal gland issues.

If you have any other questions or concerns regarding your dogs anal glands, then please get in touch and speak to one of our veterinary nursing team.