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Anal gland impaction and infection in dogs

Updated on April 12, 2012

Given the dog’s voracious appetites and the inclination to ingest inedible objects, a dog owner’s efforts to ensure the digestive health of the pet would be concentrated towards giving the right amount of premium quality food. Dog owners would also exert efforts to ensure that the pet is prevented from ingesting non-food items. Not many dog owners are aware that anal gland impaction and infections are also common digestive disorders of a dog. Some dog owners may not even be aware that the pet has anal glands. Are you one of the dog owners that do not know where the anal gland is located?

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Anal gland functions

The anal gland secretes a yellowish to brown liquid with a pungent odor. These oval shaped glands that are situated on both sides of the rectum on the 4 o’clock and 8 o’clock positions are responsible for the distinct odor that identifies the dog from one another. Have you seen dogs sniffing each other’s butts? Unlike humans, dogs don’t really have distinct physical characteristics. It would be rather hard to differentiate dogs of the same breed especially if they have similar coat colors. The odor that is excreted by the anal glands is distinct to every dog thus it serves as the dog’s identification card.

How is anal gland expressed?

Anal gland is normally expressed when the dog raises its tail and when the dog urinates and defecates. The anal glands receive a little push causing the fluid to ooze. The pungent smell is also excreted when the dog is frightened. You will smell a distinct unpleasant odor when the dog is upset.

Anal gland impaction and infection

A dog with an impacted anal gland will be very uncomfortable. The dog will be in immense pain if the impacted anal gland becomes infected. As mentioned, anal glands are supposed to normally excrete the noxious smelling liquid. However, the secretion may get too thick or the anal glands may receive no pressure or too little pressure to allow secretion. This condition usually occurs in dogs that have small anal sac opening and in dogs with recurrent diarrhea as the soft stool will not put pressure on the anal glands. The fluid that is not secreted will accumulate causing the glands to swell until an abscess is formed. Left untreated the abscess can rupture through the skin to allow the fluid and the pus to drain.

Managing an impacted anal gland

The impacted anal glands have to be expressed manually. Expressing anal glands that are not infected will be relatively easy but the reddened and the swollen area around the anus caused by an abscessed anal gland will be very painful. Expressing the anal gland is best left on the hands of a vet or a professional groomer.

Anal Glands in a Dog

Your Pet's Anal Glands


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