Everything you need to know about anal gland issues in dogs

Has your dog been scooting across the room more than usual? It might seem like they’re just playing, but they’re actually doing it for a reason.


This action may indicate that your dog has anal sac disease, which occurs when the anal glands do not function properly. These glands are two pouches located on both sides of the anus. This organ produces brown fluid that helps the dog mark their territory and to identify each other. That is one of the reasons why dogs tend to sniff each other's behind.


However, the anal sac can get impacted and lead to abscess or infection. If you smell a strange odor or witnessed strange behavior like scratching or scooting, then it’s best to go to the vet to find out what’s going on. But first, you can start familiarizing yourself with this health problem so you’re not left in the dark.


Here at Dope Dog, we know how essential it is for your dogs to be calm and in good health. If you suspect that they’re suffering from anal gland issues, here’s a basic guide to understanding what’s behind the symptoms.


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What Are Anal Glands?


Anal glands are basically scent glands called sacs. They are located between layers of muscles that form the rectum and help dogs mark their territory.


A dog’s anal glands release a particular scent that distinguishes them from other dogs, telling other dogs to stay away from their territory. Essentially, these perform a tactic for dogs to communicate with each other without using sound.

How Do Glands Become A Problem?


The most common way for an anal gland to become problematic is impaction, or clogging. This means that the secretions are trapped and cannot be released from the glands. Common causes of anal gland impaction are infection and obstruction. 


Impaction can be painful and uncomfortable and worsen your dog’s health if the issue is left unmanaged. Eventually, it can become an abscess that easily ruptures if the pressure builds up high enough. Fortunately, there are medications that your doctor can prescribe and other alternatives to calm down your dog and alleviate pain while they undergo treatment. 


If untreated, the abscess might require surgical repair to drain it along with other antibiotic medication. Some dogs are prone to constant anal gland issue that requires continuous treatment. 


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What Can Cause Anal Gland Problems?

There are different factors that can cause anal gland problems, such as skin infections with fungus and bacteria. There are other causes, such as food allergies, atopic dermatitis, obesity, and hypothyroidism.

Symptoms of Anal Gland Issues

Common symptoms of anal gland problems are licking or biting at the behind, foul odor, constipation, and scooting. That it why it is always very important to keep an eye on your dog’s behavior. If your dog starts licking and biting themselves more than usual, their symptoms can worsen.  You need to make sure your dog is calm to prevent further damage. A cone can help prevent them from hurting themselves even more. 


Stages of Anal Gland Issues

When a dog poops, the fluid from the anal gland comes out. This helps to alleviate the pressure inside the anal sac. Keep in mind that it prevents the fluid inside from becoming thick and dry, which is known for plugging up the gland. 


Luckily, the impacted sac can be treated by gently emptying them, or expressing them professionally with the aid of a licensed veterinarian. 


An impacted sac can eventually lead to an infection with yellow or bloody fluids. This condition can cause your dog to be aggressive and anxious. When this happens, the vet will have to wash the sac and give your dog antibiotics. This is only a mild and beginning stage, but if left unmanaged, it can lead to an abscess.


When this happens, the veterinarian will have to open and drain the abscess along with prescribed anti-inflammatory and antibiotic medication. You will also have to apply a warm compress to help the area heal.


The last stage of anal sac infection occurs when the abscess ruptures, leading to further complications. If the dog keeps suffering from anal sac problems, then the vet will have to remove it with a surgical procedure. Unfortunately, that leads to complications like fecal incontinence. This occurs when fecal excretions leak out involuntarily.

How to Prevent Anal Gland Problems

There are a couple of things that you can do to prevent anal sac issues from reoccurring. It’s highly advisable to exercise your dog to avoid obesity. You should also make sure that your dog eats healthy because diet plays a significant role in weight loss. 


Another strategy is to add fiber to your dog's diet to keep their bowels well regulated. The easier for them to have a bowel movement, the easier the anal sac can release the fluid. 


Adding omega-3 fatty acid fish oil can reduce the inflammation process in the skin to alleviate the anal sac impaction. If your dog is prone to food hypersensitive reaction, your veterinarian can recommend a hypoallergenic diet to prevent skin issues. Try our Salmon CBD Dope Dropper for your dog, which provides both fish oil and CBD for relaxation and reduced inflammation.

Natural Way to Treat Anal Gland Issues

There are recommended supplements that your dog can take to reduce the reoccurrence of anal sac disease, including providing a diet high in fatty acids and fiber.. 


Omega-3 fatty acid supplements with a high concentration of EPA and DHA can reduce cholesterol and decrease the inflammation process; therefore, reduce the chance of developing an anal sac problem. 


You can also mix a few spoonfuls of canned pumpkin into their meal. Pumpkin is filled with fiber that can help alleviate your dog's anal sack issues along with regulating the G.I. system.


Psyllium can also be an excellent source of fiber to bulk up your dog's stool and to keep their anal glands from impaction.


Glandexis an anal gland supplements that are proven effective in controlling anal gland issues. If your dog frequently has these problems, talk to your doctor to find out if Glandexis can help.

Should You Express Your Dog’s Anal Glands?

Unless you are a licensed veterinarian, you should not express your dog's anal glands. A lot of pet owners often use YouTube videos to help them so they can avoid a trip to the vet, but this can lead to complications and reoccurrence of the anal sac problem.


 Keep in mind that the licensed veterinary can adequately conduct a physical exam to find the underlying cause of the anal gland. If other issues are present that require a particular procedure, then expressing the gland on your own can result in further problems and complications. 


The vet can help you exclude other issues that require prescription treatment. For example, if your dog has an infection and you expressed the gland improperly, then it can do more harm than good. 


Without antibiotic treatment, the problem will just keep coming back and would most likely get worse. The best way to prevent all of this is to take your dog to the vet and let them do all the dirty work.

Final Thoughts

When you look on YouTube, it’s funny how owners record their dog scooting across the carpet along with millions of views and likes. Little did they know that scooting is a sign of potential anal gland issues that requires immediate attention.


Luckily, one or two scooting sessions might mean that your dog has an itchy butt or wants to get your attention, but constant scooting means a potential anal gland issue. 


It’s essential to bring your dog to the vet for an examination if symptoms persist. If there’s an abscess or infection, your doctor may have to drain it or provide antibiotic treatment. 


If the problem is in the initial stage, then the symptoms are most likely to be mild, and the gland would be slightly impacted. In this case, the vet can help express it. 


The best way to prevent this recurrence is through diet and exercise, as well as providing a meal filled with fiber. CBD oil and treats may help alleviate inflammation and soothe their dog as they begin to get better.


With these tips and tricks in mind, you will be able to get rid of the anal gland problem once and for all.


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