How To Know If Your Dog Has An Anal Gland Problem
Dogs have anal glands located on each side of the muscular wall on the inside of their rectum. The sacs naturally fill with secretions that originate in from the sebaceous glands. Canine anal glands are used as a form of communication between dogs. Communication is the only known function for anal glands.
As a dog owner, you might have already noticed your dog sniffs the ground when they are trying to find a spot to use the bathroom. The scent they are picking up has been released from another dog’s anal sac. Popular theories about the anal sacs in dogs include that it produces lubricant to help dogs pass stool comfortably and it acts as a scent marker for canine territorial reasons.
The scent that is released by the anal glands identify your dog as a male or female, plus reveals their age and current health status that other dogs recognize. The fluid from the anal sacs is naturally excreted when your dog has a bowel movement. Anal sacs that malfunction can’t release the fluid properly which often leads to anal gland problems. Malfunctioning anal sacs can lead to discomfort and painful bowel movements that will persist until the anal sacs are excreted.
What increases your dog’s chances of anal gland problems?
There are a variety of factors and conditions that increase the risk and frequency of anal gland problems such as the following:
- Skin mite infestations
- Deep chronic skin infections
- Environmental allergies
- Food allergies
Food and environmental allergies are a common cause of anal gland problems in dogs. If your dog has chronic anal gland issues check the ingredients in their current dog food and take a closer look at your dog’s diet. Overeating and consuming unhealthy ingredients have a negative effect on anal glands.
Skin infections located near the anal glands causes swelling and discomfort for your dog. When swelling is present the anal glands have a difficult time excreting fluid which causes it to get trapped inside.
Hypothyroidism is a medical term for low thyroid function or hormone levels. This condition has a negative impact on anal glands since low thyroid function and hormone levels interfere with other natural functions of a dog’s body.
As a dog owner, you can prevent your dog from experiencing these conditions by ensuring you feed them a healthy diet and provide them with plenty of exercise that is suitable for their breed.
Symptoms of Anal Gland Problems in Dogs
The following symptoms are signs your dog has an anal gland problem:
- Visible swollen areas around the anus
- Chasing their own tail due to discomfort
- Jumping up from a resting position with urgency
- Rubbing or scooting their anus on the carpet or floor
- Attempting to chew their rear end or the surrounding area
Recognizing if your dog has an anal gland problem isn’t always easy because the signs are often subtle or go unnoticed until the situation is severe. One of the main signs that dog owners ignore is when their dog scoots their anus across the floor. Understandably, pet parents are usually shocked by the behavior but their immediate response is the condition of their carpet or flooring.
Most of the time owners think butt scooting is funny or cute. This is a normal reaction for pet parents, however, when butt scooting across the floor is frequent, it’s time to inspect the condition of the anal glands.
Anal gland symptoms like swelling and redness are visible and an alert they need immediate attention. Swollen anal sacs can reach a point of bursting and a clear sign is a change in colors from red to purple. If your dog’s anal glands suddenly turn purple it means the blood has become congested due to more carbon dioxide than usual.
Knowing if your dog has an anal gland problem involves being observant of your dog’s behavior. Any unusual behavior such as scooting their butt across the floor or excessive licking, chewing and biting around their rear end area are signs you need to take action immediately to help your dog.
Visiting a veterinarian for a diagnosis is recommended. During the office visit, your veterinarian will exam your dog to determine the cause of the anal gland problem and provide detailed steps to solve the issue. A common professional recommendation is to provide your dog with a healthier diet that includes fiber. Sometimes fiber supplements are recommended as well depending on the severity of the condition.
You can prevent your dog from having anal sac problems by feeding them a healthy diet, visiting the veterinarian and observing your dog’s behavior. Always take action quickly to prevent the anal sacs from bursting.
Leslie Brooks graduated from the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine in 2012. After graduation she moved to Indianapolis to do an intensive one-year internship at a specialty practice and then began working as a small animal general practitioner. She ran her own house call practice for three years, visiting pets in people’s homes. Currently, she works part time in clinical practice and volunteering her free time to serve pets of the homeless. Read more about us here.