The Well Dog Place

Dr. Ken Tudor Holistic Veterinarian

Dog anal glands need to be expressed. Dog chasing or chewing tail may indicate discomfort.

Basic Dog Care 08 | Anal Gland Health is Important for Your Dog

Does your dog scoot her bottom on the carpet? Does he suddenly and violently turn toward his rear or try and chew under the base of his tail? Does she lift her tail and rub her bottom against the couch or recliner? Does it leave a strong, putrid fishy smell? 

These are all signs that your dog’s anal glands may be full and uncomfortable. Few other problems cause these behaviors in your dog. Anal gland care is an important part of your dog’s skin health.

What are anal glands?

Anal glands are scent glands under the skin near the anal opening. If you visualize the face of a clock, the anal glands are located at 8 o’clock and 4 o’clock below the anus. The glands produce a thick liquid or pasty secretion whose smell is unique to every dog. That smell lets other dogs know your dog’s name. That is why dogs sniff each other’s rear when first meeting. Dog’s squeeze the muscles surrounding these glands squirting the liquid on the ground, vertical surfaces, or scenting their feces. In this way, they mark their presence and territory. But many dogs have lost the ability to clear their glands of the secretion. This is caused by:

  1. Fat infiltration of the muscles that decreases squeezing strength
  2. Pelvic anatomical differences so that bowel movements cannot press the glands and help them clear
  3. Breeding that has reduced anal gland muscle function

Without the ability to naturally express their glands, dogs must use other means of expressing the glands. That is why they scoot, rub or lick and bite the glands. If your dog cannot relieve the glands, the liquid builds up in the gland, becomes infected, and rupture through the skin to the outside. So how do you prevent problems with the anal glands?

Anal Gland Health

Here are some guidelines for maintaining healthy anal glands.

  1. If you have your dog regularly groomed or bathed remind your groomer to check the glands or;
  2. Check your dog’s glands monthly. If you can feel them at 8 and 4 under the skin they need to be expressed or;
  3. Have the glands regularly checked (every 1-3 months) by your veterinarian’s nursing staff

Expressing the glands by squeezing them from the outside is the least effective method of relieving them. The internal expression method is preferred for optimum relief. Internal relief is normally only be done by veterinary staff. However, if you would like to do it yourself, we will teach you. Ask our veterinary nurse at your next visit.

Ken Tudor DVM
Dr. Ken Tudor, Holistic Veterinarian

Dr. Ken Tudor is a recognized expert and leader in the field of pet nutrition and fitness. He has developed a pet weight management program and served on the American Animal Hospital Association task force to develop their Weight Management Guidelines for Dogs and Cats. He is also a frequent guest on the Pet World Insider radio show and a popular guest on the televised Pet Ex Talks-Pet Experts Empowering Pet Parents show.

Basic Dog Care 08 | Anal Gland Health is Important for Your Dog

Basic Dog Care

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