Anal Glands


Caught your dog doing the booty scoot on your favourite rug, then read on or download a free copy of our Anal Gland management here

Whether it’s that or excessive licking of your pet's hind region is what brought you here, it's likely that your dog's anal glands need attention.

While that's probably the last part of your dog's anatomy you'd like to pay attention to, the fact is that anal gland problems in dogs are fairly common and often the cause of dog scooting problems.

Why and what are anal glands

Your dog's hind end includes two small sacs located on the inside of their rectum, one on each side within the muscular wall. These sacs gradually fill with secretions from sebaceous glands — the same glands found at the end of hair follicles that are responsible for unwashed hair becoming greasy.

The 2 real functions these anal glands are known to serve is:

  • doggy communication: they're what dogs sniff when they say hello to each other.
  • whenever your dog does a number two, as it makes it easier for your pet to pass stools.

When they're working properly, these glands are emptied when your dog does their business.

Clinical signs of anal gland problems in dogs

  • scooting and discomfort of the rear end.
  • excessive licking of the anal area and hind end.
  • straining to defecate.
  • releasing a sudden foul (fishy) odour.
  • leaking of anal gland fluid.
  • bleeding and/or swelling near the anal region.

What causes Anal Gland problems in dogs?

There can be many underlying causes of anal gland problems, and in many cases, it is because of a combination of reasons. The most common underlying cause of anal gland problems is:

  • poor gastrointestinal health. In order for anal glands to empty, they need firm and healthy stools to create pressure on the glands as they pass over them.
  • poor diet and lack of bones - Diet is often a major factor in anal gland problems.
  • poor quality bowel movements can contribute to anal glands becoming impacted.
  • underlying allergies (including Atopy). Allergies in pets manifest as red and inflamed skin. This can affect different areas of your pet (ears, paws, belly, etc) including the area around the anal glands (perianal region).
  • your pet's anatomy. If your pet's anal glands are positioned abnormally (typically too low or too far internally) it can become difficult for the glands to empty on their own.
  • constipation and diarrhoea can produce stool that isn't sufficient for the task of emptying the anal sacs. Underlying gut issues may be the cause of variations in your pet’s stools.
  • hereditary malformations of the anal glands could also be a cause.
  • chronic skin conditions, including yeast infections, skin or food allergies or infestations of skin mites, may increase a dog's chances of developing chronic anal gland problems.
  • overweight and obesity.
  • over expressing of the anal glands.

Other contributing factors include low thyroid function and although it's less common, a tumour could be to blame. It's also possible that unnecessary anal gland expression, as is sometimes done routinely by groomers, could create scar tissue that prevents the glands from being able to empty themselves. If this might apply to your dog, talk to your groomer to make sure your pup's glands aren't being unnecessarily expressed on every visit, which could do more harm than good.

6 helpful tips to reduce anal gland problems in your pet:

  • feed your pet a high-quality diet with the proper species appropriate ingredients and nutrients is critical to ensuring healthy stools and healthy anal gland function. for some guidelines about a healthy diet. Basically, the fresher the food the better. Raw is best, then home-cooked, then dehydrated or freeze-dried, then HIGH QUALITY canned, and lastly dry kibble - again, high quality is essential. For high-quality raw foods see Dishy Dogs raw food meals;
  • add fibre to your dog’s diet – such as freshly ground raw vegetables and fruits will help bulk up the stool;
  • include fresh bones in your dog’s diet as this will assist in firming up their stools, e.g. brisket bones, chicken necks;
  • add omega oils to their diet — the Omega 3 fatty acids can be anti-inflammatory and thus help with skin inflammation and anal gland impaction. For high-quality omega oils see Dishy Dogs Omega Boost;
  • add digestive enzymes to your pet’s food. Most holistic veterinarians recommend using digestive enzymes whenever feeding processed (dry kibble or canned) or cooked food. For a high-quality digestive enzymes see Dishy Dogs Digest it Pet.
  • add a high-quality probiotic which will assist in regulating your dog’s stools. For a high-quality probitotic see Dishy Dogs Probiotic Pet.

Dishy Dogs is certified “Australian Made and Owned”. Our ingredients are of the highest quality and are 100% human grade, preservative free with no added salt, sugar, flavour or colours.