Is your dog scooting around on the carpet? Do you notice him excessively licking around his anus? Well if you are seeing this, most likely your pet’s anal glands are full. Dogs and Cats and many other animals do have these glands. Sometimes these glands can become impacted, infected, or abscess. Affected animals may scoot on the floor, lick, or have problems with defecating.
These glands are located on each side of the anus. There is a tiny duct that leads from the gland under the skin to an opening directly beside the anus. Dogs use it primarily for territorial marking or as a form of communication. When a dog or cat has a bowel movement, the stool will press against the glands and this pressure will cause the glands to release. The substance in the glands is a watery fishy smelling liquid. If you notice a thick, dark or reddish pasty substance, this may be a sign of an infection. Once this secretion is deposited on the surface of the stool, other cats and dogs can now tell who has been there. Each dog and cat produce a unique scent, this is why you will see them smelling each other in the general area of the anus. It is a way to recognize each other.
So why are they scooting on the floor? When these get full it can become itchy. Commonly people think that this is a sign of worms, but it is not. They are applying pressure to their rears to try and express the glands on the floor. If you looked closely, you would probably see the secretion on the floor. Some pets, especially smaller dogs may need extra assistance with expressing the anal glands. Many groomers will express the glands externally when the dog is in grooming. This means that they will squeeze each side of the anus to express the fluid out of the glands. This sometimes is just enough to empty the glands. Sometimes if a dog has difficulty with their glands even after expressing by a groomer, they may need to be expressed internally by a veterinarian. If a pet has difficulty with their anal glands, this may be a sign of a problem. Anal glands can become infected and fluid can thicken, which will cause difficulty for pet to express on his own. A pet may need to be put on antibiotics if they have an infection. Sometimes if the anal glands get too full they can abscess and may burst. This will cause an open sore around the anus, that will need medical attention.
If you have a dog that has chronic problems with their anal glands, surgery may be an option. Their anal glands are surgically removed and therefore, will not have problems with them filling up anymore. The only issue that may come up is that other pets won’t be able to identify them by scent anymore. Bringing in your pet for maintenance grooming is a great way to help reduce the build up of the glands and will help avoid the scooting around the house especially when you have guests over. Feeding a high fiber diet or supplement can also assist. The fiber can cause the stools to be more bulky, which can help to apply the pressure on the glands that is needed. If you would like to have your pet’s anal glands checked, please give us a call to schedule an appointment. (714)771-3261