The anal glands are two small glands located to the left and right of your dog’s rectal area. Each gland contains a small amount of foul smelling liquid. The purpose of these glands are your dogs own personal smell.
Every time your dog urinates or defecates they release a minute amount of this liquid. This is predominately secreted when a dog defecates, as the stool is expressed it places pressure on the glands, which in turn secret the liquid on the stool as it passes. You will often see dogs when they greet each other raising their tail and sniffing butts, the raising of the tail also causes a minute amount of liquid to be released, providing each dog with their own personal calling card.
Unfortunately a lot of the lower quality dog foods on the market cause dogs stools to be soft. When the stool is soft it does not place enough pressure on the anal glands, this in turn causes a build up of liquid.
Most dogs do not have a problem with anal glands, however, for those that do, this can result in a lot of discomfort for your dog and sometimes their owner, as this liquid can have a very offensive smell, often smelling fishy. In some cases the impacted gland can become infected and if left untreated can rupture in the form of an abscess. This is definitely an outcome to be avoided.
All dogs during their groom will have their anal glands checked and cleansed if required. Anal cleansing is not always possible in very over weight dogs as the glands can be concealed behind fat pouches. In these cases it is necessary for your vet to do an internal cleansing.
Signs to look out for.
- Your dog scooting around the ground on their bottom (please note that this can also be a sign of worms, see my section on worming).
- Foul, often fishy smell coming from your dogs behind.
- Your dog may also spend a lot of time licking or chewing at their rectal area.
- Soft or messy stools
- Feed a good quality food
- Regular cleansing through grooming sessions or veterinary visits ( note this may only need to be done a couple of times in a year)