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Anal Glands and your dog!

Many pet owners are stumped the first time they notice the pungent, fishy odor coming from their pet. it may be your dog anal glands.

What are anal glands you ask? The anal glands, or anal sacs, are two small glands ranging from about the size of a pea to the size of a grape. Their openings are located just inside the anus and are positioned at about 4:00 and 8:00. They create a smelly secretion that can range from being a thin liquid to a thick paste. They are primarily believed to be a scent marking gland that marks when your dog poops. It is your dogs specific scent marker. When another dog comes along your dogs poop. That is how they tell one dog from another. It’s your dogs way to have a specific scent unique to them. The glands will also express if the pet is nervous or startled. As a groomer, I can attest to this, as I’ve had dogs scared by a blow dryer or not wanting their nails trimmed. They release their glands, and their is a sour fish smell. Just imagine a skunk spraying you by surprise. Its not so fun.

What are symptoms of anal gland problems?

  • Scooting - Uncomfortable or full anal glands are a common cause of scooting. Skin irritations, allergies, and skin infections may also cause your pet to scoot, so it is important to have your veterinarian assess the scooting if it is a repeated problem. Some dogs with very normal size glands will still scoot and benefit from having them emptied.

  • Licking the area

  • Swelling or redness of the skin over the glands

  • Fishy odor smell

If your dog is unable to express their glands normally when they poop. Their glands may be having a problem being able to express naturally on their own. Also a good thing to check is your dogs diet. The only way the glands can express naturally, is if the stool passing by is firm enough to push the secretions out. If your dog has consistent loose, unformed stool, it’s not applying the needed pressure to express. Feeding a higher quality diet and maintaining a healthy weight will help keep your pet’s rear end happy. Overweight dogs have insufficient muscle tone and extra fatty tissue back there, which doesn’t allow the stool to get up close and personal with the glands on its way out. Switch your pet to a high quality diet that makes firm stool for dog.

If you think your dog has a problem, A veterinarian can do a rectal exam to check and see if the glands are full. If they feel they need to be manually expressed, they can do it quite easily by lightly squeezing inside each gland Inside your dog. It’s not pretty, and it definitely doesn’t smell good, but having your vet or vet tech express the glands internally is the best way to ensure it’s done properly, and without too much force.

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