Under normal circumstances, when a dog defecates, the stool expresses the anal glands and exposes them, thereby releasing the fluid within them and releasing a smell allowing the dog to mark the territory as its own.
Usually, with regular defecation, your dog will be able to empty the fluid which collects in the anal gland, and everything will be fine. However, if your dog is on an unhealthy diet and has been suffering from irregular bowel movements, the fluid within the anal glands start to thicken and eventually block the duct they pass through. Therefore, without proper expression, your dog’s anal glands clog up and lead to further complications such as inflammation and abscesses.
Today, we’re going to look at how your dog’s anal glands work, what signs to be on the lookout for and how you can treat anal gland problems in your dog.
Table of Contents
What is The Normal Function of Your Dog’s Anal Glands?
When the dog excretes, as the stool passes through, it squeezes the anal glands and empties them. Therefore, if your dog has regular bowel movements, you will hardly ever notice any problems. However, if the glands do not empty properly, the trapped fluid becomes thick and can eventually block the duct through which they get excreted. Blocked glands are extremely uncomfortable for dogs – and they become smelly as well. In bad cases, you will notice that your dog drags itself or ‘scoots’ along the ground to try and forcefully the anal glands. With time, the anal glands will swell up with fluid and your dog will be very uncomfortable dealing with the inflammation.
If the sacs become completely blocked, the glands will become infected. This leads to great discomfort for the dog, causes extreme pain, and can make your dog ill. In the most severe cases, the infected glands will form abscesses and eventually rupture. If this happens, seek immediate help from your veterinarian. Through proper treatment, ruptured glands can heal, but the process is slow, uncomfortable, and painful for your dog.
If you leave your dog’s anal glands unchecked and allow them to clog up, it will suffer from infection, inflammation, and in the worst case, ruptured abscesses. To prevent these, ensure your dog has a good diet and has regular bowel movements.
How to Treat Anal Gland Problems in Dogs
Dogs usually give off plenty of signs when they have anal gland problems – you don’t need to keep a keen eye out to spot the signs as they’re obvious. Once you spot the issue, it’s time to treat your dog’s anal gland problems:
- The best thing you can do to treat your dog’s anal gland problems is to work with your veterinarian and follow their medical advice.
- Overweight or obese dogs suffer from anal gland problems. Overfeeding is a common cause of obesity in dogs (especially when you feed them many treats) and not exercising enough. Therefore, to prevent your dog from suffering from frequent anal gland problems, keep it exercising plenty, and avoid overfeeding it.
- Make sure your dog gets plenty of fiber in their diet – you can use canned pumpkin or fiber supplements to introduce additional sources of fiber.
- Add enough fish oils to their diet as Omega 3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory effects which prevent skin inflammation and anal gland impaction.
- Avoid allergic diet as food can lead to hypersensitivity and thereby increase the dog’s chances of suffering from anal gland problems.
- Don’t force expressions of anal glands – rather, focus on improving your dog’s diet and listen to your veterinarian’s advice. Forcing your dog to express its anal glands will lead to inflammation and tissue scarring.
How Do Anal Gland Problems Come About in Dogs?
There are a few things which can lead to a dog’s anal glands becoming infected or impacted:
- Deep skin infections from bacteria or yeast
- Overweight and obese dogs have a higher chance of contracting anal gland problems
- Poor diet and irregular bowel movements
If your dog is suffering from irregular bowel movements, pay close attention to its anal glands as they might get clogged because they are not being emptied properly. When left unchecked, the sacs can rupture and lead to further complications. However, with the right medical attention and care, your dog will get back to normal. And so, pay close attention to your dog and take good care of it.