Signs Your Dog May Have Anal Gland Issues

Anal gland issues can cause discomfort and irritation, not to mention mess (if you know, you know) so fully understanding what they are, what they do, why dogs have them and being able to recognise that problems are occurring with them is essential. Luckily for you, we don’t find any topic too gross here at Grub Club and we are more than happy to share all of our inside knowledge on anal glands…

What Are Anal Glands, and Why Do Dogs Have Them?

Right, so first things first, let’s shed some light on what anal glands are and why dogs have them.

Anal glands, also known as anal sacs, are small, sac-like structures located on either side of a dog’s rectum. These glands play a vital role in a dog’s communication and marking territory, much like how they use their sense of smell to navigate the world.

The glands produce a secretion that dogs release when they defecate, leaving a unique scent marker. This scent serves as a form of non-verbal communication, helping dogs establish dominance and even providing doggy information about their age, gender, and health to other dogs in the neighbourhood. Yes, these stinky things really are incredibly useful and clever!

Symptoms of Anal Gland Issues

Now that we’ve got a basic understanding of what anal glands are, let’s move on to the signs that your canine companion may be dealing with anal gland issues. Have you noticed any of the following symptoms?

  1. Scooting: If your dog starts scooting their rear end across the floor or grass more than usual, it may be an indication that their anal glands are bothering them. Scooting is an instinctual response to alleviate the discomfort caused by full or infected anal glands.
  2. Excessive Licking or Biting: Dogs are quite flexible when it comes to self-grooming, but if you notice your pet obsessively licking or biting their hindquarters, it might be an effort to relieve discomfort stemming from their anal glands.
  3. Foul Odour: A distinct, unpleasant odour (we can’t describe it, you’ll know, oh you will know!) emanating from your dog’s rear end could be a clear sign of anal gland issues. If you catch a whiff of something particularly pungent, it’s time to investigate further.
  4. Bad Breath: Believe it or not, anal gland issues can lead to bad breath in dogs. This is because they may try to lick or clean themselves excessively due to discomfort in their anal region, and this can lead to the transfer of the unpleasant odour to their breath. Yummy!

What to Do If You Suspect Anal Gland Issues (and How to Prevent Them)

If you’ve noticed one or more of the above signs and suspect that your dog is experiencing anal gland problems, there are several steps you can take to address the issue and hopefully reduce the likelihood of recurrence.

  1. Diet: A balanced diet that promotes regular, healthy bowel movements can help prevent anal gland problems. Consider feeding your dog high-quality, hypoallergenic, fibre-rich complete food that can aid in keeping their anal glands naturally expressed during bowel movements.
  2. Regular Exercise: Encouraging your dog to stay active is another way to prevent anal gland issues. Exercise can help maintain a healthy digestive system and support regular bowel movements, which in turn may help prevent the glands from becoming impacted.
  3. Visit Your Vet: If you suspect your dog has anal gland issues or if you notice any of the symptoms mentioned earlier, it’s essential to consult your veterinarian. A vet can perform a proper examination and, if necessary, express the anal glands to provide immediate relief for your furry friend. They can also offer guidance on managing the issue and preventing its recurrence.

Anal gland issues are a really common in dogs, but they can be effectively managed and prevented with the right care and attention. By recognising the signs and taking proactive steps, you can ensure that your four-legged friend stays comfortable and odour-free (phew!)