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All About Anal Gland Impaction in Dogs

Few things bring as much joy in life as much as bringing an endearing puppy into your home. You may have succumbed to endless pleading from your kids or you may have fallen in love with that “little doggie in the window” at the pet shop or local shelter. Whatever your reasons for acquiring a dog are, the last thing on your mind is anal glands and what they mean to you as a dog owner.

All dogs have anal glands or sacs on each side of the anal opening. The function of these glands is to produce scent to help a dog mark their territory. When a dog defecates, the gland secretes fluid onto the stool basically sending a message to all canine passersby that “Fido was here”.

Sometimes the anal glands fail to empty normally and this results in anal impaction. If left untreated, the situation can rapidly deteriorate and lead to more serious complications such as ruptures, infection and anal gland carcinoma. Most owners prefer to delegate the task of dealing with impacted anal glands to their vet or dog groomer as it is a smelly and unpleasant job to deal with.

Signs that indicate that your dog may be suffering from an anal gland problem include “scooting” – your dog will drag his back end across the floor, biting or excessive licking of the anal area and keeping his tail tucked between his legs. Inflamed anal sacs are very painful and uncomfortable and your dog will generally seem very restless and ill at ease.

You may find yourself having to deal with the situation yourself and you will have to manually “milk” the gland to help relieve your dog from this very painful condition, this is what you should do:

Prepare a warm moist towel or wash cloth and locate the anal glands, they are at approximately 8 and 4 o’clock positions in relation to the anal opening. Position the cloth over the area and gently apply pressure with your thumb and index finger on opposite sides of the gland. Squeezing your fingers toward each other should empty the gland, wipe it clean and do the other gland. Once the glands are empty, that’s it, you’re done.

Some dogs need extra help, particularly dogs that are overweight, and you may have to gently insert a finger into the rectum to express the area internally. Your dog may not appreciate this and because he is already in substantial pain, this may best be left to a professional.

The fluid is dark colored and very foul smelling so be sure not to get any on yourself as the smell is very hard to get rid of.

If the discharge is bloody or contains pus this could be a sign that there is an infection and you should take your dog to the vet. Your vet will probably prescribe oral antibiotics and an antibiotic ointment treatment for your dog.

Anal impaction is more prevalent in small breed dogs but can occur in any sized dog. Proper diet and exercise can help prevent anal gland disorders. Dogs need fiber in their diet to produce larger sized stool which aids in emptying the anal glands naturally. Common sense and paying attention to your dog can go a long way in ensuring you have a happy, healthy pet.



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