Dog Care

All You Need to Know About Dog Anal Gland Problems

Author: Serena Law

Dog anal glands aren’t the most pleasant topic, but it’s an important aspect of a dog’s health. Anal gland problems are very painful, sore and uncomfortable for a dog to experience. A classic symptom is scooting their bum along the ground as an attempt to express feces. If the anal glands aren’t functioning normally, it could lead to infection.

Instead of going into the graphic details, this article explores all you need to know about anal gland problems. We explore how to manually express a dog’s anal glands and changing a dog’s diet to help solve anal gland problems. For now, let’s take a closer look at the causes of anal gland problems and the signs to look out for. 

What are anal glands?

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Dogs have two anal glands located on either side of the dog’s anus. Its function is to create and release pheromones on to the stool. Pheromones are a chemical substance that affects the behaviour of other dogs as a way of communication. This is the reason why dogs sniff each other’s backsides. When feces pass over the anal glands, this causes pheromones to be released. This is often referred as “expressed” anal glands.

Causes of anal gland problems

Problems arise when there is an excess build-up of the anal glands. This happens when feces are too soft. Ultimately this is a result of a dog’s diet, such as too much indigestible fibre, or due to food sensitivity.

Small breed dogs, as well as dogs that are obese, are at more risk of anal gland problems. If your dog has experienced trauma to the area, they will be more likely to develop these issues.

Signs of anal gland problems

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You may not be 100% certain that your dog is having issues with their anal glands. Before taking the next steps, it is important to know what problem you are trying to fix. Here are some common signs of clogged anal glands:

  • Chewing at their rear end
  • Scooting their bum across the carpet
  • Swelling around anus
  • Chasing their tail (if this is new behavior)
  • Jumping up suddenly from sitting or laying
These symptoms are very similar to a parasitic infection or a food allergy. A veterinarian can do a thorough examination in order to make sure clogged anal glands are the real cause of your dog’s discomfort.

Manual expression

When a dog fails to express, dog owners or veterinarians will need to step in and express a dog’s anal glands by hand.

Full Circle Veterinary Care have produced an informational and demonstration video on how to express a dog’s anal glands:

Adding fiber to a dog’s diet

Whether a dog produces soft or firm feces depends on what they have eaten. A great way to help solve anal gland problems is by adding or increasing the levels of fiber in their diet.

While fiber is not considered as an essential nutrient, there is a reason why it is present in almost every dog food on the market. Fiber improves colon health (the large intestine) and aids in weight management. It also helps with diarrhea, constipation and diabetes. Insoluble fiber in particular, helps to firm feces and alleviates anal gland problems.

Final thoughts

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Anal gland problems are sadly not uncommon. The great news is that solving these issues are surprisingly easy. While you may have to give your furry friend a helping hand through manual expression, switching to a high-fiber dog food could be the solution. Fiber has excellent health benefits dogs and will help solidify their feces.

We hope this article has helped you understand and overcome dog anal gland problems. Have you tried a high-fiber diet as a way of helping your dog’s anal gland problems? Or may be you’ve found an innovative solution that we haven’t mentioned? If yes, then we would love to hear from you. If you’re looking for more related content, check out our round up of high fiber dog foods for anal gland problems.