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Anal glands

What are they?

Anal glands are sac-like structures found beneath the skin near the anus. Occasionally they can fill will foul smelling secretions, but normally only a small amount of secretion is produced when the animal defecates.  

What is their function?

The function of anal glands is thought to have been for scent marking, although in a modern urban setting they are redundant for this purpose.

Signs to look out for if your dog has problems with their anal glands

There are several tell-tale signs that may indicate your dog is experiencing discomfort with their anal glands.  These symptoms include:

-         Scooting on it’s rear end

-         Licking the perianal area

-         Discomfort when the perianal area is touched

-         Difficulty when defecating, resembling constipation

-         Tail chasing

-         Discomfort when sitting

If you notice any of these signs, or suspect your dog may have a problem with their anal glands, make an appointment to see your vet.  If the secreted matter happens to be pus or the glands are difficult to empty, this may be a sign of an infection or impaction of the anal glands.

Prevention of anal gland problems

If your dog has had previous problems with its anal glands there are products that may help to alleviate the problem, such as Peridale granules, which are a non-prescription medicine containing fibre that helps to control the consistency of stools and manage anal sacs. Adding fibre to the diet works by increasing faecal bulk (making the stool larger), this in turn puts pressure on the anal glands as the faeces passes out of the anus. A dog with repeated anal gland problems should be regularly checked by a vet, and the glands expressed as frequently as required. If you know that your dog has had problems with is anal glands in the past be especially vigilant for signs like scooting or excessive grooming around the anal area, and see the vet straight away as soon as you notice them.