What are anal glands and what are they good for?
Every dog has glands in their bum called anal glands. When a stool is passed, the stool squeezes against the anal glands which in turn secrets an oily substance that is a liquid usually light brown in colour. This glandular substance contains a scent which dogs use to mark their territory, kind of a personal perfume so other dogs can smell whose territory they are entering. That is why you will always see dogs sniffing where another dog has gone toilet. On a more functional point, it also acts as a lubricant to make stool pass easily and without tearing the rectum during motion. Under normal circumstances no dog should not have any problems with their anal glands. Unfortunately due to a combination of inbreeding and wrong diets, emptying of the anal glands have become a very common problem. It has become such a common thing in fact, that most groomers offer emptying of anal glands as part of their grooming service.
There are ways to aid healthy anal glands, which apart from the fact that it will save you money, it will also make your dog feel a whole lot better. If engorged anal glands are left untreated, your dog will become miserable and unwilling to have a bowel movement. At worst, one or both glands will burst through the anal wall which will mean hospitalisation with a combination of surgery/medication.
Due to inbreeding, some breeds have problems with their anal glands all the time. This is due to the location of the gland which have moved. While taking all the precautions may not cure their problems fully, it will alleviate it and keep it from bursting, allowing you to manage it. If your dog is prone to gland problems, keep a good eye on signs and have them emptied regularly before it gets to bursting point!
1-2-3 Aid for Anal Gland Problems
- 1 High fibre
Increasing the fibre content of your dog’s diet means that the stool will be firmer. A firmer stool will put more pressure on the anal glands when passing through which means the glands has less chance to become engorged.
- 2 Less fat
Try to limit the amount of scraps you feed. If you are able not to give in and feed only food high in fibre content you will be amazed at the results.
- 3 Exercise
Regular exercise has a whole lot of benefits. For the purpose of helping healthy anal glands, when you exercise you also stimulate the digestive system. Give your dog plenty of fresh air and activity.
Anal Gland Warning Signs
Look out for the following signs which are all give-aways that your dog are suffering from anal gland problems:
- Dragging bum
- Fierce licking
- Foul sweet smell
- Excessive farting
- Leaking fluids
- Crying when going toilet
- Blood or puss
Dog’s with a chronic anal gland problem should be watched very carefully. Breeds particularly prone to anal gland problems are Cavalier King Charles, Beagles, Pugs.