The Stinky Truth about Anal Glands
The Stinky Truth
...About Anal Glands
What are Anal Glands? Why do animals have them?
Anal glands (Also called "Anal Sacs") are pockets or sacs full of a foul-smelling, brown/green colored liquid that are located on either side of the animal's rectum.
Veterinary professionals all over the world have been trying to answer the question of why animals have them for a long time. It is believed that anal glands are used as a form of identification by scent between individual animals. In theory, the fluid that is produced by the anal glands and held within the sacs is what dogs are smelling for when they are sniffing each other's rear end or sniffing other dog's feces.
How do animals express their anal glands?
Naturally, anal glands are expressed when the pet defecates or when they are scared, nervous, or startled. In many cases, however, dogs cannot adequately express their anal glands on their own and need them expressed by veterinary personnel or a trained professional.
How do I know if my dog needs his/her anal glands expressed?
Many times the first sign of needing an anal gland expression performed is the owner noticing their pet scooting their rear across the ground/carpet/grass. This behavior is often mistaken for the animal having worms (endoparasites). If your pet is scooting their rear end take him or her to your veterinarian of choice to have their anal glands checked. Also, some owners may notice a putrid smell coming from their pet, even after washing or grooming them. This can be the anal glands leaking because they are impacted (full of fluid and backed up)
How often do I have to have my dog's anal glands expressed?
This is completely based off of each individual animal's needs. Some dogs may only need theirs expressed every 4-5 months, while many must have them expressed manually every 4-6 weeks. Working closely with your veterinarian to determine a proper schedule for your pet's needs.
Why can't my dog express its own anal glands?
Pets that are overweight, older in age, and have arthritic problems tend to be prone to needing their anal glands expressed manually due to mobility problems. This is not always the case, however. Some perfectly healthy young animals still need theirs expressed and some pets with the above issues can express them without help. There is no specific rhyme or reason why some pets cannot express their anal glands without help.
What if an impacted anal gland does not get expressed?
Impacted anal glands are painful and can be very troublesome if not expressed quickly. Impacted anal glands can become infected and abscess, which then will rupture out of the skin through either side of the rectum. This is very painful for your pet and takes time and medication to heal. It will also be very messy as the wounds will leak infection, blood, and anal gland fluid.
Do cats have problems with their anal glands too?
Yes, it is not as often of a case as we see in dogs, but obese cats or geriatric cats can need their anal glands expressed manually also. This problem usually manifests in licking at their rear end or loose stools. If you think this is a problem your cat is experiencing take him to the veterinarian of your choice to have his/her anal glands checked.