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Anal Gland Problems In Dogs – Symptoms & Treatment

Anal Gland Problems In Dogs

What Are Anal Gland Problems In Dogs?

You wonder why your dog is doing the booty scoot on your favorite rug repeatedly and how you can make it to stop?

Indeed, anal gland problems in dogs are often the cause of dog scooting problems. As a matter of fact, most dogs have problems with their anal glands, one time or another.

There are times that these anal glands may be completely blocked or impacted, they develop an infection resulting in a cellulitis or abscess or if still not resolved, the glands may rupture.

The only real function these glands are social interaction – the secretion is a sort of doggy communication. They’re why dogs sniff each other’s butts! Each dog's smell is unique to them.

Signs of Anal Gland Problems in Dogs

  • The most obvious sign is ‘Scooting’ – dragging their butt along the ground with their back legs stuck straight out in front, often leaving a stain trail behind them.
  • Nibbling and excessive licking at the rectum
  • Chewing around hip or at the root of the tail
  • Foul odor (a mix of rotting fish and faeces) may be noticed
  • Straining, vocalizing, pain or otherwise having difficulty when pooping
  • Swelling or redness under the skin around the rectum
  • Blood or puss in the stool
  • Spots of greasy, smelly discharge left on the floor, usually tan to brown in color.
  • Excessive tail chasing.
  • Diarrhea

When there is an infection:

  • Chunks/ flecks or thickness or red spots visible in the discharge left on the floor.
  • A split near the anus, discharging green/yellowish or bloody pus.
  • A swelling showing a possible abscess near the anus.

Treatment For Anal Glands Disease In Dogs

As long as there’s no infection present, any dog owner can learn to do this at home but most people leave it to a groomer or vet because of the ick factor. 

External expression:

  • Usually not recommended but some groomers do it.
  • Wear latex gloves and with a tissue or cloth to gently squeeze the anal area from outside
  • Try to massage out the fluid
    It’s usually not possible to completely empty the anal sacs this way.

Internal Expression

  • Wear latex gloves and Insert a gloved index finger into the dog’s anus
  • Find the anal glands at 4 and 8 o’clock inside the anus.
  • Gently apply pressure to each anal sac one at a time( like softly squeezing out a grape from its skin)
  • If the fluid retention in the anal sacs is thick, the internal method is more effective, especially
  • Keep your dog preoccupied or diverted during the process.

If the anal area has an open sore, appears thickened or red, inflamed, or if it is painful or uncomfortable- Let the professional handle the expression as there may be an abscess or infection present.

Home Remedies For Anal Gland Problems in Dogs

These procedures allow the glands to empty naturally if done regularly.

  1. Calendula compress: 1 cup of warm water, a tsp of salt and 8 drops of calendula tincture, soak a cloth and apply it in to the dog’s bottom and make sure the region is dry after the procedure.
  2. Epsom salt or Witch Hazel: 1 cup of warm water infused with 1 to 2 teaspoons of Epsom salt or Witch Hazel. Soak a cloth and hold this in affected region for 5 to 10 minutes, twice per day, every day.
  3. Chamomile teabag: Take a cup of warm water and dip a chamomile teabag, Leave the tea to steep for 10 minutes and then add Epsom salts. Dip a clean cloth and hold it against the swollen area for a few minutes. Continue the procedure every hour or so or until the inflammation has gone down.
  4. Dandelion and Milk thistle: These herbs are the perfect supplements to encourage gallbladder and liver health. They help in digestion, detoxification and waste elimination.

How To Prevent Anal Gland Problems In Dogs?

  • In general, a dog’s anal glands need to be expressed or have to be manually expressed.
  • Check with your veterinarian about creation of a balanced diet or elimination diets to improve poor stool consistency and address any possible food sensitivities.

Dog Breeds Affected By Anal Gland Problems

Lhasa Apsos, Toy Poodle, Miniature Poodle, Chihuahua, Lhasa Apso, Cocker Spaniel, Basset Hound, Beagle, Mostly smaller breeds

Causes of Anal Gland Problems in Dogs

Some refer anal glands as “anal sacs”, these pea sized sacs are on either side of the dog’s anus, at the 4 and 8 o’clock positions. They are between the two layers of the smooth muscle of the rectum and external anal sphincter.

The glands produce an oily, brownish fluid with strong odor that dogs use as "smell signal” to broadcast who they are and mark their territory.

The reasons for anal gland problems may be poor diet, inflammation of anal canal (making it more difficult for all of the fluid to be removed), obesity (small anal gland ducts means they may block more easily), skin disorders, tumours and infections.

When the gland is not emptied and the leftover fluid becomes thickened, blocking the duct through which the fluid travels out.

Blocked or impacted anal gland may lead to infection resulting in the doggy ‘scoot’ along the ground or engage in other activities that seems to center around its butt.

When To Seek Veterinary Help For Anal Gland Problems in Dogs?

Due to long-term issues to empty the anal sacs during normal defecation, the anal glands become infected (abscessed) or impacted.

When you see your dog’s anal area becomes inflamed, have open sore or you see pus around its anus, you should contact the vet.

Although it's less common, a tumor (can be benign or malignant tumors) or low thyroid function and obesity could be also a contributing factor.

Food Suggestions For Anal Gland Problems In Dogs

  • Avoid dry food and go for fresh diet
  • Fresh, home cooked, balanced or raw food diet
  • Raw meat and Bone
  • Underground vegetables
  • Pureed pumpkin
  • Add fiber to your pup’s diet.
  • Increase water intake or install a pet water fountain.
  • Supplement prebiotics and probiotics formulated for pets.
  • Add your dog's diet with fish oil, checking with your vet
  • Commercial foods should have high-quality, natural ingredients, with no artificial additives.


The exact purpose of dog's anal glands is unknown; but similar to skunks, dogs use them for protection and territory marking. When these scent-producing anal glands impacted, swollen or distended, you have to act fast to avoid serious consequences.

So, when your dog has not exhibited symptoms of impacted glands and if it feels good,

Consider yourself lucky!

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