Ever watched your dog scoot his hind end along the floor? It isn’t a pleasant sight, and the reason he’s doing it likely isn’t so pleasant, either. While multiple issues could lead to scooting, including gastrointestinal parasites and food allergies, the most common reason dogs scoot is because of problems with their anal glands.
What are anal glands?
Anal glands aren’t technically glands. Instead, they are small, paired sacs located on each side of the anus that are lined with glandular cells. These cells produce a yellow or brownish oily fluid that has a pungent odor.
No one knows for sure why some animals have anal glands, but it is commonly believed that they are meant to lubricate hard stool and serve as a way for animals to mark their territory. Some also believe anal glands help to communicate the overall health and well-being of an animal to other animals.
When a dog with healthy anal sacs defecates, the fluid held inside the sacs is pushed out through narrow ducts and expelled along with the dog’s poop.
How can anal glands cause scooting?
Some dogs don’t expel the anal sac fluid on a regular basis. When this happens, the fluid can become thicker and more difficult to pass, leading to pain and inflammation, a potential blockage, an infection, and even an abscess and rupture of the anal sac.
Some signs that your dog is experiencing problems with his anal glands include:
- Licking or biting the area excessively
- An unpleasant odor
- Yellow or bloody pus oozing from the sacs
- Signs of pain, including acting fearfully or aggressively
Overweight, small-breed dogs are more likely to suffer from anal gland issues than their larger-breed counterparts.
Preventing anal gland problems
You can lower your dog’s risk of developing anal sac disease in the first place by keeping him at an ideal weight. Be sure he’s eating a healthy diet and getting plenty of exercise. There are foods and supplements high in fiber, which will help to keep your dog’s stool large and firm, putting more pressure on the anal sacs and helping to expel the anal sac fluid more regularly.
Treating anal gland problems
Despite taking preventive measures, some pets will still suffer from anal sac disease and might benefit from having their anal sacs manually expressed on a regular basis. Some dog owners prefer that we handle this for them, others would rather us teach them how to do it effectively themselves at home.
If your dog’s anal sacs become impacted and are not treated, a painful infection will occur, which will require us to wash out the anal sacs and treat the infection with antibiotics. If the infection is not treated, an abscess (a swollen and painful area where pus has accumulated) can develop, which could rupture. To treat an abscess, we might drain the area and prescribe antibiotics, anti-inflammatory medications, and possibly pain medications.
For dogs with persistent, extreme trouble with their anal glands, surgery to remove the sacs might be considered. The surgery, however, is not common because of the risk of potential unpleasant complications, including fecal incontinence (leaky stool).
Think your dog might be suffering from anal gland problems? Call us at 318-797-5522.