Dog Anal Glands

Ever had to deal with impacted dog anal glands and that awful smell? Did you know expressing them may create dependence? Here's what you should know.

First, let me do a quick description to be sure we're on the same page.

Canine anal glands are small sac-like glands on either side of the anus which secretes their particular scent.

These glands are probably what dogs are smelling when they sniff each others behinds.

They are used along with urine to mark territory and are designed to empty naturally during defecation.

Anal Gland Problems in Dogs

When they don't empty naturally, it can hurt.

Often owners suspect worms because of the butt scooting across the floor when what the dog is actually doing is trying to express the glands himself.

Another sign of impacted anal glands is sitting gingerly off to the side to avoid pressure once the area is inflamed.

The poor diet of dogs who eat commercial pet food has much to do with the impaction and infection of these tiny glands. Lacking nutrients and the right kind of fiber contribute to the problem while expressing manually may contribute as well.

Expressing Dog Anal Glands

The vet will empty these glands completely to make the dog more comfortable, but emptying them completely creates a problem.


Nature did not mean for them to be empty. By forcing a complete evacuation of the glands, it signals the body to fill them again!

You are now in a vicious cycle.

Your dog stinks. You give him a bath and he still smells. Ah, you realize it's time to take him to the vet for another squeeze. In some cases the vet may suggest surgery to remove the glands.

Please don't!

Anal Gland Surgery

If you are considering surgery, here's what you should know:

  • Anal gland removal is done under general anesthesia which has risks.
  • There is also a risk of fecal incontinence with any surgery around the anus and the risk is higher when both anal glands are removed.
  • Tumors of the anal sacs can spread to lymph nodes in the abdomen.

What You Can Do

Before you opt for surgery, consider changing your dog's diet. There are many helpful pages here at Three Little Pitties.

How much do you really know about dog nutrition? Switching my dogs to a raw dog food diet has changed all our lives for the better and here's a few free recipes.

Advice From Dr. Marty Goldstein

In Dr. Marty's book "The Nature of Animal Healing: The Definitive Holistic Medicine Guide to Caring for Your Dog and Cat" he has a great suggestion for your vet.

If your vet has to express these glands, ask him to put a small amount of Panalog into the anal sac afterward. It's an antibiotic and cortisone ointment for the ear, but it works.

If you are one of my regular readers, you know I never encourage the use of either antibiotics or cortisone because their side effects ruin dog health. BUT, in this instance so little is absorbed into the body, it will have no side effects and keep infection at bay.

Dog Anal Glands to Common Health Problem

› Anal Gland Problems

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