Anal Gland Secretion in Dogs
What It Is and How to Deal With It
Mar 27, 2007 Jessica Springgay
Anal gland secretion is a common occurance with many dog breeds. Here are some tips on emptying the glands, and what to do if they're infected or impacted.
That smell. As soon as you’ve smelled it you know what’s happened. It’s the smell of rotting fish shoved directly up your nostrils. But not just rotting fish. Rotting fish mixed with…freshly run over skunk.
It’s anal gland secretion – a common occurrence with many breeds. Not good for your clothes. Or couches. Or pillowcases. Or blankets. Or car seats. Or nostrils.
Every dog has two anal glands or sacs (one on each side of the anus). These glands are occasionally referred to as "scent glands” because they allow dogs to mark their territory and identify each other. We’ve all witnessed dogs greeting each other by sniffing the other’s rear.
Anal glands are ususally emptied by rectal pressure during defecation. The secretion from the glands is a brownish liquid, though is can become thick, yellowish or creamy in texture if the glands are impacted or infected. The glands can also be emptied by involuntary contraction of the anal sphincter, which can be caused by the dog being upset, frightened or under stress. Dogs can also trigger the contraction to mark territory. Anal Gland Impaction
Impaction can occur when the anal glands fail to empty normally. Impaction is most common in small dog breeds, like pugs, but can occur in any breed. Anal gland impaction can be caused by: soft stools, small anal gland openings or overactive anal glands. When impaction occurs, the secretions become thick, pasty and creamy in texture. Impaction is treated by manual emptying of the glands.
Emptying the Anal Glands
To empty the glands, first prepare a warm moist wash cloth, towel, paper towel or cotton balls. Be sure that hands and skin are not in the way. Gloves are recommended. Raise the dog’s tail and locate the anal glands, which should be at approximately five o’clock and seven o’clock positions in relation to the anal circumference and feel like small, firm nodules (often pea-sized).
Place the cloth or paper towel over the area. It is easier to have one person hold the dog while another empties the glands. If only one person is available, position your thumb on one gland and index finger on the opposite gland. By pressing in and squeezing your fingers toward each other and upwards, the glands should empty. Wipe the area clean and repeat if necessary.
If the discharge contains blood or pus, there is probably an anal gland infection. below. Infected Anal Glands
Anal gland infection is identifiable by blood or pus in the anal gland secretions. The dog may also exhibit discomfort when the glands are emptying (either naturally or by a human) or do a great deal of scooting.
To trean infected anal glands, express the glands as described above. Once the glands are empty and the area is clean, fill the gland(s) with antibiotic ointment (which can be prescribed by your veterinarian) by placing the tip of the ointment tube into the anal gland duct opening and squeezing the tube to fill the gland. Repeat this process as often as necessary (usually two days, but may vary depending on veterinarian recommendations) until the secretions no longer include blood or pus. The dog should also be receiving oral antibiotics during this time (also available from your veterinarian).