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Anal Gland Impaction


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Dogs have two glands, or sacs, beneath the skin near the anus, one on each side. They are similar to a skunk's scent glands, and they give each pet's anal region and feces a distinctive odor. The glands secrete a liquid that's usually pressed out during each bowel movement. When the feces are too soft and don't exert enough pressure to empty the glands as they pass, or if the glands produce too much, the liquid can thicken and clog up the glands.

Pets with anal gland problems tend to lick themselves a lot, or they may scoot or drag their bottoms against the floor in an effort to open up the impaction. A clogged anal glad is tender and swollen. It can eventually abscess and rupture, with lots of bloody or puss drainage. This requires a visit to the vet right away. You'll know that your dogs glands have become infected if they are red, discolored and very painful. Other signs include fever, loss of appetite and lethargy.

If you can actually see a blister (swollen area filled with fluid) on the dogs anus, do not attempt to empty the glands yourself. Draining the glands yourself is a very messy procedure, and I do not recommend it for those who don't truly know what they are doing. But if there is a blister on the anus, the dog needs medical attention as soon as possible. This is extremely painful to the dog, and your vet will most likely lance the blister (open it) so that it will drain. Your dog will also need to be on antibiotics as well. While at the vet, they'll also clean out the anal glands.

Some dogs may actually have to have injections of antibiotics directly into the anal sacs. This is not very pleasant for the dog, but it does help. If the dog continues to have problems with his anal glands, the vet may suggest removing the sacs to prevent future problems.

Some dogs go through stages where they have a lot of problems, and then suddenly have none at all. One of my dogs was in the vets office at least twice a month for about 3 month due to this, and now hasn't had a problem in over a year.

To empty the glands yourself:

Usually you'll need another person to help you restrain the dog while you do this. They'll need to hold the dog firmly because treating sore anal glands can be very painful and he'll struggle and try to get away.

If the fur beneath the tail is long, clipper it off- this will help you see what's going on and also make the area easier to treat and keep clean. If an anal gland is abscessed or has ruptured, the weeping sore tends to deposit matter in the fur, and your dog can leave stains wherever he sits.

You'll want to wear disposable medical gloves and an old shirt for this because the contents of the sacs have a very strong nasty odor that you don't want squirted on good clothes.

First lift the tail up and gently pull it over the dog's back. This will expose the rectal area and pull the skin taught over the sacs. The anal sacs are located at the 5 and 7 o'clock positions on the anus, and you should be able to feel them if they are full- they'll feel a bit like peas or marbles under the skin. The ducts that empty them to the outside are higher, at 4 and 8 o'clock. using your thumb and forefinger, squeeze in a C shaped sweeping arc to literally milk the substance out. Start below the 5 and 7 o'clock positions and milk upward. The material will be dark brown to clear. If it's yellow or blood streaked, your dog may have an infection and will need antibiotics from a veterinarian.

For mild irritations that are red and itchy but not infected, use hemorrhoid cream (like Preparation H) to help your dog feel better. You can apply the cream up to four times a day.