Owning a dog is full of lots of beautiful and tender experiences, and a few pretty yucky ones for good measure. The clogging of canine anal glands is definitely one for the latter category. Although the concept of impacted anal glands might sound a little scary to you, the situation is pretty common amongst canines.
The anal glands -- or anal sacs -- flank the canine anal region, although they are placed just a tad lower than the anus. These inconspicuous sacs give off a brown, dense, greasy and extremely icky smelling oil that's supposed to come out whenever dogs have bowel movements. When this emptying doesn't take place, it leads to the glands clogging up -- and a whole lot of suffering for your poor pooch.
Although it might be difficult to imagine the goal of the yucky stuff that clogs up the anal glands, it does indeed exist for a reason. The substance is packed with information that is specific to individual dogs, from physical condition to sex to what your dog ate. Dogs learn about each other through analyzing this smelly stuff -- a useful tool for labeling personal turf. If you ever wondered why dogs seem so fond of placing their noses near fellow canines' backsides, you now have your answer.
If your cutie is dealing with the unpleasant feelings of impacted anal sacs, then you'll probably notice it quickly -- and how. If his bottom is giving off an intensely unpleasant, hard-to-miss stench that's somewhat reminiscent of rotten fish, then anal sacs are the likely culprit. The accumulating pressure of the clogging might even cause him to drag his derriere around over the ground. He might even begin chewing and licking his behind a lot -- all in desperate attempts to ease the uncomfortable feelings.
Prompt emptying of clogged anal glands in dogs is a must. Set up an appointment with the veterinarian, who can show you, step-by-step, how exactly to empty these full glands manually. Never ignore signs that your pet's anal glands are full. Not only does the clogging hurt dogs, it also trigger even bigger issues, specifically inflammation, infections and bursting abscesses. Extreme cases sometimes call for surgical anal gland extraction -- think dogs who frequently deal with the woes of abscesses.
Anal gland issues are particularly common in overweight pooches. This could be because their excess weight stops them from stimulating normal emptying through grooming. Especially tiny pooches, such as Chihuahuas and miniature poodles, also are prone to clogged anal sacs, as their glands' ducts frequently just aren't big enough. Dogs of both genders and all ages seem equally affected by anal gland issues.
- DogChannel.com: My Dog Smells
- PetMD: Anal Sacs Problems in Dogs (and Cats)
- Mar Vista Animal Medical Center: Anal Sacs
- Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine: Anal Sac Disease
- DogChannel.com: Anal Sac Impaction
- All Pets Veterinary Clinic: Anal Glands
- Putnam North Animal Hospital: Anal Gland Disease
- Duncan Smith/Photodisc/Getty Images