Domesticated dogs don't really need them, but they have anal glands, or anal sacs, located between the internal and external sphincter muscles. The anal glands secrete oily fluid onto the feces when they pass a bowel movement, a function of predatory animal communication. Some dogs are prone to oily, thick fluid with a distinct unpleasant odor. Anal gland problems occur in male and female dogs of any age; they can affect any breed, but small dogs and certain breeds have a higher occurrence.
Anal gland problems seldom occur in large-breed dogs. Dr. T.J. Dunn Jr. writes on PetMD that infections and impactions are more common in smaller breeds, such as basset hounds, beagles, cocker spaniels, Chihuahuas, miniature poodles and toy poodles, and Lhasa apsos. While the condition is common in these smaller and medium-size pooches, don't rule it out as a cause for discomfort in a dog of any size or breed.
Signs your dog may have anal gland problems include scooting his butt on the floor and excessive licking of the anal area. In cases of infection of abscess, swelling or a fever may occur. If you believe your dog has anal gland problems, consult your veterinarian. Treatment includes manual expression of the anal glands. Many groomers routinely express the anal glands during routine grooming.
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