What to know about your pet's anal glands.

There are so many incredible aspects of pet ownership. As our best friends and constant companions, they bring so much joy and tenderness to our day-to-day existence. Playing with them, exercising together, and getting a good daily snuggle all lend themselves to an ever-deepening attachment. In return, they depend on us to help them out in many different ways, including providing excellent nutrition, maintaining preventive care practices, and sometimes, tending to their anal glands.

I’m Sorry…What?

Your pet’s anal glands may never cause problems. In fact, you might be able to forget you know anything about them. That being said, however, this area of their body requires immediate attention if the anal glands become impacted or infected. 

Both female and male cats and dogs have two fluid-filled sacs located on the right and left sides within the wall of the anus. Anal glands produce a brownish, fish-smelling liquid that empties into the anus through a small duct. When they defecate, the fluid leaks out and helps to mark their territory. Sometimes, the liquid will be released when an animal is stressed

Scootin’ the Boot

If you’ve ever seen a cat or dog drag their bottom on the carpet or upholstery, you know it’s a rather unpleasant sight. They’re doing this to loosen up the swollen, distended anal glands that need to be released. You might also see them excessively lick or chew on the area to gain relief. 

Why It Happens

Anal glands get emptied out with a full, solid bowel movement. If a pet experiences diarrhea for any period of time, their anal glands don’t get the pressure required to release the liquid. 

Additionally, the anatomy of some animals is such that the duct leading from the gland to the anus is too small for effective release. In these cases, the glands become impacted. 

Other potential causes for problems can be related to a pet’s weight and even allergies

Bad Bacteria

Anal glands can become infected. Abscesses are not uncommon in pets with impacted anal glands. This is a very painful situation and requires quick action to empty and flush out the glands. Antibiotics and pain relief medications are important treatments. 

Preventing Problems

You can handle issues related to runny bowel movements by bulking up the diet with extra fiber. Unsweetened, canned, pureed pumpkin can help reduce runny stools, adding to firm pressure on the glands during defecation.

If we suspect allergies, we may try to re-balance their diet to reduce symptoms. 

Regular expression of your pet’s anal glands can help prevent impaction and infection. We can help you with this at your pet’s routine wellness exam, or you can ask your pet’s groomer to add it to their scope. 

The Health of Anal Glands

If you have additional questions or concerns about your pet’s anal glands, feel free to call us at (404) 633‑6163. Our veterinarians and staff members are always here for you at Clairmont Animal Hospital.