Digestive health – Anal gland impaction and infection in dogs

April 13, 2012

Dogs have survived in the wild for millions of years. Dogs have an uncanny ability to correct what is wrong with their body. Instinctively, these animals would know what leaves; plants or herbs must be eaten to ensure the optimum functioning of their systems. The instinct to resolve health concerns may have remained but modern day dogs, unlike their counterparts that survived in the wilderness have no access to the all natural remedies found in the wild. As such, a lot of modern day dogs are afflicted with a variety of health concerns. Due to the dog’s voracious eating habits and to some extent to the commercial food provided by the pet owners, these animals would have digestive health concern every now and then. One of these digestive health conditions is anal gland impaction.

Anal glands or anal sacs are two oval shaped glands that are not readily visible but found on either sides of the anus taking the 4 o’clock and the 8 o’clock positions. These glands are embedded between the skin and the anal sphincter muscle. Each of these glands hold a fluid whose pungent smell is distinct to every dog thus it is used by canines as a one of a kind identification card. The butt-sniffing habit of dogs is done to identify each other by smelling the noxious secretion. Notice how a dog would raise its tail in the presence of another dog. The action puts a little pressure on the anal glands so that the dog’s personal essence is released. The anal gland fluid is also released when the dog defecates or urinates. The stool produces a little amount of pressure so that the pungent yellow, brown or gray secretion will be released. This secretion is used by the dog to mark the territory.

A disorder will occur when the dog cannot express the anal gland normally. For some reasons, the anal gland secretion becomes too thick to pass through the pores. The firm compact stool that puts pressure on the glands is expected to help in the secretion. However, dogs that are provided with low quality commercial food that are mostly cereal fillers tend to produce soft stools. The continued production of the fluid will cause the anal gland to enlarge resulting to inflammation, irritation and infection. There will always be an opportunity for infection to set in once the anal glands are not sufficiently expressed. Numerous problems will crop up because of the bacteria build up. An infected anal gland will produce significant amount of pus. The accumulation of pus will worsen the condition as the infection will progress to an abscess that will eventually enlarge and rupture to allow the pus to drain.

Anal gland impaction will cause the dog immense discomfort. In an effort to express the glands, the dog will scoot or drag the rear end on the floor. The dog will constantly lick and chew the rectum. Dogs scoot and dogs chew… a lot. However, dog owners have to be aware that these behaviors can mean that everything is not OK with the dog. Scooting and chewing is a dog’s cry for help. The pungent smell coming from the dog’s rear end is one good sign that the anal gland is impacted. The anal glands have to be expressed. This would be a messy and smelly chore and dog owners would take the dog to the vet. Some owners would express the anal glands themselves. This can be done by raising the tail and feeling the anal gland on both sides of the rectum. With a washcloth, apply firm but gentle pressure on the sacs until the fluid oozes through the rectal opening.

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