Dog Anal Glands: Provide The Right Care

Written by: Bojana Radulovic
Anal glands in dogs are located on either side of the anus and contain a strong-smelling liquid that they use for marking territory. Keep on reading to learn how these small parts can create big problems, and how to keep them clean.

Dogs need help with many things.

Not only that they need the best nutrition possible, and the best grooming practice to keep them clean and shiny, but they also need a hand with common health issues.

Did you know that millions of dogs have some sort of anal gland problems?

At that scale, anal gland problems are very common and often a very frustrating problem that can put a lot of stress and pain on your dog.

Anal gland issues can happen in all pets, not only dogs. In fact, anal gland issues if very often seen in cats as well, so if you are a feline owner as well, this is something to bear in mind.

Both cats and dogs have two small glands, also known as anal sacs, that are located near the anal opening.

These openings are small in size, commonly the size of a small grape.

They work by releasing a few drops of scent marking fluid whenever your pet defecates.

They may be small, but they tend to be a big problem if they become inflamed or stuck for whatever the reason might be.

What Are Anal Glands?

Anal glands or anal sacs are small openings located between the internal and external anal sphincter muscles, one on each side of the anus.

They are a mandatory part of every organism, but did you know that these may serve as a tool for animals to mark their territory?

In the wild, wild animals will commonly empty their anal glands to scent mark territory, or a way fo defense mechanism, that can best be described as something similar to a skunk.

This substance is commonly brownish in color, oily in structure, and often packed with a strong odor.

Liquid held that is packed inside the sac is commonly expelled when a dog defecated.

If a dog doesn’t defect daily, the material inside will thicken, which will result in hard passing through the body. This is why your dog may scoot his bum on the ground or lick intensively around the area.

If the anal glands are not emptied regularly, they can become impacted.

If this occurs, an abscess can form, which then bursts through the skin leaving a smell that may be described as smelly.

Not only that the odor may be heavy, but it may lead to a bloody and painful mess.

In most cases, this will be a temporary thing and may manifest through an episode of diarrhea.

In some cases, it may be an outgoing issue that if left untreated may lead to many health issues later on.

What Does A Blocked Anal Gland Looks Like?

When it comes to grooming, you should spare a sec to check your dog’s anal glands.

Even if you’re taking your Fido to a professional dog groomer, make sure that you communicate that you want your dog’s glands checked.

Not only the groomer will check them, but in most cases, they should clean the area around them.

To avoid extra dirt around this area, groomers will cut the hair and make sure that hair is shorter than the rest of the body hair.

This is extra helpful if you have a breed with curly hair that easily gets matter like Portuguese Water Dog or Pumi.

For extra clean anal glands at home, you can use tissues that are specially designed for dogs to clean that area.

If you notice that your dog licks this area heavily, make sure that you advise your veterinarian on what to do.

A blocked anal gland is easy to spot. Dogs are masters of body language and if you monitor them extra carefully you will easily notice any change in their behavior and their health.

Here is how to recognize a blocked anal gland in a short period:

  • A fishy smell coming from your dog’s behind
  • Frequent scooting
  • Frequent and intense bottom cleaning

Causes of Anal Gland Problems

Just like animals in the wild, dogs will also use anal glands to mark their feces.

Anal glands may become blocked due to various reasons, no matter how great body care you might perform.

Just grooming regularly your dog isn’t a guarantee that the dog’s anal glands won’t get blocked.

When it comes to keeping clean, healthy, and unblocked anal glands, you need to focus on both internal and external factors.

Did you know that anal glands in dogs may become blocked when there aren’t enough fibers in dogs’ food?

Fibers are crucial when it comes to a dog’s digestive health and healthy stool. That being said, below you will find the most common causes of blocked dog anal glands.


Obesity in dogs is on the rise across the States, and you don’t want your dog to be part of this negative tendency.

No matter how much exercise your Fido may get every day if you don’t mind his nutrition weight gain will still happen.

Just like in humans, obesity in dogs leads to countless health issues that may cause many problems along the way.

Weight loss in dogs is possible, but it requires a lot of work, amazing food-related planning, and overall full-time care and monitoring. Plus, extra pounds and high-fat food can block your dog’s anal glands.

Age/Breed Factors

This is yet to be fully confirmed, but the practice has shown that small size dog breeds such as Chihuahuas are more prone to anal glands issues.

These issues are often seen in breeds of any age and sex.

Some of the other breeds that are commonly affected by anal glands issues include Basset Hounds and Beagles.


Have you ever heard of that saying ‘You are what you eat?’ A similar approach applies to dogs as well.

If you feed your dog with high-quality food that is packed with proteins and specially designed for the dog’s age and activity levels, your dog shouldn’t have any health issues.

On the other hand, if you serve your dog a large amount of dry food every day, with no vegetables or fruit, you can expect to see some stomach-related disturbances.

This is especially valid if your dog isn’t on a rich diet that is rich in fiber.

If you choose to feed your dog food that is rich in fiber you can actually prevent any anal gland issues.

The pressure of the firm and bulky stool can put a lot of pressure and pain on your dog.


As mentioned above, many groomers check a dog’s anal glands, as a part of the grooming routine.

Although this is a common practice, many veterinarians will advise you not to check a dog’s anal glands if there is no history of problems.

If you don’t want the groomer to check your dog’s glands for whatever the reason may be, you can communicate it.

Just express that there is no need for this step and leave it to your vet’s regular examination.

It’s important to note that some dogs are born with narrow ducts, which naturally obstruct the material from getting out pain-free.

Some of the other potential causes include:

  • Anal sphincter muscle dysfunction
  • Distended anal glands
  • Overproduction of anal gland material

What You Can Do To Prevent Anal Gland Issues?

The best thing that you can do to prevent these issues in your dog is to focus on food and exercise.

In practice, this means that you should choose to serve your dog high-quality that is rich in fiber.

To get the most from available dog food brands on the market, make sure that you know how to read dog food labels, and how to mix dry and wet dog food to keep the flavor interesting.

Of course, do not forget about the fiber – it will keep your dog’s anal glands pain and blockage free.

In short, do the following to keep the dog’s anal glands free:

  • Increase food that is rich in fiber
  • Add raw carrot to a meal from time to time
  • Ocasioanally add a tablespoon of olive oil to a meal
  • Provide enough exercise
  • Provide a minimum of daily walk between 15 to 30 minutes per walk

To avoid any anal glands-related issues talk with your veterinarian about the best care possible.

You can also ask about the right supplements to serve your Fido to make him stronger.

Treatment Of Anal Glands Disease

If you have noticed any change in your dog’s behavior or excessive licking of the anal glands, make sure that you seek advice from your veterinarian.

As long as you provide the right veterinarian care, that comes with regular check-ups you should be able to keep your dog’s anal glands’ health optimal.

In other words, if anything is wrong your veterinarian will notice it.

Also, if you notice any symptoms of an anal gland problem, make sure that you contact your veterinarian.

As the first step, veterinarians will manually express the sacs. If there is an infection, your veterinarian will most likely prescribe an antibiotic or supplement.

Additional advice on a dog’s diet may be shared and make sure that you stick to it.

You may expect to see fish oil on the list, as well as canned pure pumpkin or unsalted pumpkin seeds.

Anything pumpkin-related is commonly used to treat many blockages. It can be used to clean the human stomach as well.

When it comes to shopping for any canned product make sure that there is no Xylitol, which is deadly for dogs.

Can Anal Gland Disease Be Cured?

Some dogs may suffer from anal gland issues their entire life, while some may experience these issues once, or never.

Many factors affect a dog’s overall health and each one should be taken into consideration when it comes to keeping dog anal glands healthy, strong, and clean.

For example, overweight dogs tend to have chronic anal sac problems that continue to show until you change your dog’s diet.

It’s common for dogs with extra weight to go under the surgical removal of the sacs if the problem continues.

What is the cause of anal sec disease is it a change in stool consistency?

In that is the case, the right prevention should be conducted. This means that you should switch your dog’s diet to a higher fiber diet.

How Can You Treat Dog Anal Glands At-home

For a dog to empty normally they need a large firm stool to create a certain level of pressure during defecation.

This is why fiber food is so crucial. Add to this high-quality food and the right ingredients and nutrients and you will have a healthy stool that will easily function.

This is why many may prescribe different supplements that should enrich the dog’s nutrition and speed up the diet change.

Another factor that can easily support a dog’s bowel movement is regular exercise.

Daily motion can keep a dog’s health optimal, his joints healthy and strong, and his bowel well-balanced and properly pushed.

Since this isn’t an easy task and no change comes overnight, you should have the right support. This means that you need your veterinarian to guide you through every step and help you get your dog the right way.

Check this video to learn how a veterinarian expresses the anal glands.

The Bottom Line

Prevention is the best key when it comes to keeping your dog healthy and happy. Although many surgical moves can make your dog’s issues disappear you should give your best to prevent the certain condition.

For example, although anal glands can be surgically removed, unless your veterinarian recommends it, you shouldn’t think about it.

Surgery can damage the nerves and the anal sphincter during surgery.

In another word, what may seem like a simple procedure, may leave your dog fecally incontinent.

Plus, there is always a risk that some of the anal glans walls can get left behind. If this happens, the remaining issues may keep making fluids.

In most cases, the second surgery is usually necessary.

To prevent this, stick to high-quality food, food that is rich in fiber, and provides enough exercise, to keep your dog’s weight optimal and to support that bowel movement.