Dogs sniff each other to learn about the identity of other canines they encounter, and that is all possible due to the special glands they have in that area. As a pet owner, you might have already heard about health issues associated with these glands, so learning about them can help you understand how to care for your dog’s wellbeing better. Here are some facts you should know.
Where are the anal glands located?
There are two anal glands, each of them located on either side of the anus. They are about the size of a grape, and they can hold the equivalent of a teaspoon of liquid. The liquid contained in these glands is eliminated each time your dog defecates. It serves multiple purposes, and, in this case, it helps the dog mark his or her territory. It is also a message sent to other canines.
Even if they are domesticated, dogs are still creatures from the wild. That is why they use their anal glands in such a manner. For them, the liquid secreted by these glands is an essential way of communicating with other members of their species.
Each dog’s scent is different
While we, humans, may feel tempted to say that the odor secreted by the liquid contained in a dog’s glands is not different from the one coming from another dog, and just consider that it all smells equally bad, the truth is that each dog uses this scent to communicate, and that is why it contains a specific signature.
For a dog sniffing another dog, a plethora of information is learned just by smelling the other’s scent signature. Your dog can learn about other dogs’ essential information, such as the sex of the other dog, his or her health status, and age. That is why dogs are so interested in sniffing each other the moment they meet.
What is the liquid from anal glands made of?
Although, as shown earlier, the liquid the anal glands of each dog eliminate is slightly different, the primary composition is the same. This liquid is made from aliphatic acid, ethanol, acetic acid, and trimethylamine, and it smells pretty much like rancid fish, which is why we cannot stand it.
Dogs may use the release of liquid as a defense mechanism
While we learned that the primary use of the liquid secreted by the anal glands is for each dog to sign his or her personal card, there are other uses for it. For instance, some dogs, when in danger, eliminate a high quantity of liquid, so that their attacker gets distracted for enough time for them to run away.
Excessive scooting happens when the sacs are too full
Dogs need to have their anal glands emptied on a regular basis, but that doesn’t always happen. In case you notice your pet scooting a lot, that can be a sign that the sacs containing the liquid are full and they cause some discomfort.
To get rid of this problem, you can take your pet to the vet to have the anal glands expressed. That can be quite a smelly process, which is why most pet owners prefer to have a vet or a pet groomer do it.
Can diet promote anal sac relief?
Yes, that is one of the first things you can do to help your pet relieve the content of the anal sacs on a regular basis. Dogs usually release the liquid inside the glands with each stool they eliminate. However, if the dog experiences bowel movement problems, it is easy to see why the anal sac content cannot be eliminated healthily.
Ask your vet to offer you some options for high-fiber dog food for anal gland problems, as that can help you tremendously. Your dog will experience fewer bowel movement problems, and you will notice that the usual problems with the anal glands will occur less often.
There can be serious issues that cannot be solved by diet
You should bear in mind, nonetheless, that sometimes, the problems your dog experiences with his or her anal glands, are not that easy to solve. In such cases, your vet might even recommend surgery, or regular relief of the anal glands, under professional supervision.