Canine anal glands serve a complex role of communication between dogs. When you see two dogs sniffing each other’s rears, that is their way of getting acquainted. However, they are not precisely smelling each other’s butts, as that is the common misconception. What they sniff is the odor secreted by their anal glands which contains some vital information, such as sex, health status, and age. If you care about your dog’s health and wellbeing, you need to know a few things about these glands and how you should care for them.
What are they?
They have the shape and size of a grape, and they are located next to the anus, at two and eight on a clock face. Their primary role is to make and store a type of liquid that serves as an identification card among canines.
As shown earlier, dogs sniff each other with the sole purpose of smelling these glands, or, better said, the liquid the glands eliminate. Although we might find the habit distasteful, the thing is that dogs, even domesticated, are still animals, and this is their natural way of communicating.
Dogs create this liquid all the time, and they eliminate it regularly, with each stool. The liquid elimination happens at the beginning and the end of the stool, and it serves as a marking of territory.
A proper diet is highly recommended
If you have ever heard someone talking about pets that experience issues with their anal glands, you might have also learned about the fact that a proper diet, rich in high-fiber dog food for anal gland problems is the most common cure and prevention method.
What happens is that dogs eliminate the liquid from their anal glands when they defecate. If they have problems with their bowel movements, that doesn’t happen, and that is when issues with these glands tend to occur.
A diet that is balanced and rich in fiber can have multiple benefits and a positive impact on your dog’s health. Obese dogs tend to develop anal sac disease more often than those that have a healthy weight, and that is why you will often see these canines at the vet, to have their anal glands expressed.
Is emptying the anal glands necessary?
The short and simple answer to this question is: yes, emptying the anal glands is paramount for your dog’s health. Typically, you should not worry about this, as dogs take care of it on their own. However, there are situations when the anal glands become impacted, and they need a bit of help from the outside.
The process of relieving the liquid from the glands is also called expressing the anal sacs, and it is usually carried on by a vet or a groomer. However, it is not something complicated, and aside from the fact that the liquid smells quite awful, you can do it at home, without professional help, once you learn how it is performed.
What happens if the glands remain impacted and full?
A poor diet combined with lack of exercise is responsible for impacted glands more often than not. If a dog has impacted glands, and no relief occurs, problems start to show up. At first, the little liquid that still gets eliminated will have an even more terrible smell. That is when you will know that something is wrong.
The impacted glands can further lead to infection and abscesses. Now it is said that they evolved into anal sac disease. Other symptoms, like blood and puss in their vicinity, also start to appear.
That is when an intervention is necessary. Take your dog to the vet and have the glands drained. Administer the treatment offered by the veterinarian and start thinking about changes in your dog’s diet.
How often should expressing the glands take place?
Some dogs need their glands expressed only once in a while. Others need it quite regularly, and it’s almost like it’s written in their DNA. You will learn, in due time, what category your dog belongs to so that you can take the necessary measures to care for his or her health.
Sometimes, anal sac disease can get so bad that surgery is the only answer. Talk to your vet about whether or not your dog needs such an intervention and be aware of the usual risks associated with surgery.