Infected Anal Glands Dogs: Common Symptoms and Treatments

infected anal glands dog

Have you ever seen your dog scooting around the house?

It is something that all dog owners dread. It is a sign that your dog is experiencing pain and discomfort.

Infected anal glands dogs can lead to an anal sac abscess, and even anal gland rupture if not treated properly.

Stay with us and learn everything about anal gland problems, including symptoms, treatment, and prevention!

Key Takeaways:

  • Pet’s anal glands often fill excessively and are clogged.
  • Firm stools can help in emptying the anal gland contents, and that is why animals need a proper diet.
  • The most common symptoms of affected dog’s glands are scooting and discomfort.
  • Gently squeezing can help in extracting the anal glands and preventing anal gland infections.
  • Anti-inflammatory pain medications are needed in cases of infected anal glands.

What Are Anal Glands?

If you are a new pet parent, you must know that anal glands are. Anal glands, also known as anal sacs, can be described as two small pockets above the left and right sides of the dog’s anus.

To describe them in more detail, the anal glands are located at approximately four and eight o’clock positions.

Since the walls of the sacs have sebaceous glands, they produce a foul-smelling fluid that leads to an unpleasant odor. The fluid is released through a duct in the anus.

The released odor is also a way of communication between dogs. Both male and female dogs release the fluid and smell by muscular contractions due to bowel movements.

So, when dogs have to do “the number two,” the pressure of the stool leads to their scent signature.

Healthy anal glands release the fluid without a problem; however, some dogs cannot express their glands naturally.

When dogs struggle with their bowel movement, they cannot release the fluid. This might lead to irritation, inflammation, and even infected anal glands.

Some other factors might lead to anal gland abscesses and, as a consequence, anal gland infections, including:

  • Obesity
  • Unbalances diet
  • Allergies
  • Skin problems

What Is Anal Sac Disease?

Anal sac disease is a common condition in dogs that occurs when the dog’s anal glands become plugged due to duct inflammation.

This occurs because the fluid release reduces, and the sacs get swollen and distended. This leads to difficult defecation.

According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, anal diseases can be congenital or can occur later in life.

The released fluid is an ideal medium for bacterial growth that leads to abscess formation.

Some bacteria can travel up to the ducts and lead to serious inflammation. When bacteria enter the sacs, the fluid becomes bloody, and the sacs get filled with pus.

This is the main cause of an anal gland abscess. The anal gland abscess can become painful, red, and have hot swelling. In some cases, the abscess might burst and might release greenish-yellow or bloody pus.

All anal gland issues need an immediate veterinary attention. When left untreated, anal glands can lead to severe anus and rectum damage.

Causes for anal sac disease

Anal sac disease is mostly common for small dog breeds, but it can also affect the larger breed dogs as well.

Dogs prone to anal gland problems fill their anal sacs very fast. The dog owners of these dogs want to save themselves from unnecessary vet bills, but that might do more harm than good in some cases.

When dog owners don’t express the dog’s anal glands properly, there is a risk of an anal sac disease.

But we have some bad news! Sometimes veterinary professionals also fail when expressing the dog’s anal glands. This all might lead to an anal disease.

It is a common professional mistake that everyone can do it.

Sometimes even happens that the doctor expresses only one of the anal glands. It is mostly because one of the glands can fill up faster, and it is misleading to the veterinarians that the other one is empty.

Symptoms of Infected Anal Glands in Dogs

This is a very uncomfortable health issue that manifests with some common symptoms, including:

  • Scooting
  • Rear end discomfort
  • Hind end straining
  • Fishy foul odor
  • Anal region bleeding
  • Anal region swelling
  • Anal gland fluid leaking
  • Hind area excessive licking

Sometimes, discoloration or swelling around the anal sphincter are indications of anal gland infections.

There are some dog breeds that have a lot of problems with recurrent anal sac disease, and the main sign is a change in stool consistency. This is the case for dogs that struggle with gastrointestinal diseases like food allergies and inflammatory bowel disease.

Also, overweight dogs tend to have increased chances of getting a chronic anal gland disease.

Treatment of Infected Anal Glands in Dogs

Before the veterinarian prescribes any medication, a digital rectal exam is recommended.

The treatment process depends on the animal’s current health conditions. In the case of a ruptured anal gland, the veterinarian might prescribe anti-inflammatory pain medication and might flush the anal gland with an antiseptic rinse.

When the veterinarian fails to express the anal glands, he might use some medications to soften the anal gland material for faster treatment. If the veterinarian diagnoses a bacterial infection, oral or topical antibiotics are recommended.

Any dog is predisposed to ruptured anal glands if the anal gland infection is not managed on time and properly.

If you have a dog that is very prone to ana gland problems, clean them often or visit a veterinarian to treat the plugged dog’s anal sacs.

To avoid anal gland problems, you should be extra careful about the dog’s hygiene. According to Annette Lundberg, local treatment with flushing and infusion can help in treating anal sacculitis.

According to MacPhail C, the definitive treatment of chronic anal sacculitis is surgery. This can lead to a permanent pain relief of an anal gland infection.

However, surgeries can lead to fecal incontinence if the anal sphincter is damaged during the surgery. Consult with a board-certified veterinary surgeon before performing this surgery.

According to T.M. Charlesworth, anal sacculectomy is a relatively safe procedure with short-term and self-limiting postoperative complications. Smaller dogs are at an increased risk of postoperative complications.

Preventing Infections in Anal Glands

To express the dog’s anal glands naturally, high-fiber food can positively contribute. Fiber improves digestion and gut microbiome and can reduce inflammation in the large intestine when it is affected by bacteria.

Firm and healthy stool consistency helps in creating pressure on the glands and natural expression. Adding fiber to the dog’s diet can help in avoiding loose stool and can contribute to proper emptying.

The following foods can help express your dog’s anal glands naturally:

  • Pumpkin
  • Apple
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Lentils
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Rice bran
  • Oatmeal
  • Flaxseed
  • Beets

Improving the dog’s diet is one of the easiest ways to manage the dog’s anal gland issues. Besides that, a good diet can help keep the animal from other health problems.

Daily warm compresses are recommended for dogs that are prone to anal gland infections. This will help in relieving the dog’s pain and discomfort.

Warm compresses are recommended every 12 hours for 5-7 days.

You can also add anal gland supplements to improve the animal’s condition. Adding omegas like fish oil supplements can significantly improve the animal’s condition.

It is extremely important to mention that recurring anal gland issues should be managed in consultation with a professional. Oral antibiotics and pain relief medications are advised in these situations.


Are infected anal glands a life-threatening condition in dogs?

Usually, this health issue is not a life-threatening condition if treated on time. Untreated dogs might become aggressive and angry, which requires immediate veterinary advice.

The most difficult stage of infected anal glands in dogs is treated with a surgery.

How to detect if dogs have infected anal glands?

Most dog owners notice infected anal glands in dogs when the dog is scooting around the house. Licking or biting the rear end is also an indicator of infected anal glands.

Constipation and fishy smell are also a common sign of infected anal glands.

Can a dog’s anal glands be squeezed at home by pet owners?

You can express your dog’s anal glands if you know the exact procedure. There are high chances that you won’t be able to do this job completely. If you suspect your abilities, take your dog to the vet to extract them fully.

To Sum Up

Owning a dog is a very joyous moment for every human, but it brings many challenges. If your dog is prone to anal gland infections, you need to address this problem with proper treatment and help from a professional.

Have you ever had a problem with your dog’s anal glands? We are curious. Let us know in the comment section below!

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