What is the anal gland in dogs? Can the anal gland in dogs create problems? What can you do to prevent the anal gland in dogs from causing problems? Here is the information you never wanted to know about the anal gland in dogs and how to help your dog express his anal glands himself.
There are 2 anal glands in dogs. They are found near the anus and located between the external and internal sphincter muscles. The anal gland in dogs are located at the 4:00 and 8:00 position if looking at your dog’s butt like a clock.
The anal gland in dogs produce a brown or yellow liquid, that generally is expressed when your dog defecates or in cases of extreme fear (this causes involuntary muscle contractions, forcing the anal gland in dogs to empty themselves). This liquid is a unique scent filled with vital information of your dog, it is unique to every dog, kinda like your fingerprints. This unique scent is why dogs greet each other by sniffing butts or sniffing poop on the ground.
The anal gland in dogs can become full, impacted, or abscessed. Your dog will show signs of a potential anal gland problem by scooting on your carpet or the ground, incessant licking of the butt, or biting at his butt. Scooting is your dog’s attempt to express the anal gland. You may even see a bump or blood. If your dog is showing signs that his anal glands are bothering him you should call your vet and schedule an appointment. It is possible for the gland to rupture and require medical attention.
What can you do to help your dog so that his anal gland does become a regular problem? There are a few things that you can do at home to help keep the anal gland in dogs empty.
- Diet plays an important role in managing and treating anal gland problems. Feeding a diet high in fiber or supplementing with fiber will help keep the stool firm and will help to express the anal glands naturally.
- Overweight and less active dogs have more problems with the anal glands. Keep your dog fit and active to help keep anal gland problems at bay. Exercise helps to promote good gut motility and get things moving inside.
- There is some evidence that supplementing with a probiotic helps to keep anal glands problem free.
- Put a warm compress on your dog’s butt. Some people use a variety of herbs or make teas, but for me plain warm water helps my boy who has constant anal gland problems.
- PetAlive has a herbal formula called AnalGlandz that is supposed to help with emptying the anal glands and to maintain anal gland health. I have no personal experience with this product but AnalGlandz does have many positive reviews.
- Don’t routinely have your dog’s anal glands emptied at the groomer, unless your dog is experiencing symptoms of full anal glands. Routine anal gland emptying by groomers create anal gland problems in dogs because the dogs will lose their natural ability to empty to glands themselves.
Here are some ways to add fiber to your dog’s diet to help keep stool firm, which will aid in emptying the anal gland
- A great way to add fiber is to feed canned pumpkin, not pumpkin pie mix but 100% pumpkin. Most dogs love the taste of pumpkin. You can add the pumpkin directly to the food or feed it to your dog straight from the can. Depending on the size of your dog, feed 1 teaspoon to 1/2 cup of pumpkin per day.
- Add fresh vegetables. Many dogs love chewing on carrots, green beans, peas, cabbage, etc.
- Add fresh or dried fruits. Prunes and dried apricots are great sources of fiber.
- Holistic vets recommend adding finely minced wheat grass, raw flax seeds or other green herbs to the diet. You can add 1 teaspoon per 10 pounds or 1 tablespoon per 30 pounds.
- Add a fiber supplement like Metamucil or Benefiber. You can add 1 – 5 teaspoons to food per day. Some vets recommend that if you will be adding a fiber supplements you should soak the supplement in water before feeding it to your dog. Doing this allows the fiber to soak up water and potentially prevent intestinal blockage.
- Keep in mind when adding fiber to your dog’s diet to start with a smaller dose or just one prune or something, you want your dog to gradually get used to the additional fiber in his diet.
Here’s a good video if you are brave enough to want to express the anal gland in dogs yourself.
Despite your best attempt there are some dogs that will always have anal gland problems and will need to have the glands expressed regularly.