Anal gland problems are very common for many dogs and cats.  This website offers information on causes, treatment, and prevention of anal gland disease in pets.

Anal Glands in Dogs & Cats

Anal Glands in Dogs & Cats

What Are Some Complications of Anal Gland Disease?

If the anal glands are not treated then overtime the symptoms can worsen and can lead to infection of the anal glands, or even worse, an abscess.  If an infection or abscess develops your pet may be reluctant to sit, seem uncomfortable or painful in the rear end, or may have a bloody discharge from beneath the tail.  If this occurs you will need to have your pet treated by a veterinarian as soon as possible.

What Can Be Done to Prevent Anal Gland Disease?

If your dog or cat is visibly displaying any of the symptoms above then the glands will need to be manually expressed.  This is usually done by a trained professional such as a veterinarian or sometimes by a groomer.  Some people attempt to learn how to express their pet's anal glands at home but it can prove to be quite challenging and messy and is usually best left to a professional.

Preventing the problem is usually aimed at improving the quality of your pet's feces.  Feeding a high quality diet that is free from excessive fillers is an important part of prevention.  A diet high in fiber is also beneficial as fiber helps to add bulk to the feces while maintaining a healthy digestive tract.  Many vets recommend using a supplement specifically designed to help with anal gland problems in dogs and cats such as Glandex for Dog Anal Glands. Maintaining your pet's ideal weight can help as obese and overweight pets may have more difficulty naturally emptying the anal glands.  Keeping your pet active can help to tone the muscles in the area of the anal glands which can also aid in naturally emptying the anal glands. As a last resort, surgery can be an option to permanently remove the glands, but due to the costs and risks involved with surgery this is not usually the best option.

The information here is not intended to diagnose, cure, or treat disease and is for informational purposes only.  Please seek veterinary advice prior to making any diet changes or if your pet requires medical care.

What Do Anal Glands Do?

Anal glands are two small glands that are located just within the anal opening in all dogs and cats.  The glands are not visible to the naked eye and are completely internal. These glands contain an oily and very foul smelling liquid which is used for scent marking purposes.  Every time your dog or cat defecates, a small amount of this liquid is released from the glands for scent marking purposes, and this is how dogs and cats can identify each another.
What Causes Anal Gland Disease?

Anal gland problems develop whenever the glands fill-up excessively or become blocked.  This can happen for a variety of reasons.  As your pet normally defecates, the feces pass over the glands and creates pressure which causes the glands to empty.  If your pet has soft stool or diarrhea then not enough pressure is created to empty the glands.  Also, if your pet's glands are located in an abnormal anatomical position it may be difficult for your pet's feces to produce enough pressure to properly empty the glands. Another problem can stem from inflammation of the anal glands either due to allergies or from infection. Inflammation of the anal glands can cause the tiny little ducts where the liquid escapes to become obstructed causing the liquid secretion to become trapped. If the liquid from the glands cannot be released normally, then it can build-up leading to an infection or an abscess. 

What Are Symptoms of Anal Gland Disease?

If the liquid cannot be released from the anal glands then the pressure will build-up over time causing discomfort for your pet.  Commonly observed symptoms of anal gland problems in dogs and cats are:

Dogs - Scooting of the rear end on the ground; excessive licking, chewing, or biting underneath the tail; straining to defecate, a sudden foul odor from your dog, and frequently turning to look at the rear end

Cats - Defecating outside the litter box, straining to defecate, a sudden foul odor from your cat, and excessive grooming underneath the tail