A Smelly Subject: Anal Glands and Your Pet
Ew, right? The subject of anal glands is not something most people want to explore. They’re there. We know about them (or maybe you did not?) but isn’t that where the curiosity ends? Well, there is a lot to know about these scent makers and what they are all about.
The team at Rutland Veterinary Clinic and Surgical Center is here to expand upon this icky, yet important topic of anal glands and your pet’s health.
What Are Anal Glands?
Anal glands are sacs that secrete an unmistakable scent that is believed to mark territory and communicate to other animals. These glands are about the size of a pea and are positioned in the rectum, on either side. The secretions range from a thin liquid to a paste-like substance.
Each time your pet defecates or scoots their hindquarters across the ground, they are secreting this fluid. If your pet is threatened or anxious, the glands will also be expressed.
When Good Anal Glands Go Bad
The function of the anal glands are usually healthy and the secretions are expressed through defecating. But there are times when the glands can become impacted. If there are problems with the glands, some of the following symptoms appear:
- Scooting the rear (The “boot scoot”) means your pet’s anal glands are not functioning as they should
- Licking and biting at the anus
- Bloody stool, or blood on areas where your pet rests, such as their bed
- Inflammation of the anus
- Swelling around the anus
When these symptoms appear, phone your veterinarian for an examination. Impacted anal glands lead to discomfort, bleeding, and infection, if not treated.
Diagnosing Common Anal Gland Problems
Anal sac disease affects many cats and dogs. The glands can become impacted or plugged and the secretions thicken. This occurs when there is inflammation of the glands. As the secretion thickens, the sacs become inflamed and swollen. If the swelling becomes too large, it can make it hard for your pet to pass feces.
If the problem continues, bacteria will develop and can lead to infection.
It’s important to treat this condition by regularly expressing the anal glands. Most healthy pets do this naturally, but certain pets who are ill or have conditions which make it more difficult to empty these sacs, will need help. Some brave pet owners can learn how to do this at home. Your team at Rutland can help teach you this necessary procedure. If you’re not up for it, though, your professional groomer can do this each time your pet is in for a shampoo.