What are Anal Glands?

Anal glands are two small glands located just inside your pet’s rectum. These glands produce a liquid material that is usually dark in colour and is often a thick, sticky liquid or paste-like material. This substance often has a strong odour. In wild animals these glands are used to distinguish territory or in some cases (i.e. skunks) to deter predators. Most domesticated animals no longer have the ability to empty their anal glands intentionally but in most circumstances they are able to empty them during routine bowel moments. For many animals this is sufficient but for some pet’s this is not effective. In those cases the glands can become sore, and swollen and they may need assistance from a trained professional.

This discomfort is often revealed by scooting, when an animal drags their behind on the carpet or floor, or by excessive licking. If you notice scooting or licking, the glands should be checked and emptied if necessary. For some pet’s glands may need to be emptied no more than once, and for others they may need to be emptied very few weeks on a long term basis. For other animals this may never need to be done.

If the anal glands do not express naturally they may become impacted or develop into an abscess. The abscess can rupture through the pet’s skin.  This is a very painful condition and it will likely need medical treatment.

There is no rule as to how often anal glands should be emptied, some pets may never need assistance while other’s may require regular intervention. In some cases dietary changes may be helpful, and in more rare cases they may need to be removed altogether in a procedure called an Anal Succulectomy.

Bentley visits us at the Victoria Vet Clinic every 6 months to have his anal glands expressed. This may not be his favorite thing to do but he does feel better afterwards.

Anal glands-Bently

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