There are glands on either side of your dog’s rectum that produce a very pungent fluid. They seem to serve no purpose to the health of a dog other than marking and identification. They tag his body and his feces as belonging to him. Because of their location so close to the anus, the glands can become impacted and/or infected. As a dog owner, you should be aware of the signs of the “fire down below”.
Your dog will alert you of an issue with the anal glands with the following signs:
Dogs drag their rears along the ground because of itching or pain around the anal area. This behavior can sometimes be a normal method of removing debris or a passing itch, but any dog that scoots more than occasionally may have a problem.
Some dogs routinely lick their private areas and you will know if your dog normally does this. Licking from anal gland issues will be frequent and intense, since it is driven by discomfort and it will often be difficult to distract your dog from it. If you are able to distract, you will notice that he is right back licking again very soon.
Owners report a preoccupation with that area in affected dogs. Sometimes they will jump up suddenly and look around at the rectal area as if startled. It seems to be related to pain and we know that there are many nerves in this area, so looking around in surprise might be your hint of trouble.
The anal glands normally release a very pungent discharge that is even stronger than the smell of feces. Normal release occurs at the time of defecation, so it is away from you and your dog with the waste. If you notice a foul, sometimes fishy odor on your dog or anywhere she lies, it could be a sign that the glands are abnormal. Leaking foul odor at odd times it can be a warning to get help.
If the glands become infected, they can produce an abscess (pocket of pus) that will rupture out onto the skin near the rectum. Once this happens, your dog will most certainly be showing you the signs listed here as well as a draining open wound. Any open wound needs veterinary attention as soon as possible.
Anal sac disease is a very important issue because of pain and infection. It needs to be looked into by a veterinarian. Do not be tempted to try and express the infected glands yourself. Once the infection is present, your handling is likely to drive infected matter deeper into the tissues and will certainly be uncomfortable for your dog. Keep your bond healthy and let the veterinary professionals handle this painful and common issue. There is help for anal gland disease, so neither you or dog has to suffer in silence.
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