All dogs have anal glands. Wild dogs use them to mark their territory. Anal glands can sometimes cause problems if they become infected. Here is what you need to know about anal gland infections:
Anal gland infections are a common medical problem in dogs of any shape or size.
Symptoms include lethargy, discomfort and unusual behaviour.
Anal gland infections will require veterinary treatment to resolve.
How do anal gland infections occur?
If the anal glands are not emptying naturally, they can fill up with secretion which over time often becomes thick and pasty. This provides an ideal environment for bacteria to start multiplying within the gland(s).
What happens next?
The infected anal gland will start to fill with pus as the body tries to fight the bacterial infection. The gland will enlarge and swell as an abscess forms. Eventually the abscess may burst through the skin near the backside.
What signs should I look out for?
Your dog may be licking or paying a lot of attention to the back end. They may “scoot” along the floor or keep sitting down suddenly. They may be quieter than normal or not their normal self. Before the abscess bursts, you may notice a reddened painful swelling to one side of their rectum. If the abscess has burst you may notice a smell, a small oozing red hole that leaks pus and/or blood.
What should I do?
If the abscess has burst, you can gently clean the area with warm salty water and cotton wool pads. Try to dab rather than rub. Anal gland infections do require veterinary attention so contact your local vet to make an appointment.
How are anal gland infections treated?
Anal gland infections usually require a treatment course of antibiotics and anti-inflammatories.
What if the infection is not responding to treatment?
If the infection is not clearing up, then your vet may recommend taking a swab from the affected gland to try and identify the bacterial species causing the infection and to check which antibiotics will be most effective.
Some dogs can suffer from re-occurring anal gland infections. In these cases your vet may suggest surgical removal of the anal glands to prevent further problems.