Your Pet's Dirty Little Secret

Roswell Magazine.July30

Roswell Magazine.July30

Your Pet’s Dirty Little Secret


You’ve seen it before. Your dog scooting his bottom across the ground, accompanied by excessive licking, and a foul smell. Some might mistake this behavior for a dog trying to wipe himself clean or other unmentionable stimulation, when in fact it is a telltale sign of the dreaded anal gland impaction.

Dogs and cats have two anal sacs on both sides of the anus. These sacs fill with fluid produced by the anal glands. This fluid gives them a personal scent and before domestication, was used to mark their territories every time they pooped. Today this anal “name tag” is considered vestigial, and like the human appendix, serves no real purpose.

Normally, these glands empty themselves when an animal has a well-formed bowel movement. If a dog’s anus or perineum becomes inflamed, the anal glands will not be able to secrete and the resulting back up can quickly turn into a painful infection or abscess. The causes of inflammation are unclear but animals with poor anal muscle tone, frequent bouts of diarrhea, and soft feces seem to be at risk. Smaller dog breeds and overweight cats are also more predisposed than other breeds. It is important to note that cats do not show the same butt scooting, licking behavior as dogs when impacted. Owners must be aware of redness or swelling around the anus.


If your dog is showing these behaviors, have your veterinarian manually drain the glands. KIDS, DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME. If a dog does not have a predisposition to this disorder, preventative draining is not necessary. It is important not to drain healthy glands too frequently because this can lead to unnecessary irritation.

However, if your pet does have frequent bouts of soft stool or has had an impaction in the past, a yearly drainage should be considered.

Crabbapple Beds and Bones provides anal gland drainage. (770) 754-1700