Anal Gland Problems in Dogs: Causes and Solutions


Anal glands are a paired organ of external secretion, emitting a special odorous substance for territory marking, attracting attention of the opposite sex, or scaring enemies off. They look like the dog has lumps near anus that seem to be like small ‘sacs’. In certain conditions, their passages get blocked, the cavity gradually enlarges, which leads to the development of inflammation.


The natural release of the para-anal glands occurs during defecation, sometimes it happens when the animal is stressed or physically exhaustion. Most experts believe that the gland is a rudimentary organ in dogs, since in the process of evolution it ceased to function in its intended mode. Since it has no functionality, the secret often stagnates.

The most obvious symptom of anal gland inflammation is that the dog has a large lump near its anus and performs the ‘butt scooting’.

Dogs with proper nutrition and regular exercise do not usually suffer from blockage of the glands. Disease overtakes sedentary animals and those pets suffering from disturbed digestion. Other factors contributing to the  inflammation:

  • Dehydration; most often the disease is found in small breeds: pug, dachshund, bulldog, Pekingese;
  • dog has soft lumps near anusobese dogs are at risk, so they need regular preventive cleaning;
  • lack of control over the condition of the glands, especially in decorative dogs;
  • weakened immunity system;
  • injuries to the anus and subsequent bacterial contamination;
  • the dog is fed with bones;
  • lack of regular hygiene;
  • excess protein in the diet;
  • pregnancy;
  • active mating;
  • certain infections.

Development Mechanism

Engorgement of glands leads to their increased size, inflammation, which impede the nirmal process of their emptying. Usually, there are several stages in the development of such pathological process when dog has visible lumps near anus:

  1. dog has hard lumps near anusdisrupted natural defluvium;
  2. glands engorgement;
  3. secret thickens;
  4. the cavity becomes inflamed, causing itching and soreness in the anus;
  5. irritated surface becomes a perfect breeding soil for germs;
  6. secondary microflora causes even more inflammation, leading to suppuration and abscess formation;
  7. sooner or later the abscess breaks, forming a fistula, in other words, a hole in the gland cavity;
  8. the fever rises.

Lack of treatment or delayed cleaning can be fatal in this case. But even after the operation, when the ducts are already overgrown with connective tissue, the glands tend to fester again and again, therefore, they have to be removed.

Signs of Inflammation

The dogs, when trying to squeeze out the accumulated liquid and soothe the unpleasant sensations, drag their bottom on a floor or constantly lick the sore spot under the tail, as if gnawing out nonexistent fleas. When inspecting the anus, you can observe on its sides two small (or sometimes very much enlarged) swollen lumps of a dense consistency, that are not usually there.

Inflammation of the anal glands must be distinguished from perineal hernia, the presence of helminths or allergies.

Treatment Measures

In fact, the way of treatment depends on the severity of the inflammatory process. In some cases, a single cleaning procedure is enough to stabilize the condition, in others it is necessary to completely remove the anal glands, especially if the secret is very thick and pasty. In addition to mechanical cleansing these measures are usually dog has big lumps near anusprescribed:

  • with severe pain, Novocain block,
  • antibiotic therapy, especially when the purulent microflora is detected,
  • bathing of the glands with antiseptic solutions.

Anyway, always rely on the opinion of the veterinarian, who can assess the situation and predict its development.

How to Perform Cleansing at Home?

Preventive cleansing of the dog’s anal glands can be carried out by the pet’s owner at home. For this you need some Vaseline oil and a sterile glove. Insert your index finger into the rectum, thus glands form dense ‘balls’ that can be easily palpated on the sides of the anus. With a slight massaging movement, squeeze their contents from both sides.

The frequency of the procedure is very individual: some pets need it performed only once in 6 months, while others have to endure all the horrors of cleansing every month or even more frequently.

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