What are anal glands?

Anal glands are small pea sized glands located just inside the anal sphincter at 4 and 8 o’clock as you look at it. Both dogs and cats have anal glands.

What do they do?

They are scent glands. Animals release a small amount of scent when they defaecate but can also release them when they are scared or frightened.

How do they work?

Normally the anal gland is squeezed by the faeces passing through the anal sphincter.

What can go wrong?

Sometimes the glands can become blocked or impacted. This sometimes is caused by diarrhoea or soft faeces as they don’t squeeze the gland properly, but it can happen for no apparent reason. Anal glands can also become infected because of their close proximity to the anus. If left untreated these can form an abscess. Anal glands can also be affected by tumours as well.

What to look for ?

Animals with full anal glands often scoot their bottoms along the ground, leading people to falsely believe they may have worms. If there is an infection or the area is sore sometimes the dogs will sit down suddenly or lick at the base of their tail

What can be done?

The anal glands can easily be expressed using one of two techniques. For animals that require regular expressing of the glands we can teach you how to express the glands yourself, although most people still prefer us to do the job.

If the glands are infected a course of antibiotics is required and if an abscess has formed then we need to lance and flush the abscess either under heavy sedation or general anaesthetic.

In the case of tumours or recurrent infections the glands may be permanently removed. This is only performed if absolutely necessary as a very  uncommon but unpleasant complication can be permanent faecal incontinence.