Yes, It’s Gross: But We Need to Talk about Anal Glands

It’s definitely not a dinner table subject; but what you know – or don’t know – about anal glands (or anal sacs) is critical to your dog’s (and even cat’s) overall health.

Why? Anal glands that are not routinely and correctly expressed (or emptied), or are not functioning properly, can become swollen and lead to discomfort and even infection. According to Dogs Naturally Magazine, 12% of dogs will have issues with anal gland disease.

Here’s what you need to know about this very “delicate” and stinky topic. Let’s start with the basics and what you can do to help prevent and address potential issues.

Anal Glands: 101

What and Where:

  • Anal glands or sacs are two small glands (little oval receptacles shaped like grapes) located just below – and to either side of – your dog’s anus. (Just like on a skunk!)
  • These glands are essential to a dog’s natural behavior (both male and female) to “mark his territory” just likes he does with his urine. These glands contain a scent-exclusive fluid which is secreted when he poops leaving behind a unique “signature.” It’s the same scent dogs look for when sniffing each other’s butts. Anal glands are also used to eliminate other toxins from your dog’s body (including drugs, chemicals, poor nutrition and vaccines).
  • In order for your dog’s anal glands to naturally express themselves during defecation (or even times of stress), dogs need to consume an effective amount of fiber (just like their human owners). Unfortunately, the average canine diet today often lacks inadequate fiber.
  • Glands that are not regularly expressed (whether naturally or manually) can become painful, impacted or blocked, bacterially-infected (sometimes chronically), abscessed and produce a horrific odor. (In extreme cases only, a veterinarian may elect to surgically remove the glands.)
    Small, obese canines are typically at the greatest risk.


  • Dragging/scooting the butt along the floor/carpet/rug or
  • />even outside;
  • Biting or licking their butt;
  • Constipation or pain/discomfort when pooping;
  • Yellow or bloody pus discharge;
  • Cats suddenly defecating outside their litter box;
  • Uncharacteristic fear or anger due to anal gland discomfort or pain;
  • Discomfort while sitting or trying to sit or stand; and
  • Chasing his tail.

How to Treat (Discuss with your vet first):

  • If necessary, manually express the glands (by your vet, groomer or yourself if you have been shown how by a professional).
  • Feed a high-quality food (less processed with more fresh and wholesome options and fewer grains) with an appropriate amount of high-quality fiber.
  • Avoid foods with corn, potato, oatmeal, wheat, rice or soy.
  • Add a fiber-rich bone broth to meals (see Resource #1 below for a recipe).
  • Feed a balanced, species- and biologically-appropriate diet.
  • Provide plenty of exercises to help keep the bowels functioning and moving properly.
  • Add probiotics and digestive enzymes.  (We recommend a fiber-rich supplement such as Super Snouts GI Balance)
  • Try homeopathic options and remedies.

(If you see your dog “scooting” (or dragging) their butt across the floor, their anal glands may need attention. Your veterinarian or even groomer (like those at the Ken Caryl Pet Spa) can help identify the issue and empty the affected glands and/or show you how to do it.)


A Healthy Dog is a Clean Dog … Inside and Out!

Ken Caryl Pet Spa

Keep your pet’s skin, coat, teeth, ears and butt healthy with our grooming services!

Just call us at 720-981-7387 or email us at today.

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