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Diseases of the anal glands in dogs

You did not even know that dogs had anal glands and suddenly you hear that your dog is suffering from a glut of these glands. So why, how and what treatment? What is commonly called anal glands are actually two small pockets beneath the skin of both sides of the anus, which contain secretions used by the ancestors of the dog to mark their territory. They are also called anal sacs. These pockets are connected to the rectum through ducts that lead to a few millimeters from the anus. When the anal sacs are too full, or when the content does not flow naturally, grow bags and there is a risk of infection.

What are the symptoms of a condition encountered in the anal glands?

The most characteristic sign of engorgement of the anal glands is called the sign “the sled”. The dog is rubbing anus on the floor, dragging himself (with his front legs) while sitting. This causes severe itching in the perianal region, and leads to a frantic licking and anal irritation (redness, sores or licking).

glands in dogs

The main causes: Predispositions

Some dogs are more prone to poor drainage of the anal glands. This is especially dogs of small and medium size! For sensitive dogs, the anal glands are emptied regularly (twice a year on average) to avoid any risk of infection. Your veterinarian will annually dump anal glands and show you the handling. Cats are almost never affected by problems with anal glands.

The obstruction of the anal canal

The engorgement of the anal glands is often a foreign body obstructing the vent. Secretions accumulate, bags distend and become painful. Origins of obstruction are:

• A spikelet : sort of dry grass can penetrate and grow under the skin and into the lower hole (especially in summer). Consult our section about it on the spikelets.
• An intestinal parasite : some to the dog’s digestive lay eggs evacuated by the animal as a segment size of a grain of rice. This segment fits sometimes in the anal canal causing obstruction.
• Irritation or sore : in the region may have damaged the anal canal that mouth. This is the case after a long and severe diarrhea, or a difficult calving.
• An anal sac tumor, peri anal glands or rectum : tumor masses can block the evacuation of the contents of the anal sac. These tumors commonly affect older dogs from 8 to 10 years.


If the cause of obstruction is not removed, or if the gland is not emptied manually, secretions will continue to accumulate, and cause an infection (bacterial growth type Streptococcus or Staphylococcus). The irritation and inflammation of the perianal area may lead to the formation of an abscess or a fistula, the prognosis still worrying because the anal area is difficult to treat.


When your dog shows signs of engorgement of the anal glands (sign of the sled, intense scratching and licking the anal region), first make sure it is up to date its deworming. In many cases indeed, what are worms that are the cause of the obstruction of the ducts and anal itching. If signs do not disappear despite the vermifuge, feel free to bring your dog to the vet: it will ease your companion in him emptying the glands, and it will prescribe an appropriate treatment. Do not expect the formation of an abscess to act! Know that there are, for animals subject to numerous recurrences, a surgical procedure called the sacculectomie, which involves removing the anal sacs. This intervention, which does not have a problem later for the dog’s life, will be performed by your veterinarian under general anesthe

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