Each Anal Gland constantly produces a secretion with a pungent odor unique to your dog. Along with urine, the anal secretion is in fact, your dog’s “odor signature” to other dogs.
Dogs, being scent orientated, identify each other by their sense of smell. Dogs will “mark their territory” with urine, which usually does not change much in odor. Because the stool’s odor varies with diet, the anal gland secretes a small amount of fluid on the stool with each normal bowel movement, marking it with the dog’s “odor signature.”
The Anal Gland is an active working gland located just below and slightly outside the anus. In most dogs, the anal gland is self-cleaning, and does not require routine cleaning.
Occasionally the glands can get clogged or blocked, causing the dog to lick at its anus or drag its rear across the floor or ground. Sometimes these actions will empty the anal gland. If the gland remains clogged, it can become infected very quickly, abscess, and can even rupture. An absessed anal gland or ruptured anal gland is a veterinary emergency.
Diet plays an important role in maintaining a healthy anal gland. Since it is the pressure applied by a normal, solid bowel movement that expresses the gland, diarrhea and soft stools may not apply enough pressure to completely empty it. If your dog has a repeating problem, you need to adjust its diet to eliminate diarrhea and soft stools. Finding a dog food that your dog can digest easily, and then staying with that food, will insure firm stools, reducing problems with the anal gland.
If your dog’s gland is overactive or you can not control the problem, then you can learn how to express the anal gland at home. Checking your dog’s anal gland is an important part of caring for your pet, is easy to learn and can save you hundreds of dollars in vet bills.
Routinely cleaning a healthy anal gland has no benefit and can actually cause harm by disturbing the natural balance of the secretions or by causing irritation. If your dog has a persistent problem, we recommend you talk to your veterinarian. If it is ruptured or appears infected seek immediate veterinary help.