(ps This also applies to cats, so also beware of your cats backend problems)
Shorty has been trying to “rip her tail off” for the past weeks, so I took her to the vet today. He said she had full anal glands, and they need to be “expressed”. And, express he did. He said he has never seen such full glands before. And, the whole room was very stinky when he was finished. But, it needs to be talked about, so your dog does not go from full glands to impacted abscessed glands. If your dog shows signs of “back end” problems. Take him to the vet, your groomer, or even learn how to do it yourself!
In dogs, these glands are occasionally referred to as “scent glands”, because they enable the animals to mark their territory and identify other dogs. The glands can spontaneously empty, especially under times of stress, and create a very sudden unpleasant change in the odor of the dog. (ps yes, after the vet emptied my Shorty’s glands…phew, did it stink)
The anal glands normally empty when the dog defecates. Failure to empty results in discomfort from the full anal gland pushing on the anus. The glands can be emptied by the dog’s keeper, or more typically by a groomer or veterinarian, by squeezing the gland so the contents are released through the small openings on either side of the anus. Discomfort is evidenced daily use review by the dog scooting its posterior on the ground, licking or biting at the anus, sitting uncomfortably, difficulty sitting or standing, or chasing its tail.
Discomfort may also be evident with impaction or infection of the anal glands. Anal gland impaction results from blockage of the duct leading from the gland to the opening. The gland is usually nonpainful and swollen. Anal gland infection results in pain, swelling, and sometimes abscessation and fever. Treatment is by expression of the gland, lancing of an abscess, and oral antibiotics and antibiotic infusion into the gland in the case of infection. The most common bacterial isolates from anal gland infection are E. coli, Enterococcus faecalis, Clostridium perfringens, and Proteus species.
Anal glands may be removed surgically in a procedure known as anal sacculectomy. This is usually done in the case of recurrent infection or because of the presence of an anal sac adenocarcinoma, a malignant tumor. Potential complications include fecal incontinence (especially when both glands are removed), tenesmus from stricture or scar formation, and persistent draining fistulae.
Anal gland fluid is normally yellow to tan in color and watery in consistency. Impacted anal gland material is usually brown or gray and thick. The presence of blood or pus indicates infection.