Inflamed anal glands in dogs: symptoms, causes, treatment

The anal glands on the dog put off scent marks so that the dog can mark its territory. Unfortunately, the glands on the anus can become inflamed. You can find out here what symptoms an anal gland inflammation brings, what causes it and what the treatment of the disease looks like. Inflamed anal glands are usually easy to treat - Shutterstock / Syda-Productions

Especially small dog breeds such as Beagle, Maltese or Spaniel are more often affected by inflamed anal glands than larger dogs. The inflammation is usually very uncomfortable for a dog, so you should go to the vet with the patient as soon as possible.

Anal gland inflammation in dogs: what is it exactly?

The anal glands produce a secretion that contains the individual fragrance brand of each dog. This secretion is absorbed by so-called anal bags, which are to the left and right of the anus opening. Especially when the dog excretes feces, the anal bags release the fragrance brand secretion to the outside.

However, the secretion may thicken or your dog may not be able to excrete feces due to constipation or other emptying disorders. The secretion can then not be passed freely through the anal glands and the anal bags. Bacteria then have an easy time of it and can cause anal poultice or anal gland inflammation in the dog. For your four-legged friend, this is usually associated with uncomfortable itching and pain.

Symptoms of anal gland inflammation

One of the most common signs of inflamed anal glands is "sledding". Due to the sometimes severe itching and feeling of pressure, the dog presses its rear part onto the floor and scratches it back and forth.

Your pet often tries to reach the anal region with the tongue or bites its tail. If the disease progresses, pustules, abscesses or eczema can form, which you can recognize by the badly reddened anus.

Fistulas can also form that are difficult for the layperson to recognize. If your dog suffers from anal gland inflammation, however, you will often notice the pain when he tries to excrete feces. Whining or whining can be symptoms of difficult, painful bowel movements. In addition, your four-legged friend may move less and no longer want to sit.

Inflamed anal glands in dogs: possible causes

An anal gland inflammation in the dog is extremely uncomfortable for the dog. There are several causes for the disease. As a rule, anal gland inflammation arises from sticking or clogging of the anal glands. This can happen as a result of diarrhea in the dog.

The secretion can no longer be released due to blockage or sticking of the glands and then becomes tough. This allows bacteria to penetrate and cause anal gland inflammation. Other possible causes of inflammation are excessive glandular function or allergic reactions.

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Diagnosis: does the dog have an anal gland infection?

If you see symptoms in your dog that indicate inflammation in the anal area, your four-legged friend should be examined and treated by the veterinarian as soon as possible. If not treated, an anal gland inflammation can also become chronic.

The vet physically examines your four-legged friend, which means that he first inspects the affected area on the anus. If there is swelling and redness here, it is usually an inflammation of the anal glands.

To make sure, the vet gently scans the area and checks if your dog feels pain. The doctor often massages the anal glands manually so that they secrete the secretion, which is then examined in more detail.

It is important that other diseases and causes such as a flea saliva allergy or foreign bodies sticking to the anus are excluded. Only when the doctor is certain that it is an anal gland inflammation and what triggered it can treatment be started.

Severity of anal gland inflammation in dogs

Failure to treat anal gland inflammation can result in serious problems such as severe pain and fever. There are different degrees of severity, which are often structured as follows:

  1. The anal bags are full and do not empty themselves when the feces are removed. They are expanded.
  2. Due to bacteria, the inflammation is purulent and possibly bloody. Itching and problems with vomiting appear.
  3. Painful abscesses or fistulas form. The pain can be very severe at this stage, fever can be added.

Treat the dog's anal gland inflammation

Therapy for inflamed anal glands usually begins with the veterinarian squeezing out the anal pouch, i.e. gently massaging out the secretion it contains. However, this only works if the secretion has become liquid or viscous and has not yet hardened. If this has already happened, the hardened secretion must be soaked before the veterinarian can rinse it out. Possible abscesses have to be cut open.

After the veterinarian squeezes the secretion out, he rinses the anal glands with an anti-inflammatory solution. Depending on the severity of the inflammation, additional antibiotics are used. This is how the actual anal gland inflammation is combated. As a rule, this procedure is repeated a few more times until the inflammation has completely subsided.

If the anal gland inflammation in the dog is chronic or if there are severe fistulas and ulcers, surgery or removal of the anal pouch is conceivable. Your veterinarian will give you detailed advice on this.

Can inflammation of the anal glands be prevented?

If your dog has a predisposition to anal gland inflammation, you can regularly massage and empty his anal glands at home. Be sure to consult your veterinarian before doing this, as the correct steps are not easy and the procedure is not useful for every dog. Let your veterinarian show you exactly what you are doing and what hygiene measures you have to follow.

In the video you can see what such an emptying can look like:

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