Question Our dog often has problems with her anal glands. She keeps rubbing her backside on the floor. Is she in pain? Can we help her ourselves without going to the veterinarian each time this happens?
Answer Anal glands are two paired glands located within and below the external anal sphincter muscle and can often be a problem in dogs. They produce a thick substance that may have at one time been used to mark territory when dogs were wild. They serve very little purpose in the modern domestic dog.
When the anal glands become full or impacted, the dog may experience some discomfort. The glands become VERY itchy and irritated. Actual pain is difficult to assess, but some believe that they can be painful in some cases. When the dog licks, chews or scoots on its bottom, it is attempting to express the glands on its own.
To express anal glands does not require a veterinarian. Many groomers will do this as part of their service, and some pet owners will do it themselves. However, expressing anal glands is not a very pleasant task to perform, and many pet owners will give up after one try. Before trying this on your own, ask your veterinarian for a demonstration.
If anal glands become a common problem, they can be surgically removed. The glands serve no real purpose and, like a human appendix, the dog may do much better without them. Many veterinarians are uncomfortable performing this surgery; however, many others do the procedure with a great deal of success and minimal complications.