Have you ever seen a dog scoot across the floor? Some people who have never seen it think it’s funny, but to the dog it’s anything but funny!
Scooting is when a dog uses his hind legs to drag his butt along the floor, sometimes fairly quickly. It usually is a sign that something is irritating the dog and the reason is almost always that his anal glands are full, or worse yet, impacted.
These swollen anal glands can really impact on the dog’s quality of life and therefore on our quality of life because no one wants to see their pet suffer.
So what are anal glands?
Dogs have two anal sacs, also called anal glands, one on each side of their anus. They are located at 4 and 8 o’clock. These glands produce a VERY stinky fluid as far as we humans judge, but by which dogs will recognize each other by smelling in the general area of the anus.
These sacs secrete this fluid when the dog has a bowel movement. At that time due to pressure on the glands, they will express (excrete) some of the fluid at the edge of the anus.
If the anal glands aren’t properly emptied they make the dog’s bowel movement painful which could lead to infections. This is where scooting happens – the dog drags his rear end on the floor for some relief.
To avoid this and to help keep your dog healthy, most people take their dogs to the vet to have the glands fully expressed. You can do it yourself if you’re willing to put up with the stink and the mess. You can use the analogy of changing your own oil in your car or taking it to a mechanic to avoid the mess. Your choice!
So how do you know when something may be wrong with anal glands? Here are some potential signs and symptoms:
- Blood in the stool on the carpet
- A bad odor that doesn’t smell like feces
- Licking and chewing around the dog’s rear end to alleviate the irritation of full glands
- Straining and painful defecation (hurts when they poop)
However, there are more adverse symptoms that you might see which mean that there is an infection, such as:
- A swollen area around the anus with a possible abscess or hole that discharges pus
- Blood or pus on the floor from the discharge
If this occurs, immediately get your dog to your vet for treatment. If you ignore these signs then your dog can become very sick and even die!
Some dogs continually get anal gland infections so the vet may want to remove them which will stop future problems. Don’t worry, if this procedure is done, the dog won’t suffer if he doesn’t have anal glands.
Bottom line – watch for scooting or any of the above symptoms. If they are present, get your dog to the vet. It will make a happier life for both you and your dog.
But before I go, let me explain to you how anal glands are emptied:
- Wash your dog’s rear end well with soap and water and rinse thoroughly
- Wear a pair of latex gloves from any pharmacy because it can get messy
- Lift the tail so that you can easily feel the glands
- Put your fingers at the 4 and 8 o’clock position and gently squeeze them together, starting at the base – you will see the fluid come out.
- Wipe the fluid away and wash and rinse the area. Remember, the fluid can have a very bad odor so make sure their rear end is clean and without any smell.
And that’s it. If you don’t want to do the procedure yourself (and many people don’t after the first experience), take your dog to the vet.
Here’s a tip: Sometimes your groomer will do the procedure, but now always. This can save you money, especially if the dog is being groomed at the same time.
So, the bottom line if you want to keep your dog comfortable and your floors clean, watch for signs of anal gland discomfort and do something about it immediately. Your dog will thank you for it.