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Anal Glands in Dogs and Cats

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What are they?

Dogs and cats have two anal glands which are small glands (also called sacs) on either side of the anus just inside the rectum, at the 4 o’clock and 8 o’clock positions. They are filled with a powerfully scented material. Their purpose in dogs and cats is primarily for territorial marking and communication. Every time the dog or cat passes a stool, a small amount of secretion is pushed out from the anal glands, leaving its unique scent behind.

Often, however, the anal glands don’t empty as well or as frequently as they should and the secretions build up inside the glands until they are too full. This can lead to blocked or even abscessed glands.

How to recognise a problem

If your dog or cat has an anal gland issue, you may notice some or all of the following signs:

  • Scooting their bottom along the ground
  • Licking or chewing around their tail and anus
  • Licking their paws compulsively
  • A hunched posture, wanting to sit down frequently or trying to hide their back end

What to do about it?

If you suspect a problem with your pet’s anal glands, book them in for a check with one of our vets or nurses. Sometimes the anal glands are too full and just need expression (where we squeeze the glands gently to empty them completely) – this can be done by one of our staff members for no charge. If the anal glands are blocked, infected, or very difficult to express, your pet will need to see a vet for a consultation, who may prescribe medications like antibiotics, anti-inflammatories and pain relief to help resolve the issue.

Some dogs and cats, particularly small-breed dogs, need their anal glands expressed manually on a regular basis, sometimes every few months or as often as every few weeks. If you would like to learn how to express your pet’s anal glands yourself our staff will happily show you how, although a word of warning – it can be a smelly procedure, so you may want to leave it to the professionals!

Call us to book in your pet’s FREE anal gland check today