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​​​Anal Glands

Dog anal gland disorders are frequently the result of high fiber, high carbohydrate diets.
The solution: a raw or cooked meat-based dog food diet containing no grains.


A meat-based diet creates a harder stool that excretes the anal glands more completely and can relieve the symptoms.

Dog anal glands are two small glands located within and on either side of the anus. They are filled with a brown substance that has a very foul, musky smell. Based on dog behavior, it is thought that the purpose of the anal glands is for the application of pheromone-rich secretion to the outside of the stool, in order to mark territory. This function is thought to be of great importance to roaming animals. When dogs meet one another, they also raise their tails and excrete a small amount of this substance.

Most dogs empty these glands on their own whenever they have a bowel movement or during exercise. However, dog anal glands are frequently impacted, and the problem usually occurs in smaller breeds. These glands become impacted for a variety of reasons, the main one being a high fiber diet of commercial dog food. The glands do not express properly in the presence of a soft, fibrous stool. The dog's natural stool consistency tends to be rather dry and hard if a raw or cooked meat-based diet is being fed. These small, dry stools are more effective at expressing the anal glands than a softer, larger stool. In our experience, veterinarians do not understand this concept, and usually recommend a high fiber diet.

'Scooting', licking and biting the anal area may indicate compaction or infection. Examination by a veterinarian is needed, and antibiotic treatment may be necessary if infection is present. Some complications from anal gland compaction, infection or abcess may occur, including: fistulous tracts leading from the infected sacs and rupturing through the skin. Occasionally a rash around the anus may develop due to self-trauma, and matters may progress to the point of temperament changes.

Many pets may rub or lick their rectal area for reasons other than impacted anal glands. Allergies, tumours or parasites may be the cause of the discomfort, however the vast majority of cases point to anal gland issues. Manual expression by a vet or pet groomer is often helpful, but the best option is a healthy diet. The bulk (grains) should be eliminated from the dog's meal plan, and a healthy meat-based diet should be fed exclusively.If a change in diet and/or medication does not alleviate the situation, surgery may be the only reasonable alternative, however this should be a last resort. 

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