Impacted Anal Glands in Dogs

Impacted Anal Glands in Dogs - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

Most common symptoms

Bleeding / Diarrhea / Licking / Odor / Straining To Defecate

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Rated as moderate conditon

21 Veterinary Answers

Most common symptoms

Bleeding / Diarrhea / Licking / Odor / Straining To Defecate

Impacted Anal Glands in Dogs - Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost

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What are Impacted Anal Glands?

Impacted anal glands are often the first stage of anal sac disease. As the impacted anal glands become swollen and distended, they become inflamed and can make it painful for your dog to pass feces. This second stage of inflammation is referred to as sacculitis. Bacteria can begin to grow and cause an infection.  

The final stage is when an abscess forms. If the abscess bursts, pus will ooze out, spreading the infection to the anus and rectum, and leave a hole next to the anus that may need surgical treatment.

The anal glands are small, oval-shaped, and located in the rectum on both sides of the anus. The glands produce a greasy, foul-smelling substance that acts as a territorial marker for dogs. Normally, stool will push against the sacs while exiting through the rectum and force the yellow-brown to gray substance to be secreted out with it.

But if for some reason the pressure is not enough to cause this to occur, the substance can build up in the anal glands and thicken, thereby plugging the glands. Impacted anal glands can then begin to swell and become irritated, causing discomfort and possibly an infection in your dog.

Symptoms of Impacted Anal Glands in Dogs

Symptoms of impacted anal glands should be taken seriously. If left untreated, an impaction can lead to a serious infection. Signs that include excessive attention or wariness of your dog’s anal area can be a clear indication that something is wrong. Symptoms you may see include:

  • Scooting rear end along the ground
  • Excessive licking or biting at anal area or root of the tail
  • Excessive tail chasing
  • Painful defecation
  • Straining to defecate
  • Foul odor from rear end
  • Red, swollen, and painful anal area
  • Increased aggressiveness 
  • Brown or red discharges from anal area, often spotting the floor
  • Diarrhea or other digestive problems preceding other symptoms
  • Abscess near rectum
  • Hole near rectum that releases bloody or greenish-yellow pus
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Causes of Impacted Anal Glands in Dogs

Anal glands can become impacted if the substance inside is prevented from being secreted, thus allowing it to thicken. This will swell the sacs and plug the ducts, further preventing any secretions from leaving the sacs. Reasons this could occur include:

  • Inflammation of the anal sacs
  • Loose or irregular stools
  • Trauma, such as from pinching, squeezing, or unnecessarily manually expressing the glands
  • Obesity
  • Infections
  • Skin disorders
  • Excessive gland production
  • Poor muscle tone
  • Tumor 

Impacted anal glands are more commonly seen in obese and older dogs, perhaps due to the fact of a decreased ability to groom. All breeds can be affected by impaction, but it does seem to affect smaller breeds more often. Commonly affected breeds include:

  • Chihuahua
  • Dachshund
  • Miniature Poodle
  • Toy Poodle
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Diagnosis of Impacted Anal Glands in Dogs

In order to diagnose impacted anal glands in your dog, your veterinarian will need to know when you first saw symptoms, the progression of symptoms, any recent illnesses or injuries your dog may have had, any changes of behavior or diet, and if your dog has had his anal glands manually expressed, either at home or from a groomer. A physical examination will often include a rectal exam. If the anal sacs are impacted or infected, your vet will be able to see it immediately. Through examining this area and noting any secretions, fluids, or blood, your vet can often diagnose this condition.

Your veterinarian will want to discover why your dog’s anal sacs have become impacted, and may run a series of tests. A urinalysis, fecal testing, anal swab, and blood work can all give your vet significant information about your dog’s health. In some cases, they can rule out causes or conditions, while in others, they can show hormonal, electrolyte, and other chemical levels or abnormalities that can help find a reason behind the impaction. X-rays may also be employed to look for tumors or other physical causes.

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Treatment of Impacted Anal Glands in Dogs

Treating impacted anal glands may be as easy as having your veterinarian manually express your dog’s anal glands. This is accomplished by squeezing the small glands individually until the thickened substance is secreted out. If your dog’s impaction is severe, or has become infected, your dog may need to be sedated so that the glands can be flushed out with saline, or a softening solution. While one treatment may be sufficient, your vet may recommend that your dog have periodic manual expression of the glands to prevent the condition from recurring. 

Topical steroid ointment can relieve the inflammation, while topical or oral antibiotics can eliminate infections. If an abscess is present, surgery, antibiotics, and hot compresses can help them to heal. Pain medication may also be prescribed to make your dog more comfortable while the swelling and inflammation recede. Several treatments can help to re-establish anal gland health, such as dietary changes, homeopathic remedies, stool softeners, or anti-inflammatories for the GI system. 

In very severe cases, or for recurring impactions, your vet may recommend having your dog’s anal sacs surgically removed. While this does provide a permanent solution, it can result in fecal incontinence in your dog.

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Recovery of Impacted Anal Glands in Dogs

Many dogs who have experienced an anal sac impaction will see it recur. Every time this happens, the ducts leading out of the sacs can become more damaged, which can cause another impaction. If the problem becomes chronic, surgery can provide a permanent solution. While the prognosis of recovery from surgery or other treatments is good to fair, you will need to monitor your dog. Periodic anal sac expression may be recommended. Using a warm compress on your dog’s anal area can relieve the pain and swelling after treatments, and feeding a high fiber diet may prevent impaction from occurring again.

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Impacted Anal Glands Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Ask a Vet

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dog-breed-icon

Maltese

dog-age-icon

Six Years

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Dragginb His Bavk Legs, Lameness

Hi there. I took my dog to the vet as he was acting painful. They said his anal glands needed to be expressed, they were full. They also found a "cyst", and drained it. Sent him home with antibiotics, and pain meds. 4 days later, he was acting worse. Couldnt walk very well, and not wanting to move. Took him back in, and they said what they thought was a cyst, was an abcess, and upon examination, it erupted. They have him steroids. He is unable to use his back left leg, and is dragging himself a lot, and can barely walk. Is this normal?

Aug. 2, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I'm sorry that your dog is not doing well, that sounds quite traumatic. Without knowing where the cyst was, it is difficult to say is this might be expected, but it does sound quite unusual to me. I think it might be worth getting a second opinion on what might be going on, as that is concerning that he is not using his leg. Having another veterinarian look at him and be able to examine him would be a good idea as they can see what is going on and give you an idea as to what might be happening. I hope that he is okay.

Aug. 2, 2020

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Pit Bull

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Twenty One Months

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Unknown severity

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0 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Trouble Walking

My dog is having trouble standing up and walking. I took her to the vet and they gave her the carprofen for inflammation and once she stopped taking that her symptoms come back.

July 13, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Ellen M. DVM

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0 Recommendations

a

July 13, 2020

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Shane

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Chihuahua, Long Haired

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8 Years

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Butt Discomfort
Butt Discomfort And Foot Limping

Hi, my name is Sherry and my long Haired Chihuahua is Shane. We got him when he was 2 years old and have had no problems but bad breath. However for a long while Shane has done some strange things. for example he well not hold his tail u0 and he will lick and sniff his butt and then well run from it into the other room. he also has his pretty tail down unless around a female dog. I was feeling it just now and one side seems swollen a bit, however it is not tender to the touch. no excretions. I have never been successful at excreting his glands although I have tried in the past. We have another bigger dog we are helping out with. 30 lb. my dog has had a hurt paw and limps or holds it up sometimes. How I really don't think it is a break because he still uses it sometimes and it is not tender to the touch. What do you think is the proper time for a sprain to heal. and should it be wrapped? I know I should take him to the vet but I don't have the money to spare.

July 29, 2018

Shane's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

There are many causes for discomfort around the anus which may be caused by anal gland issues, trauma to the anus, perineal herniation among other issues; you should keep an eye on Shane but a visit to a Veterinarian may be needed to have a feel to ensure it isn’t something more serious (tumour, abscess etc…). As for the bigger dog, you should try to restrict movement to prevent further injury, don’t try to wrap the leg only ensure plenty of rest; there is no specific time frame but you should see improvement over the week if movement is restricted. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 30, 2018

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Cody Sir Charles

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Mini pin

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14 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

None

Cody is a 14 yr old mini doberman and chiwawa. For the 1st time he was biting at his tail and in pain. a vet took care of the anal glands but said the left anal gland either had a tumor or built up scar tissue????? he was given antibiotic and pain med. his lil bum isn't red anymore but he is lethargic. He still does a good walk in the morning. On a limited income. Please help us

July 23, 2018

Cody Sir Charles' Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1611 Recommendations

All that you can do for that situation at this point is to give the medications that your veterinarian gave, and have him rechecked to see if the gland is improving, growing in size, or staying the same, as that may give a clue whether it is a tumor or benign scar tissue. I hope that all goes well for Cody.

July 23, 2018

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Amy

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Pug

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10 Years

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Very Painfull
Licking Her Self Alot Don Wthere
Licking Her Self Alot Down Ther
Rubbing Butt On Ground

Today i noticed on my pugs butt a large bump about the size of a gum ball its only on her left side of her anal no bumps on the right side. She is in alot of pain keeps running from me when i tried to look at it when i first noticed it she yelped when i barly touched it and lifted up her tail

July 9, 2018

Amy's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

This would be something to see your Veterinarian about immediately since an anal gland abscess, tumour or other issue can be severely painful and many times leads to constipation, pain while defecating and other issues. There isn’t anything I can recommend that you do at home, your Veterinarian will determine the type of mass and will treat accordingly. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 10, 2018

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Tank

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Mastiff

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3 Years

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Painful To Stand/Walk

I took my 3 yr old Mastiff mix in to the vet and he had impacted anal glands. they were expessed and we were sent home. Today he is having trouble walking and standing and whimpers and looks at me for help. I called the vet and he said this is normal and nothing I could do for him. They didn't give us any antibiotics or anything. is this truly normal and what can I do?

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Boysie

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German Shepherd

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6 Years

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Serious severity

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1 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Walking Tenderly
Finding It Hard To Walk

My almost 7 year old German Shepard had started to walk weird thought his back legs were hurt , took him to the vet he had xrays they noticed he had ruptured anal glands gave him antibiotics but said that that Wouldn’t be causes him to walk like that since antibiotics he hasnt really got any better his back legs seem weak and it hard for him to get up from laying down or sitting his licking his bum a lot , I’m just concerned that it might be the reason ,he is being referred to Fitzpatrick which is going to cost a fortune but wondered if anyone would be able to advice before we take him next week

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Rose

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miniature poodle

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2 Years

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Moderate severity

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1 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Licking
Scooting
Minimal Walking
Has Not Peed

After taking Rose to get groomed I noticed she was very uncomfortable and would not stop licking herself. After a few days I took her back to the groomers, they told me both her anal glands were inflamed. After we got to the Vet they told me her right side was infected. She was sedated & they drained the abscess. She was sent home with 2 oral medications, an E- collar & a staple where they drained the abscess. An hour after being home she was bleeding heavily and puss was coming out. Eventually it stopped but now she has not peed or pooped. She is having trouble walking and wants to just sit on the staple or scoot on the staple. Is this normal, how do I get her to pee?

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Gucci

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Chihuahua

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1 Year

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Fair severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Licking And Scooting

My dog has been licking his bum alot recently and i thought it was because he was farting and i let it be for a while until he would just lay down all day not wanting to get up or play. I searched it up and it brought me here. I dried doing the remedy by myself (emptying his anal glands) but nothing came out!! And he is still the same and im a little worried. I need some advice asap! Btw he started this after being on medication for his injury that he got (which i stopped giving him). Please someone help!

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sadie

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Cava-poo

dog-age-icon

9 Years

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Mild severity

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2 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Sore Rear End Of Body

hello!!! I will say about 5 days ago i woke to my Cavapoo seeming a little off... I assumed just a upset tummy but she was still eating and drinking like normal. the next day i realized she seemed more stiff and sore more then anything in the rear end. I had seen that she was still peeing and pooping but she seemed very unsure when she would poop though. after doing to research and the bum scooting she had done a couple time but not excessive licking, so after taking quick look saw that her anal glands were a little bigger and swelled up. I had learned in my VA training how to express the glands so i proceed to grab the gloves and cloth and did it myself. everything went well and to be honest the secretion didn't even have a crazy bad odor and made sure to fully empty . it's been about 2 days all though a lot has changed in her willingness to walk around and jump up on the couch she still isn't fully comfortable in the rear end. IE, wont sit pretty or jump up on the bed instead sleeps under the bed at night... could this just be a slow recovery from swelling and expression??? at this moment her bum looks fine even better the yesterday, no blood in stool or pee and is walking around normally just seems a little unstable on her landings and stairs.

Cannanine