What is the use of anal glands?
All Dogs and Cats have anal glands. They are used primarily for territorial marking or as a form of communication.
Every time a stool is passed, it should put enough pressure on the anal glands that some of the secretion is deposited on the surface of the stool. Other dogs and cats are then able to tell who has been in the neighbourhood by sniffing the stools they find. Additionally, dogs and cats recognise each other by smelling each other in the general area of the anus, since each animal’s anal glands produce a unique scent.
Impacted anal glands are a very, very common problem for dogs, especially the smaller breeds. This can occur for various reasons, such as: • With reduced breed size can come reduced gland size • Soft food making soft stools not putting enough pressure on the glands to empty them • Low set tails, eg in German Shepherds • Thickness of the gland’s secretion
These glands and their ducts often become clogged, or ‘impacted’. When this occurs the gland becomes infected and an abscess can form. This can be easy for us as groomers to spot in smooth haired dogs as before the abscess bursts the area to the side of the anus can appear red or bruised, often with a puss-filled area in the middle. More often though we will see a gaping hole!
This is an extremely painful problem and if a dog or cat is presented to you with an anal abscess the owner should be advised to get treatment the same day. If the abscess has ruptured – and the dog will let you – try and clip the hair away from the area and wash it with an anti bacterial wash like Hibiscrub.