Seeing a dog scooting across the carpet may be funny enough, but that awful fishy smell following the act, when the dog is successful in emptying its anal glands may be far from being funny. Anal glands are found at the 4 o’clock at 8′ o’ clock position around the dog’s rectum. They are not visible to the eye, but they may be felt in the area if palpated. Their main function is to provide dogs with a unique scent which is used for scent marking and self defense (think skunk). It is not surprising now to understand why when two dogs meet, the first thing they do is to sniff each other’s behind!
Anal glands typically contain a secretion which is excreted when the dog defecates. Bowel movements therefore, will cause anal glands to be successfully emptied. However not all dogs are fortunate enough and in part this may be do to domestication. Some may suffer from chronic diarrhea or soft stools so their stools may not be firm enough to cause the glands to empty, while others are simply prone to this problem regardless of how they defecate. A dog with an anal gland problem will therefore, scoot, insistently lick its bottom, have trouble sitting and sometimes even chase its tail.
- Learn How to Do it Yourself
Relief is fortunately easy, all it takes is to manually empty the glands. The most effective way is to digitally insert a gloved finger in the rectum and squeeze the gland until it empties. This is best if done by a veterinarian, however if the owner is interested and willing to do so, the vet may give a demonstration so the owner can effectively empty the gland at home.
- However, in some cases, leave it to the Pros
Owners attempting this at home should be wary of the fact that the secretions may be pasty and the glands may be hard to excrete. If difficulties are encountered, it is best to leave this practice to the pros. Protection is important, as it is not uncommon for squirts to leave terribly odorous marks on cloths and even walls.
- Diet Changes
Dogs with anal gland problems may benefit from a high fiber diet. Ask your vet for a recommendation, or look at pet food labels. As with every new dog foods, remember to introduce it gradually over the course of one week by adding the new food slowly to the old to prevent stomach upset.
- The Benefits of Pumpkin
Some canned pumpkin (not the pie filling which has spices added) added to the dog’s food daily can be beneficial. This may help firm up the stools and make them of the ideal consistency that will empty the glands as they pass.
- Pass some Comfort
Some temporary relief may be provided by applying a warm compress soaked with lukewarm water to the area for about five minutes during the day until the dog can be seen by the veterinarian. Refraining form emptying a sac may result in an abscess that may become very painful. Affected dogs therefore benefit from being seen as soon as symptoms arise. There are other causes of scooting in dogs such as perianal fistulas, allergies, hot spots, mats under the tail, parasites and in some cases even tumors. For this very reason, when a dog starts scooting it is best to have the vet examine him/her so to rule out these other causes and then ultimately, provide the very deserved relief.
*Disclaimer: All remedies suggested are not to be used as a substitute for professional veterinary advice. If your pet is sick please refer to your veterinarian for a hands on examination. If your pet is exhibiting behavior problems please refer to a professional pet behaviorist.