Inflamed anal glands in dogs: symptoms, causes, treatment

The anal glands in dogs release scent mark so that the dog can mark its territory. Unfortunately, the glands in the anus can become inflamed. Here you can find out what symptoms anal gland inflammation brings with it, what causes it and what the treatment of the disease looks like.

In contrast to larger dogs, small dog breeds such as Beagles, Maltese or Spaniels are more frequently affected by inflamed anal glands. The inflammation is usually very uncomfortable for a dog, so you should take the patient to the vet as soon as possible.

Anal gland inflammation in dogs: what is it exactly?

The anal glands produce a secretion that contains each dog’s unique scent mark. This secretion is absorbed by so-called anal sacs located to the left and right of the anus opening. Especially when the dog excretes faeces, the anal sacs release the scent mark secretion to the outside.

However, the discharge may thicken, or your dog may not be able to defecate due to constipation or other voiding problems. As a result, the secretion cannot pass freely through the anal glands and anal sacs. Bacteria then have an easy time and can cause anal bag or anal gland inflammation in the dog. This is usually associated with unpleasant itching and pain for your four-legged friend.

Symptoms of anal gland inflammation

One of the most common signs of inflamed anal glands is “sledding”. Due to the sometimes severe itching and feeling of pressure, the dog presses its rear end onto the ground and scratches back and forth with it.

Your pet will often try to reach the anal region with its tongue or bite its tail. If the disease progresses, boils, abscesses or eczema can form, which you can recognize from the red anus.

Fistulas can also form, which are difficult for the layperson to recognize. However, if your dog suffers from anal gland inflammation, you will often notice the pain when he tries to defecate. Whining or whining can be symptoms of difficult, painful bowel movements. In addition, your four-legged friend may move less and no longer want to sit.

Inflamed anal glands in dogs: possible causes

Anal gland inflammation in dogs is extremely unpleasant for them. There are several possible causes of the disease. Anal gland inflammation is usually caused by the anal glands sticking together or becoming blocked. This can happen as a result of diarrhoea in the dog.

The secretion can no longer be released due to a blockage or adhesion of the glands and then becomes tough. Bacteria can penetrate and cause anal gland inflammation. Other possible causes of inflammation are excessive gland function or allergic reactions.

Diagnosis: Does the dog have anal gland inflammation?

If you notice symptoms in your dog that indicate inflammation in the anal area, your four-legged friend should be examined and treated by the vet as soon as possible. If left untreated, anal gland inflammation can also become chronic.

The veterinarian will examine your four-legged friend physically, which means that they will first inspect the affected area on the anus. If there is swelling and redness here, it is usually an inflammation of the anal glands.

To be sure, the vet will gently touch the area and see if your dog feels any pain. The doctor often massages the anal glands manually to secrete the secretion, which is then examined more closely.

Other diseases and causes such as a flea saliva allergy or foreign bodies stuck to the anus must be ruled out. Only when the doctor is sure that it is an anal gland infection and what caused it can treatment be initiated.

The severity of anal gland inflammation in dogs

If an inflammation of the anal glands is not treated, it can lead to serious problems such as severe pain and fever. There are different degrees of severity, which are often broken down as follows:

The anal sacs are full and do not empty during defecation. They are expanded.

Due to bacteria, the inflammation is purulent and possibly bloody. Itching and problems with defecation set in.

Painful abscesses or fistulas form. The pain can be very severe at this stage, and fever can also occur.

Treating anal gland inflammation in dogs

Therapy for inflamed anal glands usually begins with the vet squeezing out the anal sac, i.e. gently massaging out the secretion it contains. However, this only works if the secretion is liquid or viscous and has not yet hardened. If this has already happened, the hardened secretion must be soaked before the vet can flush it out. Possible abscesses must be cut open.

After the vet has squeezed out the secretion, he flushes the anal glands with an anti-inflammatory solution. Depending on the severity of the inflammation, antibiotics are also used. This is how the actual anal gland inflammation is combated. As a rule, this procedure is repeated a few more times until the rash has completely subsided.

If the anal gland inflammation in the dog is chronic or if there are severe fistula and ulcer formations, an operation or the removal of the anal sac is conceivable. Your veterinarian will give you detailed advice on this.

Can anal gland inflammation be prevented?

If your dog is predisposed to anal gland inflammation, you can regularly massage and empty his anal glands at home. However, consult your veterinarian before doing so, as the right steps are not that easy, and the procedure is not useful for every dog. Let your veterinarian show you exactly what to do and what hygiene measures you have to follow.

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