Q2 – My dog has just suffered with an abscess on her anal gland and has had to have it drained as well as having had a couple of weeks of antibiotics to get rid of the infection. She is now over it but why do anal glands fill up and get infected and is it something that I am doing with her diet that is causing it?
Anal glands are small pouches, roughly the size of a grape, that sit just inside the entrance to your dogs’ bottom. If you imagine a clock face they are situated at about the 5 and 7 o’clock position. The glands purpose is to store the liquid that coats your dog’s poo and marks it with their individual scent. They should empty their secretion onto the poo as it passes through. When this does not happen, the glands can become too full, and cause irritation. Over time, full glands are more likely to get infected. When this happens the secretion will turn onto pus. This condition can be very painful.
The glands can become overly full if your dog has very soft poo, which therefore does not put pressure on the gland to empty. This may be related to a bout of diarrhoea, or to dietary composition and some people suggest adding extra fibre or other stool bulking agents to your dog’s food to help combat this. If you suspect this may be a factor with your dog then I would recommend you discuss it with your vet. In my experience, there are many dogs with good diets and well-formed stools that suffer from regular anal gland problems and I can only conclude that they are just unlucky, and maybe have a small or badly positioned opening to the gland. For these dogs, careful monitoring is the starting point. Your dog may well show you signs that the glands are getting full. Typically this will be a combination of the following: Licking and chewing at their bottom, hind legs and/or tail, dragging their bottom along the ground and jumping round as if bitten on the behind! If you notice any of these signs, take your dog to a vet who will be able to express the glands. This will relieve the discomfort and will hopefully help avoid an infection.