Ew, Anal Glands | Boulder Vet Clinic

Jun 29, 2022

Ew, Anal Glands | Boulder Vet Clinic

Anal glands are the worst.  They’re so gross.  In my opinion their smell is perhaps one of the most horrid odors there is.  If you’re out of the loop on anal glands, I apologize for the disruption of your blissful ignorance.  Here’s a brief rundown…

Many mammals have these disgusting pair of sacks right inside the anus, one on either side.  In your average size dog, they’re about the size of a grape.  These sacks are filled with a putrid oily substance which is released through a pore into the anus for no useful purpose whatsoever.  Some people believe they are a scent signature (think dogs smelling each other’s butts), or they may help to lubricate bowel movements, but no one actually knows.  My vote would have been to do away with them, but I wasn’t around when they were developed.

Anal glands are extra annoying because the pores can get obstructed, causing them to swell and become thick with goo.  If the goo can’t escape, the gland then abscesses and ruptures externally on either side of the rectum.  It’s not terribly difficult to treat…sometimes we can get away with antibiotics alone, but we often need to do a minor sedated procedure to clean them out.  Either way it’s no fun for your furry friend and it can leave serious stains all over your house.

If your dog or cat starts licking or scooting their hind end, that’s a sure-fire sign to have their anal glands expressed (scooting is more a dog thing).  We can do these as a tech appointment unless it looks like they’re abscessed.  Expressing anal glands is disgusting dirty work.  Sometimes they explode outward and blast an unsuspecting team member who happens to be passing by, ruining their week and making them reassess their professional choices.  A lot of dogs flat out hate it too which is totally understandable, but if those glands are full it just has to be done, like draining a septic tank.  There’s no way around it.

Some people request we routinely do it evening if there isn’t a problem.  My two cents though is this;  if the glands haven’t been an issue previously, leave them alone.  One of my dogs is 10 now and I’ve never expressed them.  My other dog does need it occasionally, and I do it when he starts scooting his butt on the rugs.  Some other vets will disagree, but I like the old maxim “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.”

One last horrendous fun fact to wrap this up with – people have anal glands too.  I know.  I was looking to see how many unfortunate creatures are cursed with these anatomical oversights, and we turned up on the list.  It seems their carrying capacity is less so than other mammals, but apparently they’re there.  And I’m mortified.

Ew, Anal Glands | Boulder Vet Clinic | Boulder vet hospital |  Rise Vet is Boulder’s new breed of veterinary care located in downtown Boulder.  Call us today to make an appointment for your pet.  We are located in the Ideal Market Plaza, right next to Sweet Cow Ice cream and are excited to open our doors to you and your pets.  We serve pet lovers in Boulder, Longmont, Louisville, Superior and surrounding Boulder County.