August 28, 2019 Dogs

“Why does my dog scoot?” – How to Identify Anal Gland Disease

A brown lab sits in the grass next to pumpkins

“Why does my dog scoot?” – How to Identify Anal Gland Disease

There are two kinds of dog owners when it comes to anal glands. Those who know what it means when their dog “scoots the boot” across the living room rug and those who are stunned when I turn the exam room wall into a splattergram with fetid, brown material when I express their dog’s impacted anal glands. That is, those who know about their dog’s anal glands and those who don’t!

Anal Gland Location

The anal glands are a pair of little sack-like structures. Their size depends on how full they are and how big your dog is. A toy poodle might have pea sized glands, while a golden retriever might have ones the size of big green grapes. If you think about your dog’s behind as a clock face, the anal glands are at 5 o’clock and 7 o’clock. Click here down for an accurate anatomic diagram.

Anal Gland Function

Many different species of mammals use anal glands for identification, territory marking and protection. When possums “play possum,” they express their anal glands. Hyenas have anal glands like those in the dog — they rub their rear end to mark their territory with anal gland secretions known as “hyena butter.” Although the smell emitted by dog anal glands can knock your socks off, the skunk takes top prize when it comes to smelly anal gland secretions. In domestic dogs, anal glands are more of an annoyance than necessary piece of anatomy.

Anal Gland Disease

Dogs scoot their fanny because their anal glands are uncomfortable. The discomfort comes when the anal glands are too full, are infected or as part of the skin-ear-anal gland allergic dermatitis complex. Why some dogs’ anal glands don’t empty when they defecate is the million-dollar question. Increasing fiber in the diet may help this condition.

Some full anal glands get infected and in severe cases, an abscess develops. These dogs cry in pain and hold their tail down. These clinical signs might also indicate a hot spot on the rump, another sign of allergies. Many veterinarians link allergies and itchiness with anal gland infections. Managing allergies helps to control anal gland disease.

If your dog is scooting their boot, check in with your veterinarian to prevent a severe anal gland problem.