Common Health Problems affecting Dogs and Cats

Veterinary advice from John Burns BVMS MRCVS

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Anal Glands

These are two glands located one or either side of the anus. They usually contain a foul-smelling matter which is expelled at urination and/or defaecation and which acts as a territory marker. A secondary function of these glands is to act as the body's dustbins in that they are a means of collecting and discharging waste matter from the system.

Many dogs have problems with the anal glands - they cause discomfort which causes the dog to rub its rear-end on the ground or floor ("tobogganing or scooting").

The usual management involves manual expression of the contents of the glands which usually has to be done by a veterinary surgeon. Sometimes these glands may even develop an abscess which may burst discharging blood and pus. The German Shepherd breed seems to be prone to develop a condition called anal furunculosis which is a chronic inflammation and infection of the glands and surrounding area.

Some veterinary surgeons recommend the removal of troublesome anal glands, but removing the anal glands surgically is akin to a household doing away with its dustbins and keeping the household rubbish under the bed!

Anal gland problems are usually blamed on lack of roughage (fibre) in the diet but in fact the problem tends to be seen most in dogs fed on indigestible foods which produce bulky faeces anyway.

In fact, if the anal glands fill up and cause trouble it is possibly due to low-quality diets which create an excess of waste matter in the system. It is also possible that anal gland disorder can be due to dietary intolerance.



Common pet health problems
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