Of all the common problems dogs may experience in their lifetimes, an infection of the anal glands will be one of the most uncomfortable for them, and unpleasant for you. Although the anal glands produce a foul-smelling substance unique to each and every dog, the amount expressed daily is so minimal that humans cannot smell it. However, if you start seeing odd behaviour or smelling something very foul from your dog's back end, an infection may be present and will require a visit to your veterinarian.
The anal glands are located on either side of the rectal opening and tend to express themselves naturally from the pressure during defecation. If for some reason the glands are being expressed insufficiently, bacteria will build and the glands will become infected. If the infection is left untreated, an abscess will form and may rupture, causing serious health problems for your pet.
When a dog is having problems with its anal glands, you may see him scoot his backside around on the floor or lick or chew around his rectum. Sometimes the dog will exhibit distressed behaviour and you will smell a particularly foul odour coming from the area, or from small puddles on your floor.
The main cause of infected anal glands is linked to the quality of food your dog is consuming. The lesser-quality brands use a lot of filler, which can make the dog's stool too soft to provide adequate pressure on the anal glands. Some dogs will take care of the problem themselves by applying the pressure needed on the ground, while others require manual expressions to eliminate the accumulation of bacteria in the glands.
If your dog cannot express the gland himself, a veterinarian can provide relief. The procedure can also be done at home if you'd rather save the money and time and perform the simple task yourself. After placing a towel over the dog's rectum, firmly press the areas located at 5 and 7 o'clock on either side of the opening. Gentle pressure should express the impacted fluid. If the dog's infection has progressed into an abscess, antibiotics may be required to kill the bacteria.
Most issues can be prevented by ensuring your dog has a high-fibre diet, which will make his stool more bulky to provide enough pressure. Some dogs may need frequent expressing; however, those with chronic anal gland issues can have the sacs removed to avoid further complications.