Anal glands! Eeew.
At one point in the evolution of domestic dogs and cats these were the little stink flags that marked an animal’s territory. They had a function. Today, they are the source of our pets’ fascination with sniffing each others butts and the sole reason they insist on long disgusting pauses during a walk, to get a snoot full of another animal’s droppings. It’s not the poo; it’s the scent of the anal glands.
I’m told each animal has a distinct “aroma” that identifies them as the individual they are. When they greet each other with a sniff, it’s like a handshake to the face. Thankfully people have evolved such that we recognize someone’s face and greet them with “hello”. Imagine the horror of long, lingering anal gland greetings if we walked into a wedding reception with one to two hundred people; we would never make it to the open bar.
To veterinarians at Animal Medical Center of Mt. Pleasant (and our technicians) anal glands are all similarly horrible to the nose.
Anal glands are located under the tail and just inside the cat/dog’s rectum. If the butt were a clock, anals would sit at four and seven. A healthy, firm bowel movement usually puts enough pressure on them so they are expressed naturally into the yard. Hence, animal’s feces become their business card.
Inadvertent expressing of the glands can occur if something causes an animal to “tense-up”. If the room goes from fragrant to “Seattle fish market” in the time it takes for someone to knock on the door… your room has been anal-ed!
Diet, a slight alteration in the glands anatomical location or clogged duct work can sometimes prevent this greeting sludge from making its way out of the body and that is where the trouble begins.
As the glands fill, the pressure become such that discomfort sets in and we may begin to see unusual behavior. My favorite: the dog scooting across the carpet leaving a beautiful skid mark and a cloud of Febreze proof stink. Licking or chewing themselves raw is quite an attractive scene too when you’re entertaining the boss for dinner.
The dogs that exhibit these chronic issues are the ones we see often, sometimes once weekly, to manually express the glands. This we usually leave up to the techs because … well, because they have girly fingers. Trust me, if it were up to the dog, he would not choose ol’ Dr. Flintstone Fingers for the task.
The worst anal glands go beyond impacted, they become abscessed. This is a painful condition for the dog and a gross proposition for you when the Doctor explains what your function will be for the next 7 days at home. You will become more familiar with the back end of your dog than are with your kids.
So, if you seem to spend more at your Vet dealing with your dog’s anal glands than you do at the office, it’s time you knew that they can be surgically removed!
Picture above: Rocky resting easy at home after his anal gland surgery!
With the new laser capabilities at a state of the art Veterinary practice like ours, the complication rate is extremely low. Cody and Rocky are excellent examples. Both are so tickled that the days of Veterinary invasion of their butts are over. We heard they have also begun to enjoy just giving their closest friends a wave of the paw when they greet them and wash their faces less often.
Only their parents could be happier.
Glad we could discuss anal glands, good talk. I’m so embarrassed.
The picture above is of Cody Maurer after his Anal Gland Surgery at Animal Medical Center of Mt. Pleasant. Thank you to The Maurer Family and the Hudson Family!