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Everything You Never Wanted to Know About Anal Glands

Anal Glands are gross, but every dog and cat has ’em

Today, we’re going to get all up in your cat or dog’s business. I’m sorry, but it’s gotta be done.

So, dogs and cats have scent glands on either side of the anus, the same ones that skunks use to spray nasty-smelling stuff on predators, just slightly (and only slightly) less gross.

Here is a picture of where they’re located (the red circles indicate approximate location):

Anal Glands

These glands produce foul-smelling brownish-yellowish fishy-smelling grossness that gets squeezed out every time your dog or cat strains to poop. We think it’s a marking mechanism, perhaps a way dogs and cats identify themselves to each other.

Each anal gland has a tiny little duct that empties it at the anal opening. These ducts can become obstructed, leaving the gland unable to empty itself, causing the pet discomfort. Your dog or cat may then plant her butt on the ground and “scoot” across the floor in an attempt to relieve the obstruction.

Contrary to popular belief, if you smell your pet’s fishy-smelling nasty on the couch, your pet may NOT need to see the vet. If the anal glands have emptied themselves on your furniture, believe it or not, that’s a problem solved.

Any time the anal glands CAN’T empty themselves, is when you should call the vet. If Fido is scooting and/or licking and/or scratching and/or suddenly turning around and looking at her butt all the time, to the vet she goes! If the anal glands become clogged and impacted full of thick goo, your veterinarian can slip on a rubber glove and stick a finger up their butt to squeeze out the anal glands. Some dogs need to have this done monthly, some need it done never. Some groomers will do a “from the outside” version of emptying the anal glands as part of their routine groom, but this is not an appropriate treatment for problem glands, only good for maintenance.

Anal Gland Impaction

If the glands stay impacted for a long time, they can become infected and abscess out the back the end. This dog’s abscessed anal gland is about to rupture:

anal gland abscess glands sac sacs

Anal Gland Abscess

When the abscess ruptures, it can look like this:

ruptured anal gland abscess

Ouchy! To the vet you go!

Scooting means anal glands might need veterinary attention

Just so I can show the best commercial ever, from Stanley Steemer, here for your viewing pleasure is Toby’s New Trick:

Toby's New Trick


Does your cat or dog have butt problems? Call Leo’s! 317-721-7387

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