Learn how and why dogs anal glands become impacted and infected, what signs to look for and, should your Cocker Spaniel develop impacted anal glands, how to express them.
Dogs anal glands (also known as dog anal sacs) are two small scent glands just inside your pet's bottom, just below and to either side of the anal opening.
These scent glands produce a foul smelling substance which is used to mark a dog's territory, but it can also communicate to other dogs.
That's why dog's gather and participate in this rather endearing social ritual - but sniffing! They're gathering information about each other, and although we may find it particularly disgusting and highly impolite, dogs don't!
Just by sniffing, your Cocker will be able to tell what sex the owner of the scent is, approximate age, how long ago they passed by, etc. Pretty powerful stuff - eh?
So, the next time you see your Spaniel sniffing another dog's butt, or pile of dog poop, you'll understand he's simply collecting his mail!
Each time your dog passes a normal healthy stool, slight pressure is placed on the anal glands resulting in a small secretion of this foul smelling substance being expelled onto the dog's poop.
This action is usually enough to empty the dogs anal glands naturally and unaided.
However, if your pet's poop is too soft, or he regularly has diahorrea, there won't be any pressure to help expel the substance from your dog's anal sacs.
When this happens, a build-up can occur and, if not expressed, this build-up can thicken and block the anal duct, causing impacted anal glands.
This in turn, could lead to infection and extremely painful abscesses.
Learn how to clear your Cocker's anal glands here.
If your Cocker suffers from regular bouts of diarrhoea, you'd be well-advised to take a trip to the vets to have him checked over.
So you want to know how to tell if your Cocker's anal glands are impacted?
Have you ever seen a dog dragging his bottom across the floor, or licking his bottom? (More than usual? I hear you say!).
If you have, you've probably witnessed one of the symptoms of impacted anal glands.
In addition to this very unusual floor display, you will probably notice a foul and distinctive smell that accompanies impacted anal glands.
If you notice the any of the above signs, or your dog is smelling particularly rank, it would be wise to check him immediately for signs of impacted anal glands (see below).
If the area around the gland is slightly swollen and pink it may be an early sign of impaction and if you feel them, the glands will feel hard, like two small marbles.
If dog anal glands become impacted, they must be cleaned immediately, which means they need to be expressed in order to empty them.
If you're not squeamish you could do this yourself, but if you prefer, your groomer or your vet could do it for you.
impacted glands won't affect the overall health of your Cocker
Spaniel, as long as they don't become infected, your dog could easily
injure himself when dragging his bottom over the ground so it's best to keep them clean and clear.
If your dogs anal glands do become infected, and he develops an abscess, his bottom will become very swollen, a reddish-purple in colour, and pus will have developed in the glands.
If it gets to this stage, it's likely that your dog will be in quite considerable pain.
It will become fairly difficult for him to walk normally, and he may begin to walk with his body 'hunched', (bottom tucked in and under) and he will continue to scrape his bottom along the ground in a bid for relief.
Your Cocker Spaniel will also lick himself profusely to try and relieve the pain and discomfort.
If you do find your pet in this state, I recommend you take him to your vet immediately. He'll probably lance the abscess and he may also prescribe a course of antibiotics for him to help clear up infection.
If your pet has an occasional problem with impacted anal glands, it can be dealt with as and when it occurs.
Your vet may suggest a diet with increased fibre content to help bulk up your dog's poop, which will place more pressure on his glands, allowing them to express themselves unaided.
However, if your Cocker regularly suffers from impacted anal glands, your vet may eventually recommend surgical removal.
This is a fairly straightforward operation which will eliminate the problem of impacted anal glands for life.
I hope the information given here has been helpful, and that you now have a better insight into the problem.
Please note however, the advice given is never intended to replace that of your vet's, and if you have any concerns about your dog's health I strongly recommend you speak to your vet.
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