So many dog owners know the embarrassment of having their dog scrape its bottom along the ground in front of visitors. My own dog, Marvin, seems to consider this his favourite party trick. Many people incorrectly think their dog has worms, but in most cases, it’s actually the dog’s anal glands causing the problem.
The anal glands (also called perianal glands or anal sacs) are little scent glands located at around the 4 o’clock and 8 o’clock positions around a dog’s anus. There function is mainly territory and scent marking, as well as playing a social role.
When a dog defaecates, some of the contents of the glands is expressed onto the faeces. The contents have a slightly different smell for each dog, so the dog can mark its territory this way. When dogs sniff each other’s bottoms, they’re actually smelling the anal glands. This helps to tell them if they have come across this dogs path before.
For some dogs, the anal glands can cause problems. It may be that they don’t empty properly, get infected, or just irritate the dog. This is when the dog will scoot its bottom on the ground.
In most cases where the anal glands are causing irritation, they simply need emptying. This can be done by one of our qualified vet nurses. The procedure involves inserting a finger into the dog’s anus and squeezing the contents outwards.
Some dogs will have fewer anal gland issues when fed a high fibre diet (fibre increases the bulk of the faeces, which assists in expressing the glands naturally), while other dogs will continue to have problems regardless of diet. Although it doesn’t always work, it’s worth trying increasing dietary fibre using products such as bran and vegetables.