Dog: Infected Anal Glands

General information

Other common/scientific names: anal gland abscess

The anal glands are two sac-like structures located near the anus which produce secretions used for scent and territory marking. Normally, these secretions are watery to pasty, brownish gray in color and very pungent or smelly. These glands empty through two openings located just inside the anus at the 4 o’clock and 8 o’clock position. Anal glands are typically emptied during defecation, territory marking or when the animal is frightened.


Anal glands can become impacted or f ull of the pasty secretions. This may be due to insufficient pressure on the sacs during defecation because of small, soft stools; blockage of the openings of the sacs or because the secretions are too thick. Impacted glands are very common in small breeds. When the sacs are impacted, they are more prone to an infection. This infection is caused when bacteria enter the glands through the opening. An anal gland abscess may develop if the infection worsens. Anal gland abscesses can rupture through the skin causing a draining hole near the anus.

Cardinal symptom



Dogs with an anal gland impaction, infection or abscess will scoot or drag their rear end across the floor. These dogs will also lick and bite at their rear ends. The glands are swollen and enlarged. Infected glands are more painful and contain yellow or blood-tinged secretions. An anal gland abscess is usually on one side with the skin over the abscess becoming red or deep purple. Pus may drain from the abscess.

Abb. GG4STX5F: Anal Gland Infection.
This is a photograph of an anal gland infection. The arrows are pointing to the red, swollen skin covering the infected gland.


Diagnosis of an infection is made from an examination of the anal glands.


Impacted and infected anal glands are treated by expressing or emptying the contents of the anal sacs. This is performed by manually applying pressure to the glands and pushing upwards. With some dogs, a gloved finger may need to be inserted into the rectum to apply sufficient pressure. Severe infections may need an antibiotic instilled into the anal sac. Anal gland abscesses should be lanced if not draining and then flushed with a disinfectant. Dogs with abscesses are treated with an oral antibiotic for 10 to 14 days.

Surgical removal is recommended for dogs with chronic anal sac infections or abscesses. This procedure is called an anal sacculectomy.

Abb. GG4SXR20
Abb. GG4SXR20: Treatment of an infected anal gland.
This is a photograph of an antibiotic being instilled into an anal gland with a specialized cannula.


Dogs with an anal gland infection or abscess usually respond well to treatment. Chronic infections can cause scarring and fecal incontinence but this is rare.


Anal gland impactions, infections and abscesses can be prevented by frequent expressing of the anal sac contents. Some dogs will require this procedure every 2 to 4 weeks.


Dogs with chronic gland impactions may benefit from a high fiber diet or a fiber supplement. This can add bulk to the stools, thereby increasing the pressure on the anal glands to facilitate drainage during a bowel movement.

Update version: 4/24/2014, © Copyright by
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