Originally Written for Pug Partners of Nebraska - Please visit their website to find out how you can help Pugs!
All dogs and cats have anal glands. They are small (peanut to grape-sized) sacs near their bottoms, at about 4 o’clock and 8 o’clock, if their butts were clocks.
The purpose of anal glands is probably to mark territory. The anal glands secrete a small amount of thick liquid when an animal defecates. If the opening of the anal glands always stays patent and the glands empty completely when the animal defecates, and the anal glands never become infected, you may never notice anal glands at all.
Pugs have a conformation that sometimes lends itself to incomplete expression of the anal glands, and thus they are more prone to anal gland problems than some other dogs.
When the anal glands do not empty completely, they can become enlarged. At this point, manual expression completely treats the problem. If this is not done, the glands can become uncomfortable. At this stage, you may notice your pet licking or scooting. Manual expression is still completely curative.
If the glands are not expressed, they may become infected. At this point, manual expression is still helpful, but the glands may need to be flushed, and your Pug may need antibiotics. And finally, chronically infected anal glands may rupture. This is a painful condition that needs to be treated right away. In severe or very painful cases, sedation or anesthesia may be needed to treat the gland completely.
In some cases, anal glands may be surgically removed. It may be necessary to consult a surgical specialist. When the entire gland is removed, obviously, no further trouble will be had with anal glands. However, possible complications of surgery include pain, infection and temporary or permanent fecal incontinence.
There may be a link between allergies in dogs and anal gland problems. We are not sure if allergic dogs, being itchy, are more bothered by swollen glands, or if the opening of their anal glands becomes inflamed with the rest of their skin and then occluded, or if there is some other link. If your pet has chronic anal gland problems, be sure to note any skin or ear issues also, all of which may be linked to allergies.
Your Pug’s veterinarian will teach you to express anal glands if you would like. It is a technically simple procedure. However, of the many people I have taught the procedure, every single one of them has come back and had me express their pet’s anal glands after one try. The grossness factor just makes it worth the money spent!
Have your Pug’s anal glands checked every three to six months. After a few check-ups, base the frequency of anal gland expression on your veterinarian’s recommendation. May you never have to deal with anal glands whatsoever, except for perhaps the occasional anal gland expression.
Stephanie Alford’s Typhoon