Dear Dr. Schaeberle,
Why does my dog constantly want to lick his hind end area and scoot on the carpet?
As mentioned in last week’s article, anal glands are two glands that sit just inside the anus that produce a scent unique to the individual dog or cat. So what is the cause of anal gland disease? A study years ago revealed, that dogs who had their anal glands emptied frequently either by a veterinarian or a trained groomer, were more likely to develop chronic anal gland disease. As a result, I do not recommend routinely expressing anal glands. Anal gland disease can also be triggered by skin allergies, and many pets have problems for no discernable reason.
What are the signs of anal gland disease? The classical signs are scooting, licking or an offensive odor. Anal glands can get impacted or infected.
How is anal gland disease treated?
For a dog who is scooting or a cat excessively licking the hind end, we simply empty the glands. If we are suspicious of infection we look at the material from the glands under a microscope. If we notice a large amount of bacteria and/or white blood cells we may elect to pack the anal glands with an antibiotic treatment or prescribe medication.
Infections can be very painful and may result in an abscess. Pets with an abscess are usually sedated, the infected area is opened and then drained.
With chronic disease, I like to partner with the owner to decide if it is time to surgically remove the anal glands. The surgery is typically very successful, with minimal complications.
In York County, only 3 hospitals are certified by the American Animal Hospital Association: Shiloh Veterinary Hospital in Dover, Shiloh Veterinary Hospital East and Patton Veterinary Hospital in Red Lion. AAHA has approximately 3,000 hospitals that voluntarily participate in the evaluation program.
Learn more at our website, www.myshilohvet.com. Go to Resources, click on Pet Health and search on anal glands.
Thomas Schaeberle, V.M.D.