Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Question: Dog constantly wants to lick hind end?

Dear Dr. Schaeberle,

Why does my dog constantly want to lick his hind end area and scoot on the carpet?




The most common cause of this problem is a condition we call impacted anal glands. I have elected to write about anal glands both today and next week. In this first article I would like to talk first about the anal gland’s function.

I read a great article years ago in Time magazine that best illustrates the anal gland’s function. The United States Park service wanted to strengthen the wolf population and naively released some wolves thinking they would be welcomed into an established pack. Apparently they were not welcomed as the wolves smelled the scent around the rear end (that scent is produced by two glands that sit just inside the anus), and decided they were not pack members. The pack of wolves then ran off these strange new visitors. You see, they don’t have names like Doug or Tom but rather each gland around the anus produces a distinct odor that can identify that Wolf. Just like wolves, dogs smell each other’s hind ends to identify that dog with a scent.

Dog’s sense of smell is very advanced. When you think about how an Airport Security Narcotics Dog can pinpoint the smell of illegal drugs in a suitcase in the middle of an airport that contains many different smells, it is simply amazing. So their ability to distinguish scents is literally hundreds of times greater than a human being.

Anal gland problems can be treated in a variety of ways, although sometimes surgery is needed in chronic cases. I will go over the cause and treatment of anal gland disease in next week’s issue of the Weekly Record.

Shiloh Veterinary Hospitals in Dover and Manchester, are proudly certified by the American Animal Hospital Association. Joining the Patton Veterinary Hospital in Red Lion, the only other hospital certified in the York area.

Learn more at our website, www.myshilohvet.com. Go to Resources, click on Pet Health and search on anal glands.

Learn more at our website, www.myshilohvet.com.

Thomas Schaeberle, V.M.D.

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