Anal (rear end) Irritation

Impacted anal glands make a dog scoot and/or lick his/her rear end. Relief is simple but important.



I have a daschund (wienie dog, female) about 7 years old. She seems to be trying to scratch here anus, and unfortunately see can’t seem to reach. She’s a tad over weight. She even drags or circles on the floor in a futile attempt to scratch. I do not find the usual suspects of fleas or ticks. I don’t see any signs of worms. I have sprayed her for fleas. None of this seems to help. Even baths do not seem to help. I have another dog of the same breed that does not have the same problem.



Dr. Nichol:

Daschund and wienie dog seem to be interchangeable terms for the same breed. Some people call them call Datsuns. But they came from Germany. How confusing. So you have an overweight wienie dog with itchy buns, no fleas, no worms, other wienie dog OK. Her problem is her anal glands, one of the most common maladies we treat.


So what the heck is an anal gland? Anal glands are thoroughly useless structures that lie beneath the skin on either side of the anus in the 4 o’clock and 8 o’clock positions. They are an evolutionary vestige of the scent glands of the skunk. While all dogs and cats have them the impactions and infections that cause the licking and dragging are seen mostly in small breed overweight dogs like your wienie who can’t reach her buns. What she needs is to be taken to her veterinarian to have her anal glands expressed (emptied). If the doctor suspects infection, ointment will be infused into the glands and antibiotics may given. To prevent more rear end distress in the future ask the doctor for healthier feeding recommendations like prescription diet r/d to get her to lose weight. A slimmer figure will also help reduce her risk of disc disease in her neck and back.


Lastly, it is no surprise that your other wienie dog is free of this problem. It is caused by neither worms nor by other parasites like fleas or ticks. Anal gland problems are not contagious. But take both wienie dogs to the doctor for routine maintenance. Better to be safe than itchy.






I am very concerned about my one-year-old female Chihuahua. Lately, she has been very preoccupied with licking her backside, and gets extremely upset (snaps, growls, cries) when someone tries to touch that area. Also, she has not refrained from doing her business in any way. It just breaks my heart to see her this way.


Dr. Nichol:

I understand that grouchy Chihuahua thing. Every now and then I get a real pain too. Rear end trouble in dogs is almost always a result of anal gland problems. These nasty little sacks sit beneath the skin on each side of the anus. Normally, the foul liquid they secrete leaks out in small amounts when a pet defecates.


That pain in the rear starts when the normal flow gets stopped up. This makes a dog cranky. They lick or scoot and maybe snap or growl when people try to fuss with their private equipment. And I’m sure you would too.


Take that little nipper to see the veterinarian. Expressing (squeezing) her anal glands will force the fluid out and make your girl feel like herself again. If the glands are infected, the doctor will infuse an ointment and start her on antibiotics. Don’t delay. Anal gland trouble can get much worse. A truly useless bit of anatomy, they can be surgically removed if this girl has repeated trouble with her derriere.





More on Anal Glands


I have a 14-month-old soft coated wheaten terrier named Sobe. Over the past two months she has begun to express her anal glands quite frequently. My vet told me that it is normal and nothing to be concerned with. How often should I have her anal gland professionally expressed?


Dr. Nichol:

Anal glands are standard equipment on all dogs and cats. They are vile and disgusting and, fortunately, keep a low profile on the rear ends of most pets. Skunks, on the other hand, are quite proud of theirs.


There is one anal gland on either side of the anus. Normally they should discharge very small amounts often. But the outflow ducts can get plugged, which may lead to infection and a pain in the rear. Regardless of how they behave, anal glands serve no useful function. If Sobe’s become repeat offenders they can be surgically removed.


You can have those nasty glands professionally expressed (emptied) any time you notice Sobe scooting (dragging her rear end) or licking. A skilled staff member at your veterinarian’s office can teach you how to do it at home. The push-squeeze-pull technique is easy to master. The professionals’ only trade secrets are to wear a latex glove and never stand in the line of fire.





More Anal Glands


My Shih-Tzu startles himself. He will be laying and all at once he will jump and run like something really scared him. I’m worried, it seems like he can’t get settled. Even if he is beside me on the couch, he will jump off and look at me like “what happened?”


Dr. Nichol:

Your Shih-Tzu’s sudden jumping could be caused by any number of itches or twinges but I’m betting on his anal glands. Recently I’ve noticed a lot of people with that “what happened?” look about them but, lucky for us, we missed out on this anatomic accessory.


Anal glands are nasty little fluid producing sacs on each side of the anus-standard equipment on all dogs and cats. To relieve the itch many afflicted dogs scoot on their rear ends; others may reach around and lick. It’s never appropriate in polite company. Your good little dog jumps and tries to outrun his anal glands.


Take your Shih-Tzu to your veterinarian for some rear end maintenance. Worst case, his anal glands may be infected. Medical care should be routine, followed by a happy ending.