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Anal glands (anal sacs) are scent glands located on each side of your dog’s rectum. They are usually located in the four and eight o'clock positions.
Healthy anal glands excrete (express) fluid when the dog has a bowel movement. This excretion of the glands adds your dog's scent to your his/her stool.
Not all dogs are able to express their anal glands when they defecate. When a dog isn't able to express their glands on their own it causes a build up and thickening of the fluid material in these sacs. You may notice that your dog is licking their behind or scooting on the carpet when their anal sacs become full due to the build up of pressure.
In some serious cases anal glands can become impacted and/or create an abscess. The abscess becomes filled with a pus made of dead bacteria and dead white blood cells. The abscess is very uncomfortable for your dog and can cause issues defecating. If the abscess goes untreated then it can rupture.
If your dog's anal glands rupture, there will be an unsightly hole that drains the bloody substance. It is very important that you don't let your dog lick any of the material that comes out as it can spread the bacteria and cause more serious infections. In most cases your dog will have to undergo a more complicated treatment including antibiotics, surgical repair, and drainage of the area.
You can help reduce the chance of your dogs anal glands getting full by feeding a high fiber diet.