Not many people like to discuss the subject of anal glands. Embarrassment? Perhaps. The “eww factor?” Maybe. But in the canine world, keeping tabs on the anal glands is just as important as brushing their teeth and clipping their nails.
Recently, in our Husky homestead, two of our Sibes have been afflicted with anal sac issues. A few months back, Harley (our Alpha queen and surrogate mom) was constantly chewing at her backside, alerting us that something was not quite right. When we did a complete exam, she was very, very touchy when we came to her rump. A trip to our vet verified that she had impacted anal sacs, which were then expressed, eliminating a thick black tar-like substance, and she was instantly fine.
Most recently, Gibson (Harley’s honey and the big brother of the pack) has had a case of “limp tail.” His crazy, frizzy, furry waterfall of a tail simply has been hanging limply at his backside. He has been way more sedentary than usual, with no desire to get up much. When checking him over, he became quite vocal about a specific area by his tail. I thought I felt a swollen spot, but as with most Sibes, they have those notable fuzzy butts, that you can’t always be sure of what you are feeling. Now my boy is truly an angel and never, ever complains, so when he cried, I knew something was definitely up and that he was hurting.
A call to our (fabulous, amazing, wonderful) veterinarian office, and he was immediately placed on anti-inflammatory meds with a follow-up appointment for Xrays. In the few days in between, his back legs became weak, and he slipped down the stairs (one time, he voluntarily sat and slid himself down the last two steps). All cause for concern. Now while I did initially massage his anal gland areas, I didn’t really think limp tail would be related to infected anal glands as it wasn’t the typical symptom (like scooting, chewing, etc.). After his vet visit, it is looking like that is exactly what my boy has. When they tried to express his gland (that is the size of a golf ball), it did not cooperate. As a result, he has been tested to rule out a tumor (and thankfully, it is not one), and he is home being treated with antibiotics, anti-inflams, and warm compresses. Hopefully, by next week’s visit, there will be improvement so he won’t warrant surgery. He is being an extremely good patient and permits me to apply the warm compresses with no complaints, and I have been receiving lots of appreciative kisses, so I know he knows we’re trying to help him.
The message here is we all know our dogs. When something doesn’t seem right, it probably isn’t. While most cases of clogged anal glands are easily remedied, sometimes it is not that simple. For your dog’s good health, it goes without saying that periodically checking your canine’s personal area should not be embarrassing and most definitely not overlooked.