It's something some dogs seem to be prone to. But why? Tony Buckwell explains ...

Q: My dog drags 
its rear end along the ground frequently. I am told this is a sign that he needs his anal glands emptied by a vet. Why is this 
a recurring problem for him when other dogs don’t seem 
to suffer to the same extent?


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A: We’ve all seen a dog drag its bottom at some point. The anal glands are small oval-shaped sacs found on 
each side of a dog’s rectum just inside the anus. Each time a dog passes a stool it voids a small amount of foul-smelling serous or pasty liquid, secreted by these glands, 
that coats the stool and is believed 
to play some part in territorial scent-marking behaviour.

If, however, the dog’s stools are soft or small, the sacs may not empty completely and if this continues they fill up and become uncomfortable for the dog. Dogs will try to relieve this discomfort by licking or biting their rear end or dragging their bottom along the floor (“scooting”). If left untreated the anal sacs (glands) can then become impacted or even infected.

Some dogs have particular problems and require their anal glands to be emptied frequently. If this is the case with your dog — and it sounds like it is — check the consistency of your dog’s faeces. If he isn’t generally passing large, firm stools you may have to modify his diet accordingly. Try adding bran in the first instance. Add a couple of teaspoonfuls to the feed each day initially and increase a little as necessary to “bulk up” the stools. If your dog is overweight, reducing that weight can also help.

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With a little practice and patience you can empty your dog’s anal sacs yourself, but the smell of anal gland fluid is so unpleasant that most people prefer to take their dog to the vet for this procedure. If the situation cannot be easily ameliorated and becomes difficult to control and problematic for your dog, your vet might recommend permanent removal of the anal glands and the associated anal sacs.