Dogs, like skunks, have scent glands positioned at 5 and 7 o’clock in relation to their anus. Unlike skunks, a dog cannot manually express their owner glands. Normally the glandular secretion (the stinky stuff) should passively empty onto the feces as they defecate. This does not always happen due to a combination of potential contributors and can result in impacted anal glands. Potential reasons for impacted anal glands include: food allergies, chronic diarrhea, anatomy, inflammation and/or infection.
When the anal glands are full this can create an uncomfortable feeling and dog with often attempt
to lick and/or scoot their rear end. To help alleviate this discomfort the glands can be manually expressed with light digital pressure.
My general rule is that if we have to express the anal glands on a regular basis then we are missing the predisposing cause. Possibly do a food trial. Figure out why the dog has loose stools. Treat active infection and/or inflammation.
Impacted anal glands can often lead to an abscess which is more severe. This occurs when the glands don’t express naturally and bacteria is trapped in the gland. Like all abscesses this is painful and will often swell due to the inflammation. These typically present with a large red swelling near the anus or if they have ruptured there will be a draining tract with purulent (pus) material.
In extreme cases or to prevent future recurring issues the anal glands can be surgically removed.