Every dog has 2 anal glands/sacs (1 gland on each side of the anus). These glands are occasionally refereed to as "scent glands", because they enable the dog to mark its territory and to identify each other. We have all seen how dogs greet each other by sniffing at the other's rear.
The anal sacs are normally expressed (emptied) by rectal pressure during defecation. The secretion from the anal glands is a brownish liquid, although is can become thick, yellowish or creamy looking. The anal sacs can also be emptied by contraction of the anal sphincter. This involuntary contraction can be due to the dog being upset, frightened or under pressure, or the contractions can be triggered by the dog to leave its mark upon territory. Constricting the anal sphincter not only marks the territory, it permeates the dog with that characteristic "doggy" odor.
Impaction of the Anal Glands
When the anal glands fail to empty normally, the result can be impaction. Impaction is most common in small dog breeds, but can occur in any dog. Among the causes of anal gland impaction are : soft stools, small anal gland openings and overactive anal glands. The anal gland secretions become thick and pasty. Anal gland impaction is treated by manual emptying of the glands.
Emptying the Anal Glands Prepare a warm moist wash cloth or towel and locate the anal glands. The glands should be at approximately 5 o'clock and seven o'clock positions in relation to the anal circumference. you will feels the glands as small firm nodules in the perianal area. Place the cloth over the area. Position your thumb on one gland and index finger on the opposite gland. By pressing in and squeezing your fingers toward each other the glands should empty. Wipe the area clean with the cloth. Repeat if necessary. If the discharge is bloody or purulent in appearance there is probably an anal gland infection - treat as described below.
Infected Anal Glands
This condition is recognized by the presence of blood or pus in the anal gland secretions. The dog may also exhibit discomfort when the glands are emptying or do a great deal of scooting. Treatment : empty the glands as described above. Once the gland are empty and the area cleansed, fill the gland with antibiotic ointment by placing the tip of the tube into the duct opening to the anal gland and squeeze the tube to fill the gland. Repeat this process every two days until the anal gland secretions are no longer showing signs of blood or pus. The dog should also be receiving oral antibiotics such as chloromycetin or tetracycline during this time. Or you may want to simply go see the vet, but usually a antibiotic cream inserted into teh sacs every few days will resolve the issue within a week.