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Published: Jan 07, 2013

Have you ever caught your dog dragging her butt across your carpet? This behavior, known as "scooting," may seem funny at first, but it can actually be a sign of a serious pet health issue that may require medical treatment. Scooting may indicate that your pet is experiencing anal gland problems in dogs.

What are anal glands?
Anal glands, often referred to as anal sacs, are two small pouches on the either side of your dog's anus. They're lined with sebaceous, or sweat glands, which contain an odor that likely does not smell good to your human nose. For dogs, however, these glands secrete an odor that acts as a "calling card," reports VCA Animal hospitals. The oil from the glands is squeezed out when a dog defecates, which may help explain why your dog enjoys sniffing droppings of other canines while out on walks.

Understanding anal sac disease
Anal sac disease is a common illness among dogs, VCA reports. It occurs when the ducts in the anal glands become inflamed, causing them to become impacted. This can lead to pain in dogs when the animal has to pass feces. Scooting is the first clinical sign of anal sac disease, and if you witness unexplained dog aggression when you touch your pet's tail or rear end, then there's a chance she is suffering from this problem. Additionally, you should call your vet if you see any blood or pus exuding from your animal's rectum.

Treating the illness
According to VCA, anal sac disease can happen to dogs of any size or breed. Fortunately it can be treated by expressing (or squeezing out) the sacs. If the glands have become severely infected or impacted, they may have to be "flushed out." Your vet might prescribe your dog with a sedative or anesthetic to keep her calm and reduce her pain during this experience.

In extreme cases, removal of the sacs may be necessary. Though this is a serious and specialized surgery, it should not adversely affect the health of a domesticated canine. Your pet may have loose stool following this surgery, though this will only last for one to three weeks. Some dogs, particularly those who are obese, are likely to experience anal sac disease more than once.