Anal glands in dogs

Anal glands in dogs

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Anal glands in dogs

Anal glands in dogs are structures in the anal canal.


The anal glands are lined by stratified squamous epithelium. The epithelium is very thin (only 0.3mm) and has long, slender rete pegs that penetrate deep into the epithelium. The mucosa is not continuous along the entire length of the anal glands. The submucosa is of loose connective tissue and consists of the anal glands, and blood vessels and nerves. The submucosa contains lymph nodes and connective tissue.

There are 2 glands on each side of the anal canal, on either side of the anal sphincter and at the ischiatic tubercle. The glands are about 2–4 ,mm long. Their lumen is approximately 200-300 ,μm wide, with glands on the posterior surface of the anal canal having a greater lumen size than those on the anterior surface. The glands open by way of small ducts at the ischiatic tubercle. The mucosa is continuous along the length of the gland, with some areas that are more papillary than others. The most posterior part of the anal glands have a much smaller lumen than the rest.


The function of the anal glands is poorly understood. The main postulation is that they secrete mucus that keeps the anal canal moist and acts as lubrication, facilitating the passage of feces. They also secrete substances that are believed to help maintain healthy epithelium and provide a barrier to bacteria.

Additional functions of the glands include:


defense against pathogenic bacteria

immunological protection against certain viruses

Infectious anal gland disease

Infectious gland disease is a condition in which the normal flora and/or parasites within the anal glands can become pathogenic. In some cases, the presence of these organisms can lead to a secondary infection and/or inflammation of the surrounding tissue. Common causative agents of infectious gland disease include:

Clostridium sp.


Eimeria sp.

Toxoplasma gondii

Cryptosporidium sp.

Fusobacterium sp.

Actinomyces sp.

Leptospira sp.

Tritrichomonas sp.


Treatment is generally not necessary unless there are complications, as infectious gland disease is a generally self-limiting condition. Symptoms may include:




If a dog develops diarrhea and signs of dehydration, the first thing to be done is to correct the underlying cause. The condition is often seen in large breed dogs in the absence of a defined diet (for example, puppies fed solely on milk) or in cases where the diet is not well balanced. It can also occur when dogs eat too many carbohydrates (such as soft biscuits, table scraps, or raw vegetables) at a time. It is a common condition in young puppies and kittens.

Secondary infections of the anal glands in this case are the result of a poorly balanced diet or inadequate diet leading to decreased immune function. Antibiotic therapy is usually indicated to control any secondary infections. The dose will be based on the patient's condition and is usually between 5-10 days. It is important to note that these drugs are often used as a preventative measure to prevent secondary infections of the anal glands.


Infectious gland disease is usually self-limiting. The symptoms usually resolve after a few days, but in some cases they can persist for weeks or months. Dogs that do not respond to antibiotic therapy may benefit from a probiotic regimen to help support the healthy flora of the intestinal tract. The use of antidiarrheal medications, although not specifically recommended, may aid in the recovery of affected dogs.


The pathophysiology of infectious gland disease is not well known. Some evidence suggests that it is a result of an overgrowth of pathogens in the glands. In dogs, Coccidia, Cryptosporidium, and Toxoplasma gondii are some of the most commonly encountered parasites of the glands. These organisms often lead to secondary infections and the development of abscesses in the surrounding tissue. The secondary infections lead to inflammation, which is likely responsible for the symptoms of infection, and the development of abscesses.

It has also been suggested that the infection may be associated with increased intestinal permeability, which could result in leakage of bacteria and toxins into the surrounding tissue. This would result in secondary infections. A decrease in the normal flora of the intestinal tract may also play a role in the infection.


Category:Dog anatomy

Category:Animal anatomy

Category:Veterinary procedures

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