The Likely Source of Reddening and Swelling Near Dog’s Bottoms

Pet Health


November 8, 2021

If your dog has a red bottom, it can be incredibly distressing for you and your dog. You wouldn’t like it if your bottom was red and presumably painful, so you can only imagine how uncomfortable the experience is for your dog.

But what is it that’s happening to your poor dog? What has made their dog bottom red and swollen? What can you do to help your dog?

What Are Impacted Anal Glands?

Unless you know your dog has cut or bruised their backside (in which case the cause of the discoloration really isn’t much of a mystery), the likeliest reason for your dog’s bottom being red and swollen is that it has impacted anal glands. These glands are oval-shaped, are typically on the smaller side, and are located near your dog’s rectum around either side of its anus.

Dogs secret substances from these glands which they use to mark their territory. Dogs’ stools also normally push up against this sac.

However, if this does not happen, the substance secreted for marking territory can become stuck, clogging up the glands. When this happens, your dog can start to experience severe discomfort and can potentially lead to infections.

In addition, this can lead to the swelling and redness alluded to above. All of these factors can in turn make it painful for dogs to pass stool. Unfortunately, that’s just the beginning. This inflammation can lead to sacculitis and bacteria growing on the site. Abscesses can then start to form which, if they burst, can be incredibly painful and leave holes which will require surgery.

Causes of Impacted Anal Glands

As the name would imply, impacted anal glands and the swelling and reddening that can accompany it are due to the glands becoming blocked. There are many potential reasons for this, not the least of which being the sacs themselves becoming inflamed, and thus growing larger and blocking passages that are meant to allow substances to be secreted. This blockage can also occur with stool.

This can also arise from trauma to the glands or your dog’s rectum. Tumors can also cause blockages. Additionally, blockage can occur if your dog starts to become obese, with excess fat blocking the glands. This can start a vicious cycle of obesity causing impacted glands, which in turn can lead to further obesity.

Certain breeds can also be especially prone to impacted anal glands, including:

  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniels
  • Chihuahuas
  • Dachshunds
  • Miniature Poodles
  • Shih Tzus

As you can see, most of these breeds are on the smaller side, so if you have a small dog, you should be on heightened alert for impacted anal glands if your dog experiences some of the symptoms mentioned above.

Symptoms of Impacted Anal Glands

Given those causes and the severe consequences that can result from allowing red, swollen impacted anal glands to fester, it is imperative to diagnose and treat them as soon as possible. Delaying even a small amount of time can lead to severe pain and health issues for your dog.

Some of the biggest signs of impacted anal glands to look out for include:

  • Scooting around on the ground on their rear, aka “butt-walking”
  • Your dog experiencing pain when they pass stool, and straining to do so
  • Foul odor exuding from their rear end
  • Your dog suddenly becoming more obese
  • Chronic diarrhea and/or reddish discharge
  • Increased aggressiveness
  • Your dog licking or biting their rear end and/or suddenly chasing their tail more than usual
  • Abscesses appearing near their rectum

Diagnosing Impacted Anal Glands

When you take your dog to the vet to see if it is suffering from impacted anal glands, your dog will likely be subjected to a rectal exam. Your vet may also ask you if you have noticed any changes in your dog’s behavior or diet lately. They may also examine any secretions your dog has exuded via lab tests.

Through stool analysis, blood work, X-rays, anal swabs, and urinalysis, vets can determine the root cause of your dog’s anal reddening and swelling. They can determine whether the cause is due to physical trauma, electrolyte or hormonal issues, or other chemical abnormalities.

Treatment and Recovery

Once your dog has been diagnosed with impacted anal glands, you’ll need to get your dog treatment as soon as possible. Thankfully, this should be much easier once your vet has determined the root cause of the issue. For example, your vet may manually express and relieve your dog’s anal glands themselves so they can once more secrete substances normally. If the impaction is severe, sedation or saline may be necessary.

Depending on the severity of your dog’s impaction and whether this is the first time it has had this issue or if it is “routine offenders,” your dog may need one or more such treatments. Your vet may also prescribe oral or topical steroids to help curb the inflammation and pain, or antibiotics to help deal with infections. In extreme cases, removing your dog’s anal sacs may be necessary.

After your dog has been treated, it’ll likely need several days before it starts feeling better. How long this takes can depend on the dog’s history, as the severity of the swelling and reddening, and the nature of the treatment itself. A warm compress on the affected area can help soothe swelling and pain after treatments. High fiber diets can also help prevent stool-related impactions in the future.

Potential Cost

How much it costs to treat your dog for impacted anal glands will once again depend greatly on the nature of the impaction and what course of treatment is prescribed. Some medications and surgeries can cost hundreds of dollars. However, if the sacs have to be removed, this price can climb as high as $1,000 to $2,000 depending on the difficulty of the surgery.

It is thus important that you check any dog health insurance policy before signing onto it to see if they provide coverage for situations such as these. This is especially important if you have a dog breed that is especially susceptible to impacted anal glands.

Nobody wants to have to deal with their dogs’ bottoms becoming swollen, red, and foul-smelling. However, it is vital that you not simply turn a blind eye to this situation and hope it will go away on its own. Doing so will only result in things getting worse.

The best thing for you to do if your dog’s bottom is red and swollen is to take it to the vet as soon as possible. They will be able to diagnose the problem and, if it is something such as impacted anal glands that are at fault, provide you with the best solutions.