Anal Gland Abscess and Rupture in Dogs (Our Personal Experience)

anal gland abscess and rupture in dogs treatment

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Is there a large red lump appearing by the side of your dog’s anus? Or perhaps it’s clear that the swelling is rapidly progressing into an abscess? 

If your dog is in pain or is showing signs of being incredibly uncomfortable with its backside, then it may be an anal gland abscess.

Here’s what happened to our dog when she had a sudden anal gland abscess and rupture, and how long it took for her to fully heal.

dog ruptured anal gland abscess treatment

Anal sac disease is fairly common in dogs, and once the abscess bursts they will need immediate treatment through medication. If left untreated, the infection can quickly spread, causing severe damage to the anus and rectum.

There’s a lot of advice out there on how to deal with anal gland problems – leading to confusion and overwhelm. 

Here are some tips from our personal experience of dealing with an anal gland rupture…and what we wish we had known beforehand! 

Health Warning: There are some graphic photos below of our dog’s anal gland abscess and rupture which can make some people feel a little uncomfortable!

What are Anal Glands?

Most people don’t know that dogs have two glands in their anus, called anal sacs or anal glands, which are located under the skin near where the rectum meets the anus. 

These glands produce a smelly liquid that is normally pushed out of your dog’s body when they poop, but sometimes these secretions build up inside their body and need to be expressed manually by the vet (lovely!)

A large number of dogs will have some form of issue with their anal glands during their lifetime. 

dog scooting from anal gland issues

Symptoms of an Anal Gland Abscess in Dogs

The following is a list of symptoms associated with anal gland abscesses in dogs:

  • Red, swollen bottom
  • Scooting (dragging their bottom along the ground)
  • Pain when pooping
  • Quickly reaching round to try and lick their bottom
  • Excessive licking
  • Trying to poop more often, or straining
  • Foul, fishy smell
  • Wound near their anus
  • Sitting down suddenly
  • Discharge, or blood around their bottom
  • Low energy
  • Drinking lots of water
  • Loss of appetite
  • Whining, or needing to be close to you

However, not all of these symptoms need to be present to confirm the issue.

For example, one of the most common facts about anal gland secretion is that it has a foul, fishy smell.

When our dog started having issues this smell was the first thing we looked for, but it didn’t smell foul at all. This led us on a wild goose chase, believing that it couldn’t have been an issue with her anal glands!

That’s why it’s so important to get professional advice from a vet as soon as possible.

Timeline of our Dog’s Anal Gland Abscess and Rupture

Day 1

We first noticed that our beagle was scooting around the floor a lot more regularly. I mean, she is partial to this every now and again, but on this particular morning it was fairly constant. 

We checked her backside and all seemed fine, nothing unusual at all. 

Towards the evening, she began drinking a lot of water, almost twice as much as she normally would. She also became quite needy, wanting to stay close to us. 

Then there was the sudden sitting and reaching around towards her bum.

Just before bedtime, we noticed a slight swelling on the left side of her anus. She was walking around quite gingerly and being a little cautious when jumping up onto the couch, but all else seemed fine. 

Our initial thoughts were that she may have been stung by an insect whilst out in the yard all day.

Day 2

The morning after was a little shocking, to say the least.

We couldn’t believe just how aggressively the swelling had grown overnight. From almost nothing to a whopping great big abscess.

picture of anal gland abscess in dogs

Our beagle was clearly uncomfortable and understandably reaching around to her butt to try and figure out what was going on.

We called the vets immediately and they booked us in for the afternoon. 

Our dog did not suffer from any loss of appetite (she’s a beagle!) and so was eating as normal, however, she was really struggling to poop. She was in and out constantly, trying desperately to go but was having a lot of trouble.

Soon after breakfast whilst inside the house, she sat down suddenly – causing the abscess to burst!

This left a small bloody puddle on the floor which had us in a little panic, but the dog seemed to feel a lot better. Again, this did not have any foul smell whatsoever.

anal gland rupture red bloody liquid

After our visit to the vets, they confirmed that this was an anal gland abscess and rupture, and recommended a course of antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, and pain relief for the next 10 days, no other treatment was deemed necessary. 

They warned that the wound would get worse before it starts to heal, which was very reassuring considering what was yet to come…

dog fresh ruptured anal gland

Day 3

Our dog was miles better on day 3 and was able to have pees and poops way easier than the last couple of days. 

She couldn’t resist the urge to try and lick her backside, so we placed an Inflatable Collar on her to prevent this from happening, which she took to really well.

We also had to frequently replace blankets and towels on her bedding as the wound was seeping everywhere. 

Naturally, she was still scooting along the floor which meant the wound and abscess were being aggravated. To our horror, we then saw the following…

anal gland abscess rupture in dogs

Having never experienced anything like this before, you can understand how dog parents may react when they see this happening to their little fur-babies! 

It was heartbreaking, as it looked horrendously painful. However, the truth is that she did not seem like she was in any pain and was far better than she had been. 

Now, your first thought will be that there is absolutely no way this wound can heal and close up without stitches, after all, it was huge! 

A quick video consultation with the vets provided further reassurance that this was to be expected, and that the medication and anti-inflammatories would help with the healing process. Phew!

anal gland abscess rupture home treatment

Days 4-14

Over the coming days, our beagle was finally getting back to her usual, playful self – even though the sight of her bottom made us wince every time she turned around! 

We’re pretty sure that the medication had a large part to play in her comfort and the healing process.

At around day 10 the wound had completely closed up. Naturally, our dog found the scab a little irritating and would rub her bottom along the floor at every opportunity. She was supervised outside where we have rough flooring as this was very likely to open up the wound again.

dog anal gland infection

How to Treat an Anal Gland Rupture in Dogs

1. Don’t Express Their Glands

If you normally empty your dog’s anal sacs yourself, you’ll want to make sure you definitely do not try this if looks like there’s an infection developing. Your dog will find this incredibly painful and you may end up making matters far worse.

2. Try not to Panic

It is likely that once the abscess has progressively formed it will rupture or burst naturally at some point when your dog sits down. This may cause some distress to you both, but try not to make a big deal out of it. Dogs can sense panic in their owners!

3. Find Reassurance

Once the abscess has burst, your dog will (more than likely) be in less pain as the pus will start draining out and relieving some of the pressure. This is a good thing for them.

4. Get Professional Help

Your dog will need a visit to the vet where they can flush out the wound, and prescribe anti-inflammatories, pain relief, and antibiotics to help make your pooch a little more comfortable to assist with healing.

5. Keep the Area Clean

We were advised to use warm water and hypoallergenic cotton wool pads, keeping the wound clean by rubbing around the area very gently. This is particularly important after they have had a poop to try and keep the area as sterile as possible

6. Prevent Licking

Do your best to prevent them from licking their bottom or any of the pus stains left on bedding.

7. Get an Inflatable Collar

Use an inflatable collar if you think your dog may make matters worse by reaching the wound.

using an inflatable collar for home treatment of anal gland issues

READ: Are Inflatable Collars Beagle-Proof?

Anal Gland Abscess and Rupture Healing Process

Most anal gland abscesses and ruptures will heal after 10-14 days, so long as there are no complications. 

Just as we have experienced, the wound will initially look far worse before it gets better. 

If possible, try to prevent your dog from scooting along the floor once the abscess has ruptured as this may agitate the wound further, causing delays to the healing process.

Here’s an overall look at the healing process for a dog’s anal gland abscess and rupture:

anal gland abscess and rupture in dogs healing process

3 Ways to Prevent Anal Gland Abscess and Rupture in Dogs

1. Keep them in good shape

Just like humans, dogs can quickly become out of shape if they don’t get enough exercise. Overweight dogs can also find it more difficult to empty their anal glands due to weakened muscles around their bottom.

2. Good diet

Feed them good quality dog food filled with additional fiber to encourage stable digestion and healthy stools. Bulky and firmer poop will help with emptying their anal glands naturally, as the anal sacs are more likely to fill up after a few days of diarrhea. 

NOTE: Dogs that scavenge and pick up things they are not supposed to (such as eating dog poop) are more likely to have soft stools and issues with their anal glands.

3. Regular checks

Take your dog to the vet every two or three months to see if they need to have their anal glands emptied. This normally costs around $25 / £20 and is a fairly easy process. 

Beagles and other (highly) food-driven dogs are particularly prone to problems with their anal sacs as they have the tendency to be overweight, and therefore should be checked routinely.

Can you empty Anal Glands yourself?

Ideally, anal glands should be expressed by a vet or trained professionals. Trying to empty anal glands yourself when there is no need can lead to inflammation or further issues in healthy dogs. Some dogs may also come to rely on it and will stop emptying their glands naturally.

If your dog has ongoing problems then you can ask your vet to show you what you need to look out for before bringing them in.

How much does it cost to Treat Anal Gland Rupture in Dogs?

There is not an awful lot the vets can do once an anal gland has ruptured, other than to flush it out. Usually, a course of anti-inflammatories and/or pain relief along with antibiotics is prescribed for around 10 days. 

The average cost of a vet consultation with these prescribed medications is in the region of $140 / £120.

If the rupture is left untreated or complications arise, then surgery may be required to remove the anal glands. Discuss these options with your vet. 

Emergency Help for Anal Gland Ruptures

If you’re unable to reach your own vets and need to get hold of someone urgently about a potential anal gland rupture, you can speak to a licensed professional vet via video or chat 24/7 through Fuzzy Digital Pet Care

Suitable Insurance

Ensuring that you have adequate insurance for your dog will take the stress out of any ongoing problems. Check that you are happy with the level of cover you are being provided with as some insurers may not cover the initial cost of treatment for an anal gland abscess.

TIP: Some vets offer a monthly payment plan for around $25 / £20 which also includes checking and expressing anal glands for an unlimited number of times. 

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Your Dog’s Anal Gland Abscess and Rupture Will Heal!

If you’ve never experienced an anal gland abscess and rupture in your dog, then count yourself (and your pooch) extremely lucky! Anal sac disease is fairly common, however, there are ways to identify potential issues early on and prevent this from happening in the future.

If it’s looking likely that your dog has an abscess, rest assured that they will be back to their usual self once you have got them the treatment they need!

And finally, an anal gland rupture looks far worse than it actually is, but we hope this article has given you some faith that in a matter of a few days, everything will be just fine with your pup again.

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We have owned and cared for many beagles over the years, and understand how challenging it can be to find reliable information when you need it the most. At The Barmy Beagle, we create original content through writers with personal experiences, to ensure you have authentic information at your fingertips, making life as a new or existing beagle owner a little bit easier, and far more enjoyable.

41 thoughts on “Anal Gland Abscess and Rupture in Dogs (Our Personal Experience)”

  1. Thank you so much for sharing this… we are currently dealing with a situation, of course on the weekend. Uhg. We have decided our fur baby should be ok until we can get into the vet tomorrow. I was feeling good about our decision plus we know if we change our mind we can always run to the ER later. Your story and pictures have made me feel even more settled. Thank you

  2. Your time line is a reassuring godsend to me after my gorgeous boy’s anal gland ruptured 3 days ago. My situation literally mirrors yours. I too assumed he had an insect bite as he displayed no signs of discomfort. It went from nothing to a plum sized abscess in about 7hrs and then burst. Even after taking him straight to the vet, getting it cleaned and meds, I’ve still been a devastated wreck. But your account,of your experience,with pics of your little ones healing process means everything to me. I can gauge his progress without having a complete and utter breakdown now!!
    One question, in between his lulls and signs of discomfort he just wants to play and run. Is this OK or shall I try my best to keep him calm and still. He’s a typical hyper Boston Terrier, so it’s proving a challenge.
    Thanks again for your invaluable article, which I’m glad I stumbled across. Xxx

    1. Hi Clair, we are so very glad to hear how reassuring you found this post! Hopefully, your boy is already miles better now, but gentle games and playtime should have no effect on the healing – let him have his fun! The real thing to watch out for is scooting or reaching round to lick the wound, try to avoid this wherever you can. An inflatable collar at night (when he is not supervised) is the best way to help with the latter. It will be fully healed in no time!

      1. I’ve just experienced this with my longhair chihuahua and we are both still traumatised. The photos of the healing process has helped enormously along with your description of medications and that it will look worse before it gets better. My baby’s gland ruptured six days ago and I’m taking her back to the vet tomorrow just to have her checked over again, I hate that my baby is in discomfort and pain and she’s just not herself. Thank you for sharing your experience

  3. Thank you!!! I read so many articles as this was happening to my senior Brussels Griffon…but this was by far the most helpful and really helped us get through it!

  4. Thank you! This has been the best information that I have read. It is a holiday weekend and I have to wait to get my got into the vet so this information gives me some comfort and knowing not to panic if the infection turns into an abscess and bursts. Thank you!

  5. Makayla Windham

    Hi! I just wanted to thank you for posting as much detail as absolutely possible. I stumbled across this article when researching about my dog’s random abscess that grew on her butt seemingly overnight when I’d NEVER seen it before (and I lay very close attention to her for this reason). After reading the article, it definitely helped me prepare a little bit more than what the emergency vet had given me to help her (our normal vet was short staffed and wasn’t able to get us in within the timeframe they opened and I had discovered it). I wondered though if you had any advice on how to encourage a dog with a healing anal gland wound to poop. My dog will only pee, and I’ve given her pumpkin and a softer diet to help soften her stool so poops are less painful, but all she does is slam her butt into the grass the moment she feels the feeling and refuses to go. I’m kind of at a loss because we’re on day 3, VERY soon to be day 4 of her healing process and she’s not passed a single bowel movement even though I KNOW she wants to. Any advice on how to help my poor baby?

    1. Hi Makayla, thank you so much for taking the time to tell us how helpful this post was – it makes a world of difference hearing this from our readers! Pooping can be a terrifying prospect for your pooch right now, and if she can stop herself from going then that’ll be the easier option for her. No doubt, she will begin to feel rather uncomfortable if she hasn’t been for several days. And it’s highly likely that your dog is restricting her movements due to the wound, which can be slowing her metabolism down. The most effective way to get dogs to poop after an anal gland abscess/rupture is by taking them on a short walk (on the leash) somewhere they normally associate with pooping. Coupled with a fiber-rich diet, movement and light exercise is the best way to start regulating her bowels again, and it shouldn’t be too long into her walk before she has to poop, voluntarily or not! Hopefully that’ll work for you and your pup, please let us know how she gets on?

  6. Louise Latanowich

    I’m so glad to find your post, so informative and reassuring. Just came back from urgent care and thought my dog was dying, butt first. Never had that problem with other dogs so really didn’t know much about it. Our little unicorn got a pretty severe ruptured gland and they sent us home with antibiotics, anti inflammatory and pain medicine but it looks like so much more should be done. So thank you for educating us, I fell so much better knowing others have been through this and will wait patiently for his recovery

    1. Hey Louise,

      It’s terrifying experiencing an anal gland rupture for the first time, right? The wound looks like it’ll never heal on its own but dogs are just amazing! We are so glad to hear you found the information here useful, thank you so much for taking the time to comment.

      TBB Team

  7. Thank you for this post!
    Did you use some kind of cream/ointment during the treatment? If so, did you put it inside “the hole”?

    1. You are very welcome! Our vet did not advise using any ointment, only to clean the area (very gently) with water-soaked cotton pads, especially after she had been for a poop. The anti-biotics should take care of the infection.

  8. Our chihuahua/pekingese had a rupture a couple of days ago. We didn’t know what it was. I finally suspected an anal gland rupture and got online to research. I am so glad to have found this site! Everything here (your whole post, pictures, descriptions, remedies, comments and replies) has been so informative and helpful! Thank you, thank you!!!

    1. Hey Marsha, thank you so much for your kind comments – we really appreciate it and are so pleased to hear that you found it helpful! Hope your little fur-baby is well on their way to recovery!

  9. Hey guys, Jeremy here once again, so sorry to do this!. Just wanted to update. Last night our girl started looking uncomfortable once again, getting up and down, sniffing her behind, licking etc one week after the last vet visit as normal so I lifted her tail to take a look and at that exact moment green/yellow puss started leaking from her backside..! I just thought ohh you poor thing not again off to the after hours vet we went. I showed the vet a video I managed to film of the puss draining and she said ohh my that is bad.. drained the glands which also had blood in them, said the infection is most certainly back. Gave her a needle for pain and also antibiotic injection along with a two week course of two different types of antibiotics. Took a swab to send off to the lab Monday to see which strain of bacteria it is. So the last two vets have managed to miss the infection and pass it off as nothing unfortunately. Really hoping this long course of antibiotics will clear the infection and be done with it but the vet said they may need to be surgically removed. Really hoping not!

    Thanks guys, hoping this may help someone in future

    1. Jeremy, your posts have definitely helped! Thank you for sharing the problems your dog has had, and the follow-ups! Our dog is having a problem now, and your posts have been very helpful!

    2. Hi Jeremy,

      My dog is having a similar issue. Wondering how your girl has been since all thy transpired?

      Thanks so much

  10. Jeremy again here, just like to update my last comment from a few weeks ago. Since the initial burst gland , things were going well, then 1 week later our pup started looking uncomfortable again (on a Sunday of course when things are more expensive) so I took her to a different vet where they said healing appeared very good but not sure why they had to express her again. Fast forward another week later (yes, Sunday again) and same thing happened, she was scooting, sniffing and licking. Took her to yet another vet who said everything appears normal, there wasn’t anything to express this time and maybe it was just the fur where they clipped growing back being a bit uncomfortable or possibly some healing twitches back there. Hopefully this might give someone a bit of peace of mind in the event they too experience a similar thing.

    Thanks again Barmy Beagle

    1. Ours was still scooting for some time too, no doubt it’s a traumatic experience for them, and understandable that it doesn’t quite feel right back there during the healing process. So long as they’re not scooting on particularly rough surfaces and aggravating the wound, it’ll soon be a distant memory! That’s incredibly helpful to know, thank you so much for providing an update Jeremy!

  11. Thanks for this, it really helped on the night it happened to us. Our 10yo shepherd had what looked to be hot spots on her behind but as we now know these were actually anal glands. One night she started licking something off her bed and we smelled that familia smell, that’s the moment she had actually burst..! In pain at 2am we called emergency after hours vet who gave her antibiotics, codeine and cream. It’s been two days now and she slept through last night th God so not in so much pain but her bum is swollen, I’m hoping this subsides soon!

    1. Hey Jeremy,

      Hopefully your shepherd is over the worst of it! It’s terrible for any dog to go through a burst anal gland, let alone a senior dog. Thank you for letting us know this post really helped to reassure you everything would be ok. Hugs and kisses to your poorly pup!

  12. Thank you for this post. My elderly dog had this develop quickly over the weekend. The vet tried to clear out his anal glands but the abscess came anyway and quite rapidly within 24 hours of compresses.

    We knew it was likely going to happen as we were told to expect one, but wasn’t prepared what to expect. With each compress it kept growing so large! It was heartbreaking to see him in such distress right before rupturing, all the blood and sizable hole in our beloved dog after the fact. The poor guy seemed instantly better once it ruptured, however like you described. Even with it actively still draining, he seems so much more comfortable and was even playing this evening. It’s a relief to see his appearance is normal progression and he will continue to improve like your dog did!

    He’s in good physical shape and ideal weight, has great bowel movements so this caught us completely off guard. The vet says that impacted anal glands and abscesses can happen for many reasons including old age or even allergies.

    1. Hey Sara,

      Thank you for your message! I agree, it can be completely heartbreaking watching your poor pup going through this, especially at old age. I’m glad the vets gave you some indication of what to expect, hopefully the photos of our dog’s healing progress will help further reassure that it shouldn’t be too before the wound closes up. So happy that he is being playful again!

  13. Thanks so much for documenting this! My poor girl had an abscess that ruptured (I assume because there were a couple of small bloody spots on the floor) a few days ago but I was clueless until last night when another spot appeared and I looked closely and noticed the awful swelling. She didn’t show any signs like scooting or anything. Got to the vet today and they drained and cleaned the anal sac and sent her home with some pain meds and antibiotics but no cone of shame or anything like that and no further special instructions for me. There seems to be a small hole about the size of a dot from a felt tip marker that I assume was created by the vet. We’ve got a recheck scheduled for ten days from today. I have no clue what caused it as her stool seems normal sized and consistency. A real mystery.

    1. It can be fairly tricky finding the root cause of the abscess unless you have any real level of certainty. Perhaps your vet will be able to identify the reason when you go back for a checkup in ten days? It’s good to hear that she didn’t show any signs of discomfort, hopefully she has a good (and quick) recovery!

  14. I’ve been looking for a something like this since my dog got an abscess yesterday. It ruptured while I was at work. I took her to the vet where they flushed it and medicated her. She woke up yelping at 1:00 this morning (she’s not what you’d call a stoic dog) and while the pain med helped, it broke my heart to leave her to come to work today. I was looking for a timeline of healing to help put my mind at ease and this post was perfect. Thank you!

    1. We are so sorry your pup was in pain this morning, it’s an awful thing to go through. We are fairly certain that she is far more comfortable now than before the rupture, and although pretty terrible to look at – it should heal soon. Thank you for your comment, we love to share our experiences to help others feel reassured!

  15. What brand inflatable collar did you use? My dog has same issue and his patience is wearing thin with the plastic collar. I thought he was on way to healing but it filled with blood today and ruptured again. I need a collar option that is easier to get on and more comfortable for him.

    1. Hi Pam, we’re so sorry to hear that your poor boy is going through another rupture. We have tried so many different types of collars, the most important factors come down to getting the right size with an adjustable strap. You may find this post helpful, and we would recommend something similar to these inflatable collars. They keep inflated and last 10x longer than the ones with a hook and loop. Let us know if you need any other info, we wish your pooch a speedy recovery!

  16. Thanks for all the informations!

    What scares me the most is how fast it can progress, it came out of nowhere. He didn’t show any discomfort or symptoms at all. No pain, no scooting… I’m aslo getting him more active.

    Thanks again for everything!

  17. Hi there, my boy is having an reoccurring anal gland abscess. It happened exactly like how you described, the abscess happened so fast, seemingly overnight. Ever since his last incident, I’ve been careful with the area, I clean him with wipes after he does his business, I take pictures every week. So the new abscess really took me by surprise. I took him to the vet before it popped, the vet gave me some antibiotics and cream. And it popped right now, do I need to go back to the vet?

    1. Hi John,

      We are so sorry to hear that your poor boy is going through this again. I would most definitely give your vet a call, it’s likely he will need to go back on the antibiotics for a minimum of 10 days, but go by their advice. How long ago was the first one? It might be worth discussing with your vet whether he needs regular anal gland expression to try and help prevent a recurring abscess. We wish him a speedy recovery.

      1. Thanks for replying!

        The first abscess was on June 14, the vet open the abscess and clean him up, he told me he found only a little bit gland secretion.

        I took him to get his gland checked and expressed on July 14, the vet again found very little juice, but there was a little bit pink on the tissue. The vet told me it was okay, so I didn’t think too much of it.

        I learned how to express anal gland externally myself. So I did one on August 3, I got 5, 6 drops of anal gland content, but that was it.

        The most recent abscess was on the 11th, his glands weren’t impacted.

        He’s doing better now, I still can’t figure out why. I’m experimenting with his diet, I’m lowering his fat intakes and added more fibers.

        1. Hi John,

          It’s tough to know exactly what’s causing a recurring anal gland abscess. Sometimes we may tend to over-express, which itself can lead to further complications. It’s best to have monthly/bimonthly checkups with your vet so that they can assess whether expressing is necessary.

          You’re doing all the right things with his diet – obesity is high on the list when it comes to issues with anal glands in dogs, lack of sufficient exercise can also be a factor.

          We send our best wishes to your little boy!

        2. JEANETTE RADER

          My little dog had an abcess just like the pictures you show. I thought it could be cancer ( I’m an RN,) so of course I had horrible images in my mind. It was just as horrific and painful as others described , it burst at the vet’s office, was flushed and she got antibiotics, pain meds and steroids. It’s been three weeks now and I am hyper vigilant watching her butt!! All the time while we walk! I think we have both suffered equally over this and I never ever want to go through this again! Your article was excellent and I thank you for the pics and information.

          1. Hey Jeanette, I totally get your paranoia with her butt now, we do exactly the same! We always assumed it would happen again as they can have recurring issues with their anal glands, but if it makes you feel any better – it hasn’t! Thank you so much for letting us know our article was helpful, and wish your little one a quick recovery!

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