Why is my dog rubbing his bottom even after I have wormed him? This is a question vets get asked all the time. And it's true that worms can cause an itchy bottom, but if symptoms persist post worming then the cause is likely to be anal gland disease. Anal glands are the scent glands which excrete a liquid onto stools when dogs defecate. Therefore, this medical problem can be accompanied by a particularly unpleasant smell and, unfortunately for dogs and their owners, is a very common complaint.
For young German Shepherd Tosca, visiting the vets to have his anal glands expressed had already become an all too familiar pattern. And it's bad enough when visiting the vet for any reason has you shaking in your paws, let alone having the vet don a rubber glove and examine the anal area with each visit. Fortunately for Tosca we have been able to get his anal gland condition under control by addressing the cause of this disease.
Anal glands cause itchy bottoms by either becoming inflamed secondary to allergies, or by becoming blocked or impacted. It is not well understood why these glands become impacted, therefore prevention of this form of anal gland disease is difficult to achieve. However, those anal gland problems caused by allergies are controlled by the same methods used to treat skin allergies. The allergen is usually something airborne such as pollen or dust mites, although food allergies can cause anal gland problems too. When the only symptom is an itchy bottom, we tend to use topical treatments on the anal gland area. Tosca's owners manage his anal gland disease by wiping his bottom everyday with a warm cloth and using a cortisone spray when his skin is inflamed. This spray is a brand new product on the market and we like it because it is very safe for long term use, unlike other cortisone medications. Besides the spray, there are creams available also. If symptoms involve larger areas of the body, then allergy testing can be done to try and get a cure.
Tosca has been on his cortisone spray for a few months now and we haven't had to express his anal glands yet, which is fantastic news for both him and his owners. We hope that Tosca can make it through the challenging spring and summer 'itchy' months without any anal gland problems.