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Bulldog Anal Gland Problem and How to Treat It

Bulldogs, for all their tough looks, are susceptible to many dog diseases and need a lot of care and attention from their owners. One rather unappealing health issue, which occurs in many bulldogs, is clogged anal glands.What is it and how to treat it?
What are bulldog anal gland problems? Anal glands are pouches in the anus that produce oily substance that dogs mark their territory with. When they are not fully emptied, their anal glands can become clogged and inflamed. If the anal glands become clogged, they can cause irritation, pain, and infection.
It’s your responsibility as a bulldog owner to watch for symptoms and clean out the glands.

What can cause bulldog anal gland problems?

First, we need a quick history lesson. This background and history all contributes to why the issue of anal gland is such a big deal with the bulldogs.
Bulldogs are unmistakable with their baggy skin and massive heads. The quintessentially English dog, the breed was originally created to control livestock – bulls, horses and boars. Bulldogs were also used in the barbaric sport of bull baiting, when a dog would latch to bull’s nose of neck to bring it down. Bread for their aggression, an 80 pound bulldog would jump, cork screw its body around bull’s neck, and bring the animal down.
With that “sport” banned, bulldogs broke up into several breeds, British bulldogs becoming smaller from 100-120 pounds to the current 40 pounds. In Germany, bulldogs were bred into what is now a boxer. In the U.S., American bulldog appeared as the species was becoming increasingly rare in the 1930s.
Bulldogs thrived in areas where there were cattle and fencing was difficult due to terrain. Fiercely loyal and protective of humans, bulldog has become a symbol, most famously of U.S. Marines.
For bulldogs to perform their original duty of herding and controlling cattle, bulldogs had to make their territory. To that end these dogs have two glands or sacks, located on either side of their anuses. Sacks generate oily substance that dogs spray when defecating. By the way, this is what dogs smell when they greet each other.
These glands empty out when dogs defecate. However, in some instances, they don’t empty out completely – and this is where problems start. The oily substance that doesn’t get out dries out and thickens – and as a result these glands clog.

Symptoms Of Bulldog Anal Gland Problems

So what happens if your bulldog has clogged anal glands? Definitely this is going to make him or her very uncomfortable. What will the dog do?
Here are some of the symptoms:
  • Lots of hustling around
  • Endless licking of the read end
  • Sometimes growling and biting the rear end
  • Lots of moving around when defecating, a “walk it out” situation
  • Massive, Mordor-style foul odor after a bowel movement
  • Swollen or red anus

How To Treat Bulldog Anal Gland Problems

Anal gland infection treatment is a relatively easy but not the funnest procedure. You will need to gently drain the clogged and inflamed anal glands with your hands. Don’t try this without having someone show you the proper way first – preferably a vet. Plus this may make them uncomfortable. Some dogs are intuitive and know you are trying to help, but you may need an assistant to help calm your bulldog and help them stay still.
You don’t want to get it wrong – if you squeeze too hard, you can rupture the gland and the dog will get an infection – that’s a bad outcome.
If you get to blood in the stool, then you and your bulldog  is surely going to see the vet – this means there is an infection that has developed and we are going to need antibiotics.
If blood oozing doesn’t stop, your bulldog needs more fiber in their diet – this could be done via pills or by changing the feed makeup.

Prevention Of Anal Problems in Bulldogs

Bulldogs are active dogs, don’t let their exterior fool you. They need moderate exercise – walking, running, fetching for about 15 minutes twice a day and extra bouts of play here any there.
You should be out with your dog a couple of hours every day. If your dog doesn’t get enough exercise, the issue with anal glands could be coming up and not going away for a long while – these glands emptying out has a direct correlation to how much territory the dog has to mark.
To avoid any issues with your bulldog’s anal glands, please make sure that there is plenty of fiber in his or her diet. Many people make the mistake of not watching this closely – and this is where simply watching what the dog eats could fix massive health issues going forward.
Also, adjust your routine based on the size of your bulldog. Small dogs that get overweight can develop unwanted symptoms much faster than bigger animals. Keep your dog fit and running – and this is going to take care of many issues that are yet to develop.
Now, not everyone has the time to watch dog’s diet and exercise routing closely. The main thing is to be aware of the issue. If you realize that the dog has the symptoms, and your routing is not promoting healthy anal glands, there is still a way forward.
You will have to squeeze in the dry muck by hand. However, don’t rush to do it – dogs – especially bulldogs – are very resilient. The muck that didn’t exit the glad today may exit tomorrow – without you laying a hand on your dog’s anus.

Rectal Anal Glands Tip Of The Iceberg

As you go about fixing your bulldog’s anal issues, be mindful that bulldogs happen to have a lot of health issues. Some of the other common ailments include cardiac and respiratory disease, cherry eye, hip dysplasia, among other issues. Read more on common bulldog health problems. Bulldogs commonly perish from cardiac arrest can’t really swim and often fall victim to drowning in swimming pools, ponds or other large bodies of water, and can’t clean their skin – having to rely on humans to solve their issues.
We as humans are to blame for these issues bulldogs have. We have gone too far in challenging Mother Nature, and in making these dogs more likable. Certain popular traits were coming in and out of fashion and went against the grain of what is natural for the dogs.
For instance, human owners of bulldogs like the fact their faces are flat, making their mimic closer to human and easier to understand. However, shortening the muzzle created breathing issues for bulldogs. We did make them cuter – but now they can’t breathe.
The other issue is bulldogs’s heads. They are much larger than with many other breeds. The heads of puppies are so big that 80 percent of bulldogs are delivered via a Cesarean section. This is hardly how bulldogs were supposed to breed in the wild!
Tis list goes one – the legs have shortened, the under bite is huge, the face is almost flat. All these cosmetic issues had a direct impact on health of the breed which us not great.
So please tread carefully with your best friend – his or hers well-being depends on how well trained you are in looking after bulldogs, including anal gland problems, as unappealing as that sounds.


Lets recap the anal gland issues in bulldogs. First, the two sacs in the bulldogs anus are filled with an oily substance used to mark their territory. When the oily substance does not get fully excreted, the substance can become dried out and clog the glands. When this happens, the bulldogs anus becomes irritated and inflamed and cause a lot of discomfort during bowel movements or even just sitting down.
Bulldogs are unable to reach their anus to clean it and otherwise take care of problems behind them. You will need to provide the proper care and relief for your bulldog by gently draining the anal glands. I recommend reading this post on How to Wash a Bulldog. This is definitely not the most glamorous part of being a bulldog owner, but it has to be done and your bulldog will thank you with extra cuddles once they feel that relief. You can help to prevent anal gland problems with proper exercise and extra fiber in your bulldogs diet.
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