Anal Sac Problems
We love our 30-pound Heinz variety dog a lot but he has a problem that is driving him, and us, nuts. He’s always scooting around on the ground and carpets on his rear end. Our veterinarian says Max has an anal gland that is giving him trouble. What can we do to help him?
Dogs and cats have anal sacs located on each side of the opening of their rectum. The duct emptying each sac opens at the point where the skin and rectum meet. Each sac is made up of many, many small glands and the sac can accumulate glandular secretions which usually are squeezed out during bowel movements.
Dogs are more prone to anal gland problems than cats. They will scoot along on their bottom trying to empty each gland. In the process they can leave a very foul odor wherever they scoot, including beds and carpets. Often the dog will suddenly turn and chew on his tail area as if something bit him.
Max may have anal sacs that have filled with normal glandular secretions or the sacs may have become infected. Once in awhile the sacs will even break open through the skin to the outside if there is severe infection. This is called an abscess and should be treated with antibiotic infusions into the sac as well as oral antibiotics.
Food allergy can also be associated with chronic anal sac disease. If this is suspected as being the cause of your dog’s problems, then your veterinarian will recommend that your dog be out on a special diet that will eliminate the offending allergens.
Your veterinarian should be examining the secretions expressed from the glands and treating any infections. If the sacs are simply filling up and not expressing on their own, you might ask your veterinarian if she would teach you how to express glands.
Occasionally the anal sacs must be removed surgically if they become chronically infected or cause continuing discomfort to the dog. This is not as drastic as it sounds since the anal glands have no function. It is believed that they originally were used by animals to spray the boundaries of their territory to warn other animals to stay away.
Cats are less likely than dogs to have anal gland problems. Their problems are usually mechanical obstructions of the sacs rather than infections. Expressing the secretions solves the problem.