The two tiny pouches known as the anal sacs are situated on either side of the anus, about at four and eight o’clock. A significant number of sebaceous (sweat) glands line the walls of the sac, which produces an odorous fluid. A tiny duct or canal that opens immediately within the anus releases the fluid that has been stored in the anal sacs. The anal glands are another name for the anal sacs. Both male and female dogs have these sacs.
What is their function?
Chemicals that serve as territorial marks or “dog calling cards” are present in the secretion of the anal sac. The secretions resemble those that a skunk makes and are used to ward off predators and warn other animals of their presence. Whenever the dog passes a bowel movement, anal sac fluid is typically pushed out by muscle contractions, giving the faeces a particular smell (or unique “scent signature”). This explains why dogs enjoy sniffing each other’s faeces so much.
Why are the anal sacs causing a problem in my dog?
In dogs, anal sac illness is fairly prevalent. The impacted (blocked) sacs are typically brought on by duct irritation. The affected sacs’ secretion will thicken, and the sacs will swell and distend as a result. Your dog experiences pain as a result of passing excrement. Abscesses can develop because the produced material in the anal sacs provides a perfect environment for bacterial growth. The ducts make it simple for bacteria that are often found in faeces to ascend and enter the sacs. In typical circumstances, the fluids that are released after a bowel movement wash the germs out. The fluid does not discharge regularly if the sacs are damaged, and they get contaminated. The fluid ultimately turns crimson, and the sacs finally fill with pus, creating an anal sac abscess.
On one or both sides of the anus, the abscess will manifest as a sore, hot, red, and unpleasant swelling. There will be a significant amount of greenish yellow or crimson pus released if the abscess rupture. The anus and rectum may suffer significant harm if the infection is not treated right away.
Changes in stool consistency are another factor in the recurrence of anal sac illness. Dogs who have digestive disorders including food allergies and inflammatory bowel disease are susceptible to this.
How will I know if my dog has anal sac problems?
Frequently, scooting or dragging the back along the ground is the initial symptom. Excessive licking or biting is possible, frequently near the base of the tail rather than the anal region. A painful condition is anal sac illness. When they have anal sac illness, even otherwise obedient dogs may snap or growl if you touch the tail or the anus. You can notice blood or pus oozing from the rectum if the anal sac ruptures.
How is anal sac disease treated?
Impaction is treated by expressing or emptying the sacs. It can be essential to flush out the afflicted sac in order to remove the crystallised material if the impaction is severe or if there is an infection. Some pets need a sedative or anaesthesia for this therapy since these conditions are uncomfortable.
Antibiotics, such as clindamycin, sold under the brand names Antirobe and Cleocin, are frequently recommended orally, though they occasionally need to be injected into the sacs. The majority of dogs will need painkillers (such meloxicam, sold under the brand name Metacam) for a few days until the edoema and inflammation have reduced. Surgery might be required in cases that are severe or advanced.
“Call your veterinarian right away if you think your pet might have an anal sac issue.”
In all dogs, regardless of size or breed, the anal sacs can develop issues. Call your veterinarian right away if you have any concerns that your pet might be experiencing an anal sac issue.
Is the condition likely to recur?
Dogs who are overweight frequently experience chronic anal sac issues because their anal sacs do not empty properly.
Dogs who are overweight frequently experience chronic anal sac issues because their anal sacs do not empty properly. Each impaction may result in further scarring and duct narrowing, increasing the frequency of recurrences. The sacs should be surgically removed if this issue occurs regularly.
Preventing anal sac disease entails treating the underlying cause and may necessitate switching the dog’s food to one with more fibre if the cause is a change in stool consistency.
Are anal sacs necessary for my dog? Will removal have any adverse effects?
The strong-smelling substance that the dog uses to mark his or her territory is produced by the anal sacs. This is an unneeded behaviour for our domesticated dogs, and removing it won’t harm your pet.
Are there any risks associated with surgical removal of the anal sacs?
The surgical procedure to remove the anal sacs is delicate and specialised. However, in severe circumstances, your veterinarian may advise referral to a board-certified veterinary surgeon. Some veterinarians routinely do this treatment. Following surgery, some dogs may have loose stools or poor bowel control for one to three weeks. This happens as a result of the nerves that pass through the soft tissues close to the anal sacs and govern the anal sphincters, the muscles that close the rectum. It may not be able to do the procedure without risking nerve damage if the infection is severe and deep. For the vast majority of pets, this damage heals on its own. Fecal incontinence, or the inability to control bowel motions, with continual excrement flow from your dog’s anus, can occur in rare circumstances when the nerve damage is permanent.
General anaesthesia is necessary, as with any operation, and there is always a chance of complications. These dangers are still being reduced by improvements in monitoring and anaesthetic medications. The best way to treat dogs with chronic or recurrent anal sac infections or impaction is through surgical removal.
My dog is very nervous and sometimes seems to express his own glands. Is this normal?
Dogs frequently expel the contents of their anal sacs, especially when scared. Some dogs even seem to be unable to control the anus or anal sac ducts, allowing little amounts of fluid to leak out when they are resting and producing a disagreeable odour in the house. You could choose to have the anal sacs removed if your dog has this issue.
What other problems can develop with the anal sacs?
Adenocarinoma, a type of anal gland cancer, can develop in older dogs. As a result, it is crucial to have your dog examined by a veterinarian as soon as any of the clinical indications listed above are noticed.
What erupts from a dog’s glands?
Millions of pets suffer from anal gland issues, which are highly common and frustrating. Anal gland problems result from enlarged, obstructed, or inflamed anal glands in dogs and cats. These two tiny glands, which are also known as anal sacs, are present at the anal hole in all dogs and cats. Every time your pet faeces, these glands, which are roughly the size of a tiny grape, usually release a few drops of scent-marking fluid (observed near the end of defecation).
Anal Gland Illustration
Figure 1 depicts the placement and relative size of the canine anal glands (often referred to as anal sacs). The anal glands in a dog are internal and cannot be seen while looking at the back of the animal. Your pet may experience discomfort when the anal glands enlarge due to swelling or blockage. Your pet might scoot or lick the area in an effort to release the pressure. Although both anal glands are typically damaged, just one swollen anal gland is shown in this image.
Symptoms of Anal Gland Problems in Dogs
It can produce pressure, which can be extremely uncomfortable for your dog or cat, if the anal glands in your pet overflow. Your dog may then exhibit anal gland symptoms, the most typical of which is scooting their back end over the floor. Along with scooting, other indications that your dog has an anal gland issue include a fishy or foul odour, excessive licking of the behind, discomfort when standing or sitting, straining to urinate, and redness or swelling close to the back end.
Cats’ Anal Gland Issues’ Symptoms Since cats are highly adept at hiding their sickness, it may be challenging to identify any signs in cats. Defecating outside of the litter box is one of the few symptoms that could point to an anal gland problem in your cat.
How can you determine whether your dog needs their glands expressed?
Watch out for these warning signs:
- On the carpet, your dog is rolling about.
- Your dog is frequently licking his behind.
- If your dog’s glands are overworked, they may leak out a foul odour.
- On occasion, you can notice brownish material stains in areas where your dog has sat, like on your carpet, furniture, or your lap.
Do dogs require squeezing of their glands?
Some dogs require manual anal gland expression on a regular basis, such as once or twice a year, or even monthly in certain circumstances. Actually, the better question is if your dog needs her glands expressed rather than when.
Which dog breeds require the expression of their glands?
The anal glands are to blame if you’ve ever wondered why dogs are so fascinated with sniffing their buddies’ behinds.
One of the best things you can do for you and your pooch is to get a dog! However, if you’re a new or aspiring dog parent, we’re here to caution you about some less glamorous aspects of puppy parenthood that no one ever discusses.
Your dog is a predator, whether you like it or not. So, on the bottom sides of their anus, they have two anal sacs, commonly known as anal glands. The pressure of the faeces and the contracting muscles causes a tiny bit of the odour-producing chemical to escape from the glands each time they urinate.
While the aroma repels us as humans, it serves as your dog’s unique calling card to other dogs, allowing them to recognise them and convey information about their sex, health, and age.
When frightened, dogs may also release anal glands to frighten away predators. If your dog was afraid or startled, their anal glands may have produced a foul odour that you later detected.
WHAT DOGS NEED THIS SERVICE?
Chihuahuas, Toy and Miniature Poodles, Cocker Spaniels, Lhasa Apsos, Basset Hounds, and Beagles top the list of breeds that are more likely to require monthly, manual expression of their glands. Dogs of all sizes, though, can experience anal gland problems.
Typical causes and influencing elements include:
Less frequently, a tumour or a congenital abnormality that hinders normal drainage might lead to anal gland impaction.
HOW DO I KNOW IF MY DOG NEEDS HIS ANAL GLANDS EXPRESSED?
Scooting is a hallmark symptom of anal gland issues. Your dog will try to relieve the pressure and discomfort by dragging his butt across the floor. Dogs with impacted or inflamed anal glands might also exhibit other symptoms in addition to scooting, such as:
HOW OFTEN SHOULD I EXPRESS MY DOG’S ANAL GLANDS?
Only when absolutely necessary should manual anal gland expression be performed. The majority of dogs live their lives without ever requiring a manual expression (or only on rare occasions).
Don’t express them if there is no justification for doing so. Frequent anal gland expression might irritate and harm the glands, possibly resulting in the formation of scar tissue that will clog the drainage duct.
WHAT HAPPENS IF THEY AREN’T EXPRESSED REGULARLY?
The anal glands may swell up and become excruciatingly unpleasant if they do not empty properly.
Additionally, an impaction, or blockage of the exit duct, can cause the glands to enlarge. An impacted gland is the ideal place for bacteria to colonise and develop an infection since anal glands are warm and moist.
Impactions and infections of the anal glands cause your dog great suffering. Abscesses often develop in infected glands, causing the already swollen gland to become filled with pus. The gland will eventually rupture, probably through your dog’s body wall on the back because it is the path of least resistance. That is a messy and unpleasant scenario, as you can probably guess.
HOW DO I TREAT ANAL GLAND ISSUES?
The majority of anal gland issues can be treated manually and are not life-threatening.
Your dog should be evaluated by your veterinarian to identify the root of any ongoing anal gland problems. Any underlying disorders that might be causing your pet’s problems will be treated by your veterinarian.
Common elements of a treatment plan include weight loss and an increase in fibre consumption. Cans of pumpkin (not pie filling; the only component should be pumpkin) and psyllium are two secure sources of fibre for dogs. In order to reduce inflammation and promote healthy skin, your veterinarian might also suggest taking an omega-3 supplement.
Anal gland removal may be necessary in cases of severe or ongoing anal gland issues. This procedure should only be used as a last option because it is difficult and hazardous.
Good grooming and hygiene practises, knowledge of these glands, and awareness of the symptoms of inflammation are all part of preventative care for your dog.
- When he was 15 years old, Dr. MacLean got his first job working as a grooming assistant. Since then, he has held positions in every department of small animal veterinary facilities, spent 26 years as a practising veterinarian specialising in small animal medicine and surgery, and founded and owned veterinary practises with many doctors.
Jim earned his doctorate in veterinary medicine from Virginia Tech’s VMRCVM in 1994 and his MBA from Georgetown University in 2011. He has a knack for both medicine and business.
How come a dog’s glands swell up?
Anal glands can swell for a variety of causes, but they typically do so after prolonged diarrhoea when there hasn’t been enough pressure to force the glands to empty. Whenever they haven’t been properly emptied, glands run the risk of being obstructed, impacted, and swollen. If they are impacted for an extended period of time, they might develop harmful bacteria, which can lead to inflammation, pain, fever, and occasionally even abscesses.
What occurs if you don’t express the glands in your dog?
Anal glands are the scent glands that are situated near a dog’s anus and sphincter and secrete an oily fluid with a strong scent, according to the College of Veterinary Medicine at Washington State University. Every time your dog poops, a tiny bit of the foul secretion, which is kept inside a dog’s anal sacs, is discharged. Additionally, when dogs are extremely scared or anxious, they frequently express their own anal glands.
Everyone is aware that inspecting each other’s buttholes is the canine equivalent of a handshake. Dogs sniff one other’s anal secretions when they welcome one another. The discharge of each dog smells differently.
When your dog has a bowel movement, the fluids must be expelled in order to clear away germs that has built up. Your dog becomes imprisoned when it defecates but the sacs are impacted. DVMs at VCA Animal Hospitals claim that after that, an infection happens, which might result in an anal sac abscess.
Where the anal gland problems start
Anal gland problems in dogs occur when they become irritated and unable to secrete enough of the fluid, resulting in the sacs becoming overfilled (aka impacted). Impaction is no joke. Anal sacs that have been impacted may become infected, develop an abscess, or even worse, rupture, necessitating surgery.
Compared to large breeds, little breed dogs like beagles, cocker spaniels, and chihuahuas are more likely to develop impacted anal glands. There are several indicators that your dog requires an expression, has impacted glands, or has an anal infection.
- Anal region licking and/or biting
- a flamboyant or red anus
- When urinating, have consistently soft stools or loose stools
- a fishy odour that is significantly stronger than the typical anal gland odour