Anal Sac Disease

Anal sac disease or anal gland disease is a very common and smelly problem in dogs. If you have ever smelled a terrible, fishy smelling odour from the back end of your favourite dog, you have experienced the smell of anal gland discharge!
Anal sacs are scent glands that live at the 4 and 8 o’clock position inside the rectum. They hold a dog’s particular scent. A small amount of the scent is expelled every time the dog has a bowel movement and it used to mark territory. Dogs will also release the contents of these glands when they are nervous or upset. These are the same glands that in skunks contain the stinky stuff they spray!

Dogs get into problems with their anal glands if the glands do not empty properly. This can occur if the dog has diarrhea, develops thick secretions, or congenitally has very tiny ducts–as happens in miniature schnauzers or poodles. When the glands become overfull, they put pressure on the surrounding tissues and can become abscessed. The dog then ends up with a large “boil”on his hind end which is not pleasant. Symptoms of impending anal gland problems can include licking at the rectum or scooting ( dragging the rectum along the ground in an attempt to relieve pressure). Some dogs have difficulty defecating when their anal glands are causing problems.

Final diagnosis of anal sac disease lies in the hands of your veterinarian, literally! A digital rectal exam is needed to determine if the anal sacs are impacted ( or full) and at this point they may need to be manually expressed. If an abscess is present, it may need to be drained or lanced and flushed and the ducts will need to flushed. Antibiotics may be prescribed if there is an infection present.

So how do you prevent anal sac disease? Regular expression by your vet, groomer, or you at home will empty the glands. High fiber diets, probiotics and digestive enzymes will help to prevent anal gland problems. Our sister company Natural Wellbeing has a great digestive aid product that can be used in dogs and cats. It is called Digest Optimal Alcohol-Free. The link is here:


The dosage in dogs is 1 drop per 2 lbs.



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