Anal Sac Disease – What is it and how can it be prevented.
Veterinarian Reviewed on January 17, 2013 by Dr. Janice Huntingford, DVM
Posted in Dogs
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 odor from the back end of your favorite dog, you have experienced the smell of anal gland discharge!
What is an Anal Sac?
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!
What Causes Anal Sac Disease?
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.
What are the Symptoms?
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.
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. We recommend SPARK Daily Nutritional Supplement to provide the necessary nutrients and can be easily added to your daily feeding.
HAVE YOU EXPERIENCED THIS PROBLEM WITH YOUR DOG?
Sign up for our newsletter and receive more articles and the latest pet health updates and special offers.
Janice Huntingford, DVM, has been in veterinary practice for over 30 years and has founded two veterinary clinics since receiving her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph. She has studied extensively in both conventional and holistic modalities. Ask Dr. Jan