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Anal Sac Disease

Anal sacs, also called anal glands, are located within a pet’s rectal area, between the internal and external sphincter muscles. These glands are sometimes referred to as “scent glands,” because they excrete a clear discharge when an animal defecates. This discharge has a scent that is unique to each individual and allows canines to identify one another.

Anal sac disease occurs when these glands become disturbed by tumors or are otherwise obstructed, constricted, or irritated, though cats most frequently experience the disease when these glands become impacted. Anal gland problems are relatively common in canines and occur most frequently in smaller breeds, namely Chihuahuas, Miniature Poodles, and Toy Poodles. Most problems with the anal glands are not life threatening, but anal gland disease can quickly worsen if left untreated. If you witness your pet exhibiting any indicative symptoms, a veterinary exam is recommended to check for any existing infection.

What are signs that indicate anal gland disease? 

  • Chasing tail endlessly
  • Exhibiting discomfort or pain when sitting down
  • Frequently scooting their bottom across the floor
  • Having difficulty defecating
  • Leaning to one side to avoid sitting on their bottom
  • Licking or biting at their bottom, attempting to relieve pain

How is anal sac disease treated?

After a thorough examination and diagnosis, a veterinarian or veterinarian technician will perform a manual expression of the anal glands. During the expression, if the vet or vet tech notices that a more serious infection is present, the anal glands will be doused in a sterile saline solution, and an antibiotic ointment will be applied to the affected areas.

If your pet has frequent reoccurrences of anal gland infections, the veterinarian may teach you how to express their anal glands on your own. This can prevent frequent veterinary visits and allows you to perform expression the second you notice your pet suffering.

For pets with ongoing infections, we might suggest combining anal gland expression with preventative treatment methods which can include implementing a weight management program, increasing fiber intake, and for more extreme cases, surgical removal of the anal sacs and any present tumors; though most affected pets respond well to non-surgical treatment methods. The veterinarian will inform you of any instance that sedation or anesthesia is necessary to perform treatment.

If you have any questions about anal sac disease, please contact our office at your convenience.