anal sac information
Scooting, licking and smelling could be signs of an anal gland ailment. The anal sacs are located on each side of the anus, just under the skin. They open to the outside by tiny passageways or ducts. Glands within the anal sacs produce a dark, foul-smelling substance. The sacs normally empty as the animal has a bowel movement. Their purpose is unknown although one theory suggests that they were once used to mark territory. Today, however your pet can do well without them.
Expressing the Anal Glands
Your dog has a set of anal glands placed on either side of their anus. In the wild these glands secrete scent which your dog uses to mark its territory when it has a bowel movement.
For many reasons, sometimes these tear-shaped glands get blocked. This means that while more and more liquid is produced, none is being expressed into your dog's stools. Signs of blocked anal glands include bum scooting, bloomin stools, strong odour or a swollen anus.
Expressing your dog's anal glands is relatively easy. Use one hand to hold up the dog’s tail and pull it gently toward the head. Hold a disposable cloth or tissue in the other hand. Place your thumb externally over one anal gland and your fingers over the other (see the diagram below for correct position). Press in and apply firm pressure as you pull your fingers posteriorly over the glands. The glands should empty out into your tissue.
Normal anal sac fluid should come out slightly yellow or brown in colour. Impacted sacs will be very difficult to express and the material may be pasty and coloured grey or black.
1. Impaction: The anal sac fluid is abnormally thick and cannot escape.
2. Infection: Bacteria produce a yellow or bloomin pus. Infection may also exist in other areas, such as the eyes, ears, tonsils and/or skin.
3. Abscessation: As a result of infection, a hot, tender swelling near the anus may rupture and discharge pus and blood.
Signs of anal sac disease include "scooting" (dragging the anus on the floor), excessive licking under the tail, tenderness near the tail or anus, and/or bloomin or sticky drainage from the anal area.
Important Points in Treatment
1. Treatment for anal sac disease may include the following:
* Manual expression (squeezing) of the sac contents. (temporary relief)
* Flushing the sacs and instilling antibiotics into them. (longer remedy to symptoms)
* Surgical drainage or removal of the sacs. (This treatment is usually performed if the patient has a chronic history or the sacs have ruptured. Healing can be slow though because of the location.)
2. Medication must be given as directed.
3. Diet: A higher fibre diet can in some cases help slow impaction but check with your vet for your specific pet's nutritional needs.
Notify your Veterinarian if Any of the Following Occur:
* Your pet is reluctant to eat.
* Your pet is depressed or listless.
* There is a sudden swelling or drainage near the anus.
* Your pet constantly licks its anus.
* Your pet vomits.
Remember, squeezing the anal gland regularly will help minimize build-up and irritation but some material will undoubtedly still remain in the sacs causing the process to begin again. If you find your pet is always building up matter then you should talk to your vet about one of the other treatments for a longer remedy to the symptoms.
(summarized from Carlson & Giffin)
Normally, anal sacs are emptied when the dog defecates. Some dogs with overactive anal glands may require occasional help. Your vet can demonstrate the procedure.
A common indication of trouble with anal sacs is "scooting" (dragging the rear on the ground).
Impaction: occurs when the anal sacs fail to empty properly. This is more common in smaller breeds. Squeezing the sacs yourself as needed will control the problem.
Infection: complicates impaction. There is blood or pus in the secretions, and the dog may scoot (drag its rear on the ground). It may be painful. Check with your vet for an antibiotic you can apply after you empty the sacs.
Abscess: Signs of anal infection, with a swelling at the site of the gland. It goes from initially red to a deep purple. You will have to have it lanced and cleaned by the vet.
Dogs whose anal sacs become repeatedly infected and/or abscessed will need to have the glands removed. Surgery is uncomplicated, although the dog will have poor bowel control for the next few days after surgery. Try putting a pair of small boy's underpants, with the dog's tail through the third opening, on the dog to contain accidents.
Last edited by KayC; 11-08-2012 at 04:19 AM.