Anal Sac Problems in Dogs!

Gram and I seem to get into some really involved discussions and today was no different. Dog health and well being seems to be one topic we never get tired of talking about and we thought alerting people about anal sac problems might be a good idea.

Discussing anal sac problems in dogs is not a subject for dinner party conversation, but it is an important part of a dog’s well being.

Some dogs can go through life and never have a problem with these little glands and other dogs can suffer from a monthly problem.

Gram says if your usually fastidious dog constantly licking its anal area or you find him/her scooting across the carpet or grass, you may have an anal sac problem.

What are anal glands? Dogs have two anal sacs that are visible as pin sized openings at the 4 o’clock and 8 o’clock sides of the anus. In a small dog they are about the size of a pea and for a big dog the size of a kidney bean. For the most part they are never seen and really have no significant function except to distribute a smelly fluid, (a type of lubrication) when a dog defecates.

Some say their function is to help dogs mark their territory, but it is proven that dogs use their urine as a marking tool. As far as we know the anal glands may be a function of some prehistoric descendant of dogs, that had a use for them. Dogs of today can function very well without them. What problems can these glands cause? For the most part, the problems caused by the anal glands usually means a quick trip to the vet to have the glands squeezed and the fluid build up released. It is important if you see your dog scooting around the carpet or the grass outside you make an appointment with your vet for a check up. There is a possibility of small tumors, bacterial infections, abnormally shaped ducts and blocked ducts.

Some breeds such as poodles seem to more prone to anal sac problems as well as middle aged and older dogs, however some overweight dogs can have the problem also. Dogs fed foods high in fiber content, which normally produce soft runny stools are also candidates for this problem as they do not have to provide any force to defecate.

In general, a trip to the vet is required to relieve pressure and to be certain there are no other problems. Most dogs do not need to be sedated; however if the glands are impacted sedation is recommended.

It is said that you, the dog owner, can learn this procedure yourself, however Gram does not recommend it, for two very good reasons. First of all, the smell is overpowering when the glands are pressed and secondly you do not know if there is a medical problem or not.

Usually only one trip to the vet is required, however with some dogs and/or breeds it may be suggested that the glands be removed. Since it is really not known what their true function is and removal has not made an impact on any of the dogs who have had surgery. It might be the lesser of two evils to have it done, if you find yourself in the vet’s office too frequently.

Most dogs will live their entire lives without having any anal sac problems. But should your dog show any of the signs, it is important to take that trip to the vet just to be certain there are not any serious rectal or anal problems such as a tumor, gastrointestinal disease or a parasite infection.

Gram and I hope this information has been of some use to you and you will keep in mind what we have talked about should you see your dog “scooting” about.

Until next time, I remain

Your Sadie