Dogs with Anal Sac Problems
By Charles Hopkins
Published 10/23/2007 | Pets and Animals
It is a common misconception that a dog needs worming when he is seen
to be biting his rear end, or scooting past on his bottom, the moment
you have friends over for coffee! The probable cause for this
discomfort (and embarrassment on your part!) is that the dog needs his
anal glands expressed.
The dog has two pea-sized anal sacs situated either side of the
anus, approximately at the seven and five o'clock positions. These sacs
contain a very strong smelling liquid, which is usually secreted when
the dog has a bowel movement. The feces when passing through the anus,
pushes against the anal sacs thus squeezing a little liquid out. This
liquid is thought to be a dog's 'calling card', this is why most dogs
tend to say 'hello' to each other by sniffing each others rear-ends!
Sometimes however, the bowel movement can be too soft to push
against the sacs and a build-up of liquid occurs. The anal sacs can
become over full and cause discomfort. Alternatively, the sacs can
become blocked and impossible to empty. If theses problems are ignored,
they do not go away. Abscises can form, infections can set in and
self-inflicted wounds occur due to severe biting, hair loss, coat
discoloration and obviously enormous discomfort and pain for the dog.
Sometimes all that is needed is a slight increase of fiber in the
diet of the dog, to harden the stools. However, there are other factors
that may contribute to the problem. The consistency of the liquid
produced by the glands may be naturally difficult to pass, the actual
conformation of the anus, or even obesity. Therefore sometimes a
helping hand is required!
Many groomers empty the dog's anal glands as a matter of form
during the bathing process. However, it is now believed that unless
requested by the owners, having learned from the vet that it is
necessary, it is best to leave the anal glands untouched, for once the
dog gets into a routine of having them emptied periodically, they will
always need manually emptying. It is important to note the color and
texture of the secretion to report to the owner so that they may seek
veterinary attention if they feel it is necessary. A black paste, pus
or blood present is not normal. Soreness when touched, inability with
ease to empty is a sign of blockage, any lumps around the anus should
be mentioned to the owner.
Usually, expressing the sacs externally is enough to relieve the
discomfort. This should not cause any pain to the dog and takes seconds
to do. Excessive squeezing and prodding must be avoided as damage to
the glands could occur. The vet may empty the sacs internally while
examining the dog. This is NOT for the groomer or owner to do.
If the problems persist, the vet may advise the removal of the
glands, as a last resort. They do not like undertaking this operation
as the muscles around the anus can weaken and sometimes become
permanently damaged. After the operation the dog usually feels great
discomfort for a considerable length of time.