Anal Sac Disease in Dogs and Cats
One of the more common clinical complaints presented with in small animal practice is when clients are perplexed with why their dog or cat is rubbing their anus along the carpets (often referred to as scooting), or licking excessively around that area. By far the biggest cause of that is some sort of anal gland impaction or infection. The anal glands or anal sacs are located at 4 and 8 o’clock to the sides of the anal opening (if the anal opening is viewed as a clock).
The function of these glands is not really known, although they normally release their contents during normal bowel movements, or when an animal is frightened. In some pets, these glands can become blocked leading to impaction, infection/abscessation and occasionally rupture. That’s why it is important for any animal guardian who observes their pet rubbing their anus along the ground excessively, or the persistence of an unusual rotten fish-like odor or bloody discharge from the area to see their veterinarians as soon as possible to evaluate their pet for anal sac disease.
Sometimes just manual expression by the veterinarian is enough to cure the problem, but other times pets are prone to relapses to varying degrees. In those cases, some veterinarians will flush the anal sacs out under anesthesia, while as a last resort some veterinarians will surgically remove the anal sacs, which can on occasion have surgical complications such as the development of fecal incontinence.
While we are often asked what to do to prevent this annoying problem from occurring, there are no guaranteed answers that will always prevent problems. Some of the suggestions I will give clients include feeding as natural a diet as possible such as Wysong, adding extra fiber to the food through products like Vetasyl, as well as making sure their pet maintains an optimal weight and gets plenty of exercise to help promote anal sac emptying at the appropriate times.