<< Back to listing

Anal Sac Disease in Dogs

The anal glands are 2 small glands situated on either side of the anus with small ducts that open just inside the anus. They are naturally expressed when your pet passes a motion or when they become excited or scared - there is some muscle around the gland which contracts and empties it. In most dogs you won't even know they are there, but some have problems that can be difficult to solve.

Diseases of Anal Glands

  • Impaction - if the opening of the duct become blocked due to loose stools or stools decreased in volume and the gland is not expressed naturally during defaecation. Sometimes impaction leads to an inflammatory condition in the anal sac
  • Sacculitis - infection in the gland
  • Abscessation may then follow sacculitis - this is evidenced by a painful swelling beside the anus sometimes with a draining sinus.
  • Neoplasia (cancer) can also occur

Therapy for Anal Gland problems

  • Impaction: gentle manual expression is required. This can be done by the thumb and fore finger on either side of the anus and applying gentle inward pressure. A more effective method performed by Vets is internal expression where the index finger is inserted in the rectum, the anal sac located and expressed with the thumb. This should settle the problem and preventative measures begun { ie a higher fibre diet to promote volume in the faeces hopefully natural expression of the sacs during defaecation. Recurrent impaction may be due to underlying disease processes, eg skin allergy, and these may need to be investigated further. Routine expression of anal gland should be avoided as irritation and inflammation of the gland will occur.
  • Saccultitis - expression is performed but treatment of probable bacterial infection is often required. This can be achieved by either by infusions into the sac or systemic antibiotics at the discression of a Veterinary Surgeon
  • Abcesstion - if the abscess is open then flushing is useful. Other wise hot packing will help to stimulate the abscess to a point at which time they can be lanced by a Veterinarian. Antibiotics can be infused into the abscess however systemic antibiotics are often required.

    If any of these problems keep recurring and preventative and medical options have been explored then surgical removal of the glands may become an option. This is a useful procedure. Although not common, complications can occur (faecal incontinence and infection) so all options of treatment should be attempted before surgery. 
    Neoplasia (cancer) of the anal sacs is another reason for surgery. Older female dogs are the main group effected by anal sac tumour (adenocarcinoma). These are a malignant tumour and recurrence after removal is common.

Prevention of Anal Gland porblems

  • Diet - a diet with good amounts of fibre seems to help with the emptying of the glands at defaecation by increasing the bulk of the faeces. Your Vet can detail how to do this in your dog's diet
  • Parasite Control - It seems there are cases when tapeworm segment can block the duct of the anal gland leading to impaction. Regular worming that covers tapeworm and good flea control is important to achieve this.
  • Early Recognition - don't wait until the anus is abscessed before seeing the Vet! If your dog is scooting or constantly licking at the area, contact you Vet