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Aiding Dogs with Anal Gland Issues


Aiding Dogs with Anal Gland Issues

The anal glands, or anal sacs, are two small pouches situated on either side of a dog’s anus -- approximately at the two o’clock and ten o’clock positions. Present in both males and females, the sacs’ walls are lined with sweat glands that produce and store a foul-smelling fluid that is subsequently released through small ducts located just inside the anus.


Whenever a dog defecates, the anal sacs release some of their fluid onto his stool, giving it an odor that’s unique to him and providing other dogs with clues as to his identity and diet. Used historically as territorial markers by today’s domesticated dogs’ ancestors, some dogs may actually release or “express” the entire contents of their anal glands whenever they’re either overly excited or extremely frightened.


Whereas many dogs slide smoothly through life without any anal gland-related issues, many others may be plagued with recurrant anal sac problems such as impactions, abscesses, ruptures or tumors.


Some of the most common reasons that dogs suffer from anal gland issues include chronically soft stool or diarrhea, chronic skin dermatitis, environmental allergies or sensitivities, food allergies and sensitivities, genetics, insufficient fiber in their diet and obesity.


Impaction occurs when the duct leading from the anal gland to the anus becomes clogged, and as it fills up with an ever-thickening liquid, the gland becomes distended. As the gland distends, the pressure inside of it increases, causing the dog a great deal of discomfort. The most common signs that your dog’s anal gland is impacted include excessive licking and cleaning of his anal area; a reluctance to sit; difficulty defecating and “scooting” or dragging his anus along the carpet or floor. Should your dog be exhibiting any or several of these signs, bring him to the vet and have his anal glands expressed manually. This simple procedure will swiftly relieve the pressure inside the gland, thereby re-opening the clogged duct.


Sometimes, however, the first sign that a dog’s in pain occurs when the anal gland’s impacted secretions become infected. This causes pus to accumulate inside the gland, and the result is an abscess. If the pus can’t pass through the duct leading from the gland towards the anus, it will simply “burrow” through the skin around the anus. In some cases, the pus will actually burst through the skin, draining out on its own and typically releasing a greenish-yellow or bloody fluid.


If an anal gland ruptures, it often causes severe skin damage to the affected area. In order to treat it, your vet will typically anesthetize your dog and then thoroughly cleanse and surgically trim and/or remove all of the damaged skin. To reduce the size of the wound and promote faster healing, several stitches may be required. If, on the other hand, an abscess is diagnosed before the gland ruptures, your vet will lightly sedate or fully anesthetize your dog, lance the abscess and prescribe a course of antibiotics for him.


If your dog suffers from recurrent anal gland problems, he may benefit from a high-fiber diet. The added fiber helps to produce bulkier stools which, in turn, increases the pressure on his anal glands when he defecates and allows them to be expressed more efficiently. Supplements such as fish oil may also be recommended.


Because overweight dogs are more prone to anal gland disorders, keep your dog at a healthy weight to help reduce his chances of incurring these problems. On rare occasions, dogs suffering from repeated impactions and/or abscesses may need to have their anal glands surgically removed.


Older dogs can develop cancer of the glands or anal gland adenocarcinoma. And because its symptoms often mimic those of an anal gland abscess, such as bleeding, inflammation, pain, swelling and ulceration of the skin around the anus, it’s vital to have your older dog examined by a vet as quickly as possible. While the preferred treatment is surgically removing the cancerous anal gland, these tumors tend to be aggressive, and by the time a diagnosis is made, the cancer, sadly, has often spread to other parts of the dog’s body.



 

Article by Nomi Berger. Nomi is the bestselling author of seven novels, one work of nonfiction, two volumes of poetry, and hundreds of articles. She lives in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and has been writing as a volunteer for animal rescue groups in Canada and the U.S.A. since 2013.


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