Anal Sac Disease

What is it?

All dogs have an anal sac either side of their anus. These sacs are lined with glands that produce a foul smelling oily material that empties through tiny ducts just outside the opening to the anus. They are thought to function as scent glands. When dogs smell each others bottoms they are smelling for anal glands.

Why can they be a problem?

Certain dogs seem to get impacted anal glands. Causes include soft stools, thicker glandular secretions, obesity and poor muscle tone. In many cases the cause remains unknown. The impacted sacs can become infected leading to inflammation and pain and in severe cases abscessation.

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How can I tell that there is a problem?

How can it be treated?

Most anal sac problems can be treated conservatively. Regular squeezing of the anal sacs is all that is necessary in most cases. More severe cases may require flushing of the sacs under a general anaesthetic or oral antibiotics for abscessation. Most dogs with anal sac disease will benefit from a higher fibre content in their food and weight loss, although this just seems to reduce the frequency of attacks and not stop it completely.

Surgery is indicated for severe and recurrent cases, particularly with recurrent abscess formation. Surgery involves completely excising the anal sacs and their ducts. Surgery is difficult as the sacs are surrounded by the muscles of the anus which must be preserved. Complications are rare but may include faecal incontinence and continued rubbing at the surgery site scar tissue.

Should my dog have it’s anal sacs removed?

This is a decision best made on a case by case basis with the vet.

If you have any further questions feel free to call or just ask.

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