Anal Sac Disease in Dogs

If your dog is having a hard time passing stools or is 'scooting' along the ground, they may have anal sac disease. Here, our Jacksonville vets explain how dogs get anal sac disease, how you can recognize it, and how to treat it.

Anal Glands in Dogs

Your dog's anal glands are situated at about 2 o'clock and 10 o'clock beside their anus. Both male and female dogs have these glands that release a foul-smelling secretion believed to play a role in territory marking. When your dog passes a bowel movement the anal sacs release some of the fluid onto the stool, giving it an odor unique to your dog, and providing other dogs with clues to your pup's diet and identity.

Dog Anal Gland Abscesses & Impactions

While lots of dogs go through life without experiencing any health problems related to their anal glands, others can be plagued with recurring anal sac diseases such as impactions or abscesses.

When a dog's anal sacs become plugged they are said to be impacted.

When a dog has impacted anal sacs the fluid within the impacted sacs starts to thicken, making the sacs swollen and sore, and as a result, the dog experiences pain when attempting to pass a bowel movement. 

Blocked anal sacs produce an ideal breeding ground for bacteria. Once your dog develops impacted anal glands abscesses may begin to form due to bacteria traveling up from the feces and entering your pup's anal sacs causing a buildup of pus.

Anal gland abscesses in dogs can be seen as swollen, red, and painful areas on both sides of your dog's anus. If anal abscesses aren't treated they can spread infection and cause severe damage to your pooch's rectum or anus. If the abscesses burst they will release a greenish-yellow or bloody fluid.

How Dogs Get Anal Gland Problems

While anal gland problems can be seen in dogs of any breed or size they tend to be more common in small breeds.

There are a number of reasons why your dog could be suffering from anal gland issues. Some of the most common include:

  • Genetics
  • Not enough fiber in their diet
  • Obesity
  • Food allergies and sensitivities
  • Chronic soft stool or diarrhea
  • Environmental allergies or sensitivities
  • Chronic skin dermatitis

Signs of Anal Gland Problems In Dogs

If your dog's anal glands have become painful, impacted, or abscessed they may exhibit one or a combination of these symptoms:

  • Difficulties passing stool
  • Repeatedly or excessively licking or itching the anal area
  • 'Scooting', dragging bottom along the floor or ground
  • Blood or pus near dog's rectum
  • Signs of blood or pus in the stool

Treating Anal Gland Disease In Dogs

Call your vet if your dog is displaying one or more symptoms of anal sac disease. The treatment for your dog's anal gland issues will depend on the severity of the problem and whether it is a repeated health concern for your dog.

Your dog's treatment may include: 

  • Dietary changes to increase fiber
  • Pain medications
  • Supplements may be recommended such as fish oil
  • Antibiotics may be prescribed
  • Your vet may express the anal glands helping to relieve pressure
  • Surgery

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Contact our Jacksonville vets as quickly as you can if your dog is exhibiting signs of anal sac disease, to schedule an examination for your canine companion.