Contents of Article
What is Anal Sac Infection and Anal Sac Impaction in dogs?
Diet, lack of exercise, illness and more can all contribute to the growing problem of impacted anal glands in today’s dog. However, there are several things that can be done to help relieve and prevent impaction and infection of the anal glands.
The anal sacs, or anal glands, are two small glandular structures located around the base of the anus. In normal and healthy glands, substances are secreted to allow for scent marking of stool as well as to help lubricate and easily pass stool when your dog has a bowel movement. Bowel movements that are normal and solid will help stimulate the anal glands to release their contents.
Poor diet, breeding history, stool quality and more can all impact how the anal glands secrete substance. In cases of impaction, the anal glands do not properly empty and become filled with material. This can present a painful and smelly problem for your dog, leading to habits such as licking or chewing around the anus, scooting the bottom, and having a “fishy” smelling odor when noticed by people. Severe impactions may even prevent your dog from being able to have a normal bowel movement, leading to constipation.
Anal gland infections occur when the anal sacs become infected with bacteria either due to prolonged impaction or other causes leading to the formation and growth of bacteria in the glands. This is usually a very painful experience for a dog, who will show symptoms such as swelling and redness around the anal glands, scooting or appearing hunched and painful when anything comes into contact with the back end, and malformed or even non-existent bowel movements.
Can I prevent my dog from having Anal Sac problems?
Diet and even manual expression of anal gland material can help to keep the sacs functioning normally. Stools that are too soft or too hard may fail to stimulate the glands to empty, leading to impaction. Feeding a diet or supplement that helps your dog have normal bowel movements may help keep his or her anal glands in order. Many veterinarians and technicians will also happily show owners how to manually express the anal glands on their own, so owners can express the glands as frequently as needed to prevent infection or severe impaction from forming.
What should I do If my dog has Anal Sac issues?
If your dog has shown the above symptoms related to anal gland issues, it is a good idea to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian. Your vet will also likely recommend bringing in a sample of your dog’s stool as internal parasites can have similar symptoms to anal gland issues in dogs. A stool sample in addition to a thorough exam will help determine if anal gland issues are to blame.
In simple and minor impactions, all that is required is expression of the anal glands and some cleaning of the area to remove any odor or remaining debris. If the impaction is a one-time thing, no further care may be needed. If the anal glands continue to become impacted, your vet may recommend changing diet or supplementation products to try and alleviate symptoms, or may show you how to express the glands on your own.
In cases of infection, further treatment is needed including a course of antibiotics to clear up any infection. Your vet may also need to manually remove and pus or buildup in the glands, and may place a drain in more severe cases to allow bacteria and debris to naturally drain during treatment. In cases of chronically infected or even severely impacted anal glands, surgical removal of the glands may be recommended. Most dogs do very well recovering from this surgery, however the surgery is usually recommended as a last resort option in the hopes that the anal glands can return to normal function. Dogs with removed anal glands may require supplements such as laxatives or lubricants t help aid bowel movements without the natural substances provided from the anal glands.
Natural Remedies for treating Anal Sac Impactions in dogs
Some natural supplements and herbal remedies are available to help relieve anal sac impaction and allow for normal function. These include Horsetail, an astringent and diuretic, plain Yogurt to provide a natural probiotic to balance the stool or pureed Pumpkin to provide natural fiber and laxative support. Supporting the entire body through a balanced diet as well as providing immune boosters such as Garlic and Echinacea to support immunity can all help to relieve chronic or acute anal sac issues.