Anal sacs, or anal glands, are something people may not know about at all, or at least wish they didn’t. However, these anatomical oddities may cause your dog or cat problems, so be prepared! If you’ve noticed your dog licking or biting at the base of their tail, scooting across your new rug, or a funky odor to them you might have anal sac problems. A Lincoln, NE animal clinic will break down why these sacs are there, what they do, how they can be a problem, and how to deal with them.
Anal sacs are located on either side of the anus at approximately the 4 and 8 o’clock positions. These sacs are lined with glands that secrete an oily, viscous, stinky substance. They empty into the anus via some small ducts. It is generally thought that as the cat or dog defecates, the stool expresses the glands to deposit some liquid with the stool. These sacs are the same type of thing that skunks use to spray with! As far as why these sacs exist, there’s not a concrete answer. It could be a defensive throwback from an ancestor that’s not necessary any more. Others think the scent could convey information to other animals as either a territorial marker or other information about their health or reproductive status.
Due to genetic factors, some animals produce different consistencies of this liquid. If your pet is one that produces a thicker, more paste-like product, then it is more likely to create a blockage in the duct. Problems can also arise from hyperactivity of the glands in the sac or muscle dysfunction in the anal sphincter. When the duct is blocked, the glad will become impacted and infected. This is often quite uncomfortable, if not painful. If left unnoticed, they can abscess and rupture.
While individual genetics can play a role in who has issues with this, there are a few other factors that can predispose a pet to anal sac problems. Generally, small dogs (under 20lbs), as well as basset hounds and beagles rank high on the list for pets with these issues. Treatment can be as simple as expressing the glands and using an antibiotic. Some cases respond better to an infusion of antibiotics directly into the sac. Once these issues start, they are more likely to reoccur. If your dog or cat has anal sac problems, it may be advised to have their sacs routinely expressed to prevent impaction. If the problem is chronic and dramatic enough, your veterinarian may recommend surgery to remove one or both sacs.
If you have questions or issues with your pet’s anal sacs, call your Lincoln, NE animal clinic today!