What should I do if my dog’s anal sac does not empty properly?

April 13, 2012

Some people who have owned dogs for years do not know about the dog’s anal sacs. Are you aware that your pet has these things called anal glands? Anal sacs are found on each side of the anus. These sacs take the 4 o’clock and the 8 o’clock positions a little bit below the anal opening. These sacs serve as storage for the oily secretion of the glandular tissue. All predators are believed to have anal glands. The anal gland secretion though would serve the animals differently. A skunk for instance would use the smelly secretion as a form of self defense. In the case of the dog, the anal gland secretion serves as the dog very own and distinctive identification as secretions would be unique to every dog. Notice how dogs would raise the tail in the presence of other dogs. This action will allow a small amount of the oily fluid to secrete. The anal gland secretion is used in territorial marking. Dogs are seen sniffing at the ground, at the lamp post or at fences and walls. Through the scent of the urine or the poop, the dog is actually identifying who has been marking the territory.

Normally, a dog owner would have no business emptying the anal glands of the pet. Anal glands are generally emptied when the dog defecates. The anal sacs have small tubes that open directly to the anus. When the dog defecates, the pressure created by the passing of the stool will cause the secretion to leak. However, there are instances when the sacs are not emptied. Diarrhea is the common reason why the normal secretions of the anal sacs are prevented. The soft and watery stool the dog passes would not be sufficient to empty the sacs. Recurring bouts of diarrhea would get the anal sacs impacted. The opening of the ducts leading to the anus can be plugged up with an abnormally thick secretion. Anal gland infection is another reason why the sacs would not empty properly. Bacteria can migrate to the glands through the ducts and cause infection. Obese and geriatric dogs are prone to impacted anal glands because of weaker muscle tone of the anal sphincter.

Dogs with impacted anal gland would be in pain. The pet would be seen scooting or rubbing its behind on the ground, on the grass and on the carpet in an effort to empty the sacs. The dog would be seen licking and scratching its anal area. A small amount of the anal gland secretion will leak when the dog scoots. The secretion would be smelly. Something must be done to help the pet not only because the smell of the anal gland secretion on the carpet would be horrible but also because the condition would affect the health of the pet when the impaction develops to abscesses.

Anal gland can be emptied by a groomer or by a vet. The dog owner can also empty the anal glands of the pet. Expressing the anal gland can be done externally. Visualize the position of the gland. With the thumb and the forefinger on each side of the anus, the skin over the location of the glands must be pushed gently but firmly in an upward motion. In the internal expression method, a gloved index finger has to be inserted inside the anal sphincter to push the contents of the sack upwards or towards the opening. This process is best done by a vet or a professional groomer. Expressing anal glands is a messy and smelly task. While the sac is being expressed, the smelly gland secretion can come out in spurts. The person doing the task can be sprayed by the smelly fluid thus it is necessary to cover the anal area with paper towels.

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