Every so often a dog owner comes in saying that their pet has been scooting around the house and licking their bum. These symptoms are commonly mistaken for being associated with worms when in actuality they are usually a result of irritated anal glands. To learn about what can go wrong with anal glands, we first have to know the proper function of them.
Cats and dogs have two anal glands – one on either side of the rectum. If you picture looking at a clock, the anal glands are located at the 4 and 8 positions. The anal glands naturally filled with a material that has a very distinct smell. In the wild, animals with anal glands will express them to mark with their scent. Domesticated cats and dogs usually empty the material with each bowel movement as the stool applies pressure to the gland.
Sometimes the glands do not empty naturally and have to be manually expressed by a Vet Tech at your vet clinic. If the glands are not emptying on their own, it is important to have them emptied before they become impacted and potentially rupture. Typically, a ruptured and/or infected anal gland is flushed out with an antibacterial solution to aid in healing. The pet is then put on antibiotics and pain medications to keep them comfortable. Most pets want to lick the area and therefore are sent home with the cone of shame to prevent this. The Veterinarian may want to recheck the anal gland after the course of antibiotics to ensure that it is healing.
In rare cases when the anal glands have recurring issues, the Veterinarian may recommend an anal saculectomy or the removal of the anal glands. If this is the case, you and your pet may be referred to a specialist for the surgery to be done.
Monitoring your pet’s habits and keeping notes can be helpful to your Vet in making a diagnosis. If you notice that your pet is having issues with bowel movements and is bothering at their hind end, do not hesitate to bring them into your Vet. Having medical attention as soon as possible can help keep your pet comfortable and healthy.
Written by Liz Espejo, RAHT