Anal sacs (also called anal glands) are two small glands located just inside your pet’s rectum. The material secreted into these sacs is a thick liquid, which is typically oily, stinky, and “fishy”. While many wild animals can empty these glands voluntarily for scent marking, dogs and cats are less able to empty these sacs voluntarily. While normal defecation help help to empty the sacs, some animals become unable to empty their sacs on their own. These sacs can become impacted and uncomfortable.
The most common signs that dogs with full anal glands will demonstrate are scooting their rear across the ground or licking excessively around their tailbase. Cats frequently will lick all the hair off under or around their tails. Other signs can include shaking, holding tails down, reluctance to walk or hiding.
If your pet’s anal glands are filling and causing discomfort, they should be emptied. This can be done in one of two ways. With an external expression, the anal glands are squeezed from the outside of the rectum and the liquid is expressed. With thicker anal gland liquid or an infection, however, this method may be insufficient to completely empty the glands. The ideal way to express anal glands is by internal expression. With this technique, a finger is inserted into the rectum and the sac itself is squeezed to allow full expression of the anal gland liquid.
If anal glands are filling and are not expressed when needed, they can fill to the point of rupture and cause an anal gland abscess. These require drain placement and antibiotic/pain therapy to heal.
If your pet has an anal gland infection or abscess, that is a problem that would need to be addressed by a doctor. For regular and routine anal gland expression, appointments can be set up with our technicians for a full internal expression to relieve any issues your pet may be having. If you are concerned that your pet may be suffering from anal gland issues, please give us a call today!