Anal Glands

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Filed in Dogs, Health

"Scooting" is often a result of impacted anal glands. The discomfort that your dog feels is temporarily relieved and soothed by licking that area or rubbing it against something -- usually the floor.

Anal sacs, or glands, are small pouches located on both sides of the anus of a cat or a dog. These sacs are filled with a brown, watery, foul-smelling secretion that is believed to have been used by wild animals to mark territory. The anal glands have no known useful function in modern domesticated pets.

Normally, anal glands are emptied when a dog or a cat has a bowel movement. Occasionally the sacs are suddenly expressed when an animal is frightened or stressed. This can be a particular unpleasant experience because of the obnoxious odor.

Medical problems with the anal glands can occur when the glands become full or the ducts inside the sacs become clogged. The result is an impacted anal gland. The causes the dog or cat a great deal of discomfort, and the pet will scoot or lick itself in an attempt to get some relief.

Sometimes an impacted anal gland becomes infected, forming a large, swollen, bloody pus-filled abscess that should be treated by a veterinarian.

Periodic expression of anal glands is important to keep them from becoming infected or abscessed. Most veterinarians recommend routine manual expression of the anal glands. This unpleasant job can be done by a veterinarian, animal health technician, groomer or someone who is trained in doing the procedure. However, improper emptying of the anal glands can force matter deeper into the tissues and cause additional problems.

If anal glands are severely impacted or infected, a veterinarian may find it necessary to anesthetize your pet to thoroughly empty the anal sacs and infuse them with medication.

In some chronic cases, the anal glands should be surgically removed.

Source: Ask the Vet, reprinted with permission by Pet Food Express. Ask the Vet is published by Veterinarian's Best, Inc., PO Box 4459, Santa Barbara, CA, 93103.

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