What is it?
• In both dogs and cats - anal sacs are small pouches, located under the skin, near the anus.
• Anal glands secrete a thick, oily, strong-smelling liquid. Dogs and cats that primarily live in the wild, use this to effectively mark their territory.
• Anal sacs are typically "drained" during defecation, or can be emptied voluntarily (although this usually only occurs when the animal is frightened).
• Animals with allergies are more prone to this issue.
What causes it?
• Because the use of this psrt of the body has significantly reduced in domesticated animals, these sacs often can become blocked, impacted, or infected.
• Although normal emptying of this liquid occurs with defecation, sometimes secretion within the impacted sacs will thicken and the sacs will become swollen and distended.
• The secreted material within the anal sacs is an ideal medium for bacterial growth, allowing abcesses to form.
• Scooting or dragging of the behind is a common clinical sign in both cats and dogs, that they are trying to relieve the irritation.
• Other symptoms may include licking, foul odor, fever, lethargy, depression, and lack of appetite.
What tests are needed?
• A rectal examination may be done to determine the fullness of the sacs, and to look for masses that could be tumors or hernias.
• If the anal sacs are infected, a bacterial culture may be performed.
• X-rays should be done before removal of any masses.
How is it treated?
• Very often uncomplicated impaction can be treated by simply expressing the sacs manually.
• If the sacs are infected, however, the animal must use antibiotics in addition to anal expression.
• In more severe cases, surgery may be required to drain the sacs and remove any abscesses or tumors.
What follow up care is needed?
• Typically, most impaction cases are resolved with therapy and do not require follow-up exams.
• Animals with infections may be re-assessed after 1 week of antibiotic therapy.
• It is important to make sure your animal has enough fiber in their diet and plenty of opportunities to defecate.