What is it?
• In dogs in cats, the anal sacs at small pouches that are located under the skin near the anus
• The anal glands secrete a thick, oily, strong-smelling liquid used in wild cats and dogs to mark territory
• Anal sacs are typically drained during defecation, or can be emptied voluntarily (although usually this only occurs when the animal is frightened)
• Animals with allergies are more prone to this issue
What causes it?
• Because this use is significantly reduced in domestic animals, often these sacs 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, as 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