Within the anus of a dog lie two anal glands, also known as anal sacs. Considered an imperative part of your dog’s digestive health, the filling of anal sacs, with foul smelling, pasty discharge, is a signal your dog may require medical attention. With anal sac impaction, abscesses form resulting in the need for anal sacculectomy, or removal of the sacs altogether. Understanding the importance of anal sac care, signs of canine anal sac complications and the risks and benefits of surgery will provide your dog with a more happy and healthy life.
Anal sacs, found within the anus of the dog, are in integral part of the fecal continence control and anal muscle constricture of dog. In normal digestion, the anal sacs work to promote digestive constriction and passing of feces through the anus. Periodically, under normal health conditions, the anal sacs may become impacted and require routine and regular anal sac emptied by a non-invasive procedure in which slight pressure is placed on the sac, removing the impaction and fluid.
In situations where anal sac glands are not expressed, or remain impacted, the development of an abscess may occur. Symptoms of a canine anal abscess include bleeding, swelling, redness and the all to infamous “scooting” dogs so often do which leads the dogowner to believe worms are involved. Unfortunately, the development of a canine anal abscess is quite severe and requires the use of antibiotics to resolve.
In cases where the dog develops an abscess or several anal sac impaction, an anal sacculectomy may be required. This procedure, while relatively minor, involves the removal of the anal sac glands and should be performed by a veterinarian who specializes in this type of canine surgery. The adverse impact of canine anal sacculectomy involves permanent muscle and nerve distortion of the anus. As a result, your dog may lose some ability to control bowel movements and passing of feces may be complicated. While the anal sacs are not believed to provide any benefit to the dog, the implication of nerve and muscle sphincter damage, following anal sacculectomy, is of concern. Following the surgery, your dog will require standard post-operative care including management of bowel and bladder control for approximately one week in addition to administration of antibiotics.
For many dogs, the pain associated with impacted anal sac glands is significant. For this reason, your dog may begin “scooting”, chasing his own tail or biting, uncontrollably, at the anal area. For optimal canine health, the anal sacs should be expressed regularly and, preferably, by a professional dog groomer or veterinarian. In cases where expression of the sacs is not successful, or results in the development of infections and abscess, consider removal of the anal sacs as this may be in the best interest of your pup.