Anal sacs, as the name suggests, are messy things.
These sacs sit either side of the anus – at 4 and 8 O’Clock, and secrete a foul smelling, oily substance. This unique odour secreted onto the poo helps dogs demarcate their territory and identify themselves. This is the reason we sometimes see dogs sniffing each others bums as a strange way of saying hello – they are smelling to see if they will recognise each other.
The anal glands do cause many problems, however. Signs such as bum scooting or licking (or nibbling) around the back end can be a sign of a problem anal gland.
The narrow duct which carries the secretion from the sac to the anal sphincter can get blocked and the anal sac can become impacted. This can lead to the anal sac becoming an abscess, which can sometimes rupture through the skin. Sometimes we may need to lance an abscess if present and flush out the contents before starting on antibiotics and anti – inflammatories if required.
Some dogs are prone to repeat problems with their anal glands. This calls for more in depth action and work up. We commonly start with feeding a higher quality food or adding some fibre to the diet – such as carrot, pumpkin, or psyllium husks. We may also express the anal glands regularly – this can be done at home if we have a willing participant who doesn’t mind getting their hands dirty.
How to Recognise Anal Sac Problems
If your dog is scooting, or licking or nibbling around the back end, they may be experiencing anal sac problems. Please feel free to discuss any symptoms your dog may have.