Anal Glands of Dogs and Cats

The first thing that most people think when the words anal glands are mentioned is “Gross!”  These are small sacs located on either side of the rectum and are found in all carnivores – except bears and sea otters.  They secrete a terrible smelling liquid that is used to mark territory or for defense.  This is how a skunk can make the terrible smell which keeps people and predators at a distance.

So why do we care about anal glands?  Well, first of all they can be a simple cause of why your pet scoots his or her bottom on the ground.  If the glands become full, and your pet isn’t able to empty them, then they must be expressed manually.  This can be done externally or internally and will alleviate the pressure your pet is feeling.  If anal glands are not expressed and become impacted it can result in an abscess.  Anal gland abscesses are painful, terrible smelling and can affect a pet’s whole demeanor.  If you notice swelling around the rectum of your dog or cat, an exam is necessary.  Pets who have frequent infections may be candidates for anal sacculectomy – a surgery that removes the anal glands.  This is a delicate procedure and is typically reserved for severe cases.

A veterinarian should check your pet’s anal glands any time a rectal exam is done or if there are any concerns about defecation, straining or scooting.  Anal gland adenocarcinomas are aggressive, malignant cancers that can be found in dogs, and will only be found with internal examination.

If you have any questions about anal glands or your pet’s health, please contact us so we may help.


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