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Anal Sac Disease In Dogs – Symptoms And Treatments

Anal Sac Disease In Dogs

What Are Anal Sacs In Dogs?

Every time when you see your dog, he scoots his shaggy butt on a surface not meant for shaggy butt scooting.

The reason for this is ‘anal sacs’ – a sort of vestigial sacs that outlived their usefulness. The anal sacs are located on either side of the anus (at the 4 o’clock and 8 o’clock positions) connecting to the anus by means of small canals or ducts.

These sacs are sebaceous glands that produce a thick, malodorous fluid that smells fishy. These are similar to the glands that a skunks have for scent marking or in self-defense.

Most dogs use these for the same scent marking. They’re why dogs sniff each other’s butts! Every dog has a unique smell.

In one whiff - a dog would download all required information- name, grade, serial number and area of the depositor

When the sacs are not emptied properly due to impaction or infection (of anal sacs), the fluid builds up, solidifies, and results in several medical conditions.

How Will I Know If My Dog Has Anal Sac Problems?

Symptoms of anal sac disease are:

  • Scooting or dragging the butt along the ground
  • Dyschezia (painful defecation) and tenesmus
  • Abscesses, fistulous tracts (from abscessed sacs) and Induration
  • Excessive licking and biting of the anus or base of the tail
  • Tail chasing
  • A swollen area and/or bloody or sticky drainage either side of the anus with unpleasant, musky odour
  • Growl or snap if you touch the anus or tail.

How Is Anal Sac Disease In Dogs Treated?

Given that there’s no infection present, any dog owner can learn to empty the anal glands at home but most people leave it to a groomer or vet.

Expressing a dog’s anal sacs isn’t all that much fun because of the ick factor.

In layman terms, “expressing,” means squeeze the gunk out of the grape-sized sacs.

If the anal area has an open sore, appears thickened or red, inflamed, or if it is painful or uncomfortable- Let the professional handle the expression as there may be an abscess or infection present.

Antibiotics: Systemic antibiotics, such as Cephalexin, or Zeniquin or Clavamox, orally prescribed (e.g., clindamycin, brand name Cleocin, Antirobe) and sometimes may need to be flushed directly into the sacs (such as Panalog).

Most dogs will be prescribed pain relief medications until the inflammation and swelling have subsided.

  • Deracoxib (Deramaxx)
  • Carprofen (Rimadyl or Novox)
  • Firocoxib (Previcox)
  • Meloxicam (Metacam )
  • Tramadol

In extreme cases such as chronic anal sac problem, or a serious abscess, surgery may be necessary.

Home Remedies for Anal Sac Disease in Dogs

  1. Hot fomentation of either red clover (Trifolium pratense) blossoms or marigold flower (Calendula officinalis) , to soften the contents of the sacs.
    1. In a quart of boiling water, mix a tablespoon of the herbs.
    2. Soak a clean cloth in the mix until it’s just lukewarm enough to handle.
    3. Apply the wet washcloth to the Anus
    4. Re-warm and use it as required.
    5. Warming the area softens the tissue, increases blood flow and can make impacted sacs expressing much easier.
  2. Anal Glandz by Native Remedies is a Ready-to-use product. This concentrated tincture is an herbal remedy consisting of dandelion, annual nettle, German chamomile, silica and yarrow. This can be applied as a warm compress.

Prevention Of Anal Sac Disease in Dogs

Prevention is actually the name of the game..

Although Anal sac diseases are inheritable, for instance, smaller breeds are predisposed to anal diseases.

Common …this is pessimistic. just try to focus on the positive. Can we do anything-- to prevent it from happening to our dogs in the first place?

So, what healthy Anal sac diet for a pet looks like

In general, the breakdown looks like:

High Protein, Good Fats and Low Carbs

To the dog’s diet, add fiber via fiber supplements.

Add grains: Barley and oatmeals

Add prebiotics/probiotics to your dog’s diet

Add digestive enzymes to your dog’s diet (from herbs, seeds, and spices)

Dog Breeds Affected By Anal Sac Disease in Dogs

More common in small breeds, Chihuahua, Dachshund, Miniature Poodle, Toy Poodle, Basset Hound, Lhasa Apso, Large or giant breeds are rarely affected.

Anal Sac Disease in Dogs Facts

  • Anal sac diseases occur in male and female dogs with roughly an equal incidence.
  • They occur in any breed but are more common in smaller breeds.
  • Under normal circumstances, the anal sacs drain out the fluid during bowel movements on their own via a pair of ducts.
  • When the sac is not emptied and the stuck fluid becomes solidified, blocking the duct through which the fluid travels out.
  • Anal sac disease (ASD) includes quite a few specific disease entities, including Anal sac infection, anal sac impaction, anal sac abscess and anal sacculitis.
  • ASD can be broadly classified into two main categories: inflammation and neoplasia. The inflammatory form of ASD is relatively common in dogs, with the having a reported prevalence of 12.5 percent.
  • The reasons for anal gland problems may be poor diet, inflammation of anal canal (making it more difficult for all of the fluid to be removed), obesity (small anal gland ducts mean they may block more easily), skin disorders, tumors and infections.
  • Most of dogs, Anal sacs are the only site where Anal sac adenocarcinoma is found, but in some cases, they may spread to the lymph nodes or via the bloodstream to places like the spleen, liver, and lungs.

When To See A Vet

Pet owners may find it when the dog is being bathed or groomed or during a routine physical examination.

As the disease progresses, your dog’s anal area becomes inflamed, have open sore or you see pus around its anus, you should contact the vet.

The affected dog will usually lick excessively at its tail and rectal regions; there will be blood in the feces and strain during defecation.

Some dogs will appear agitated, gets aggressive if the tail or anus is touched, hesitant to sit, and some may not wag their tail normally

When your dog demonstrates any of these signs, contact your veterinarian.

Food Suggestion For Anal Sac Disease in Dogs

  • Commercial foods should have high-quality, natural ingredients, with no artificial additives.
  • Fresh, home cooked, balanced or raw food diet
  • Avoid DRY FOOD and go for fresh diet
  • Underground vegetables
  • Pureed pumpkin
  • Add fiber to your pup’s diet.
  • Increase water intake or install a pet water fountain.
  • Supplement prebiotics and probiotics formulated for pets.


Anal sacs are exhaust ports that might be a valuable evolutionary purpose to the distant dog ancestors but they do cause a lot of suffering to modern pets, owners and (let’s not forget) vets, don’t they?

It hardly seems sensible that, regardless of their location in a worthless part of the dog and their comparatively naive appearance under the microscope, the impaction or infection drives the dog mad and muck about with the metabolism.

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