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Dachshund anal glands - anal sac disease, expression, and scooting
2004/6/10 21:10
From New York City
Posts: 1383
As unpleasant a topic as it is, I thought I would post some information on anal glands and expression. If you've got the "butt scootch," then you should read this:

The PetStuff Online Newsletter
Volume 1 Issue 9 October 8, 1999
Produced by Dr Dan

"Anal Sac Disease - Scooting"

Ever been disgusted by your dog or cat rubbing its' bottom across the carpet? Chances are it was having problems with its' anal sacs. This a very common problem in both dogs and cats.

What are the anal sacs and what is their purpose?
The archaic anal sacs are an organ of the past and have no purpose in modern pets. The anal sacs are paired organs located beneath the skin and anal sphincter muscles at about the five and seven o'clock positions surrounding the rectum (See the first image below). Tiny ducts lead to the tissue just inside the rectum. The secretion that comes from these glands is brown in color and about the consistency of water or oil. The secretion has a very disagreeable odor to humans. As the pet defecates, the anal sphincter squeezes the sacs against the hard passing feces and causes the anal secretion to discharge onto the fecal mass. In olden times, this was used to mark a unique scent on the BM. It was like a sign-post used to communicate with the other dogs and cats.

Why so many problems?
You will notice in the above description that the anal sphincter must squeeze the sac against hard feces to express the contents. My idea of why modern pets have so many problems is that the feces are just not hard enough. In ancient times, dogs and cats ate large quantities of meat and bone making their feces the consistency of concrete. Now, we feed diets with vegetable protein as the main ingredient. This produces a much softer stool so there is nothing for the glands to be squeezed against. The secretions build up and the pet has problems.

The degree of problems
When the fluid begins building up and the animal scoots to try to relieve the pressure we have signs of an impaction. Treatment at this point will save the pet from more serious problems later on. This is why the anal sacs should always be checked by the veterinarian or groomer whenever working with the pet. If the secretion stays in the sacs for very long it begins to thicken and become like peanut butter in consistency. At this point it is very difficult to be expressed and subject to bacterial invasion and abscessation. Once an abscess forms and there is no route of escape for the secretion and pus it may rupture through the skin causing an unsightly mess and lots of pain for the pet (See the second image below). This is a situation we want to avoid.

Expressing the anal glands

Normally the anal sacs are about the size of a kidney bean and difficult to feel beneath the skin surrounding the rectum. As they become impacted they increase in size until they feel like grapes or walnuts beneath the skin. It is at this stage that they should be expressed. Since the secretion smells so bad, it is a good idea to do this at bath time. To express the normal glands you just put a finger on each side of the rectum on the outside edges of the anal sacs. You then press towards the rectum, up and inward to trap the sacs. If a fluid is not expressed then you need assistance from your veterinarian. The secretion may have thickened or you haven't mastered the technique.

If the secretion is inspisated (thickened) your veterinarian may need to give a sedative and pass a catheter into the duct of the gland. The anal sac is filled with water and worked until the secretion can be removed. Often times the sacs are then filled with an antibiotic ointment to kill the infection. If the gland has abscessed and broken out to the skin surface the wound must be debrided and flushed with an antiseptic solution daily until the wound heals from the inside out. This is painful, costly and dangerous. Systemic antibiotics must also be used when the glands have abscessed.

Removal of the anal sacs

If your pet has recurring problems with its' anal sacs the best treatment is the surgical removal of the gland. This is accomplished by first given a general anesthetic and then filling the gland with a synthetic gel which makes them easier to find. Incissions are made and the glands are removed. The surgical incisions are closed with suture material.

Parting words...
If your pet is scooting there has to be a reason. Look for feces stuck to the hair or the evidence of tapeworms or roundworms. If you find neither then it's time to have your veterinarian check the anal sacs. Anal sac problems are extremely common and can cause tremendous pain for your pet. Early treatment can save lots of money for and spare your pet of much discomfort.

Have Pet Questions? Visit Dr Dan's New Bulletin Board!
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Posted on: 2005/3/6 12:15

Edited by cleo on 2005/3/6 12:16:48
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Re: Dachshund anal glands - anal sac disease, expression, and scooting
2004/6/10 21:10
From New York City
Posts: 1383
More on anal gland expression:

There are two common methods which can be referred to as the "external" and "internal" methods.

With the external method we express the anal glands by placing a paper towel (or something similar) against the glands (which can be felt with the fingers - they feel like "grapes" under the skin) and gently pressing on them to get them to express.

With the other method of expressing the anal glands, called the "internal" method, we first put a latex exam glove on and lubricate the index finger with KY jelly. Then the index finger is gently inserted in the anus and we isolate the gland between the index finger and thumb. Then we gently squeeze the gland from both sides (inside and outside)to express the secretion.

Veterinarians typically will use the internal method as this method allows more of the secretion from the gland to be expressed than with the external method. If you are uncomfortable with the prospect of the internal method, then the external should suffice.

Posted on: 2005/3/6 12:20

Edited by cleo on 2005/3/6 12:23:23
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Re: Dachshund anal glands - anal sac disease, expression, and scooting
Friend of Hotdog Blog!
2005/1/31 7:53
From Isle of Wight, England
Registered Users
Posts: 4070
Both my sister Heather and brother Ridley have problems with their anal glands. As the stuff won't come out naturally, they have suffered from anal abscesses. No there is nothing more gross than these. Double yuk! But with a gentle touch, a vet can empty what is left of the abscess, and a course of antibiotics seems to do the trick. Now both of them go to the vet once in a while, and have their glands expressed. Mum is not prepared to do it.... as they are both wimps and scream when it is done.

Posted on: 2005/4/8 15:40
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