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Dogs have two small sacs located at the 5 o'clock and 7 o'clock positions on the anus. The walls of the anal sacs contain glands that secrete a thin, smelly substance thats squeezed out, or expressed, during defecation to mark the feces and identify the pet. If the sacs dont empty properly or if the secretions become too thick, the anal sacs become impacted. One or both sacs may be affected. Left untreated, a simple impaction can lead to a painful infection or abscess.

Risk Factors and Detection
Anal sac disease is common in dogs, particularly smaller breeds. The cause is unknown, but chronically loose or small stools, poor muscle tone, or excessive secretions may be contributing factors.

If your dog scoots her bottom on the floor, she may have anal sac impaction or disease. Other signs include the following:

  • excessive licking of the anal area
  • difficulty defecating
  • swelling or pain of the anal area
  • fever
  • bloody stools
  • an open, draining wound near the anus
  • a strong, foul odor

If your dog shows any of these signs, take her to your veterinarian immediately.

Your veterinarian will do a rectal examination and express material from the anal sacs. Abnormal secretions may appear thick and dark brown, a creamy yellow-green, or even bloody. These signs may help your veterinarian choose an appropriate treatment.

Treatment and Prevention
The impacted material can be removed from the anal sac. Depending on the severity, your veterinarian may put antibiotic ointment into the sac and prescribe oral antibiotics for your dog. The doctor also may ask you to apply warm compresses to your dogs rectal area and return for weekly rechecks until the problem improves.

If your veterinarian finds an unruptured abscess, she will likely sedate or anesthetize your dog, lance the abscess, drain the infected material, and flush the area with an antiseptic solution. A ruptured abscess also requires flushing. Anytime an abscess develops, your veterinarian will prescribe oral antibiotics and instruct you to keep the wound clean and, if possible, open and draining for a few days. She also may recommend soaking the area in a bathtub once or twice a day.

To prevent recurring problems, your veterinarian may recommend regular expression of the anal sacs. The doctor can do this, but he or she also can teach you to do it. Some dogs may benefit from a high-fiber food to improve fecal consistency and increase stool volume. As a last resort, your veterinarian may surgically remove the sacs to prevent recurring infections.