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PetStuff Online Newsletter
Volume 1 Issue 9 October 8, 1999
Produced by Dr Dan
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Sac Disease - Scooting"
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
The degree of
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
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
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.
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.
October 17th - Feline Leukemia Disease - AIDS of the Cat World
October 24th - Antifreeze Can Kill Your Pet!
Breeds Recognized by AKC
The following new combination
dog breeds are now recognized by the AKC:
Collie + Lhasa Apso
Collapso, a dog that folds up for easy transport
Spitz + Chow Chow
Spitz-Chow, a dog that throws up a lot
Pointer + Setter
Poinsetter, a traditional Christmas pet
Malamute + Pointer
Moot Point, owned by....oh, well, it doesn't matter anyway
Great Pyrenees + Dachshund
Pyradachs, a puzzling breed
Pekingnese + Lhasa Apso
Peekasso, an abstract dog
Irish Water Spaniel + English Springer Spaniel
Irish Springer, a dog fresh and clean as a whistle
Labrador Retriever + Curly Coated Retriever
Lab Coat Retriever, the choice of research scientists
Newfoundland + Basset Hound
Newfound Asset Hound, a dog for financial advisors
Terrier + Bulldog
Terribull, a dog that makes awful mistakes
Bloodhound + Labrador
Blabador, a dog that barks incessantly
Collie + Malamute
Commute, a dog that travels to work
Deerhound + Terrier
Derriere, a dog that's true to the end
Bull Terrier + Shitzu
Bull..... Oh, never mind
Images used in this publication taken from
Hill's Atlas of Clinical Anatomy, Published by Veterinary Medicine Publishing Company,
Inc. A publication donated to veterinarians by the Hill's Pet Food Company to teach
clients about their dogs and cats in sickness and in health. Hill's Pet Food Company
produces Hill's Prescription Diets and Science Diet Premium Pet Food.
Have A Nice Weekend
Later, Dr Dan