Anal sacs or glands are two small repositories on either side of the dog’s anus. These sacs hold the liquid secretions from the anal glands which are connected to the anus via a thin duct. The liquid that is stored in these glands has a foul smell and is grayish and pale yellow-brown in color. This secretion usually excretes with the feces of a dog. This liquid is easily secreted out of the glands when a dog id scared or nervous. The anal gland disease is caused when dogs are unable to secrete this foul smelling liquid out of the glands. In order to understand the anal sac disease in a better way, let’s take a look at how it is caused and what can be the treatment options for a dog suffering from it.
Purpose of Anal Glands
There are different purposes for which these anal glands are used for. Let’s take a look at them.
• When a dog defecates, these glands receive pressure, which causes the noxious smelling liquid to secrete. This is the reason that dogs smell each other’s behind after eliminating.
• The anal glands in dogs are very similar to the ones in a skunk. However, a dog’s are not as developed as a skunk’s. The purpose of these anal glands is also quite the same in the two animals. Dogs use these glands to excrete the foul smelling liquid to scare away predators. This usually happens when a dog is frightened and wants to disturb the enemy from the smell. This technique was used by the modern day dog’s ancestors.
• Another purpose of these glands is to mark territories. Many dogs rub their behind on a vertical surface to leave the scent of the liquid on the places they want to mark for themselves. This scent acts as a message and threat for other dogs.
Anal glands were used by the dogs in the olden times. Those dogs lived in wild forests and had to make use of this technique to stay protected. However, today’s domestic dogs do not need this gland, which means that these glands are really useless and have no real purpose.
How is Anal Gland Disease Caused?
A normal anal gland of a healthy dog will secrete the liquid whether the glands are empty or full. However, when a dog is unable to secrete the liquid, the liquid turns to solid. This solid liquid can cause the liquid to stop secreting permanently, causing more damage. The pressure inside the glands then begins to build-up, causing harm to the lining of the gland. This damaged lining affects the tissues, which might turn into an infection, making things worse for the dog.
If the tissues are left untreated, there is a high chance of the formation of an ulcer. This ulcer can cause further damage to the skin, developing into an open wound which can be quite dangerous. The formation of ulcers in the glands can cause a lot of damage not only to the gland but to the lining, and the anal area. The major reasons due to which the anal gland disease occurs in dogs includes:
• A dog that is overweight can develop fat around the anal glands, causing a malfunction in the secretion of the liquid.
• A dog that has recently suffered from diarrhea or soft feces might develop this disease. This occurs when the pressure applied to these glands is not sufficient enough to let the liquid out.
• Many small breed dogs have very small ducts. The size of their ducts makes it harder for the liquid to get out of the glands, causing the liquid to harden.
Identifying Anal Gland Disease
Anal gland disease can be very easily identified if you know about its symptoms. a dog suffering from the anal duct infection might be in excruciating pain and could even cry out loud. An infected anal gland will make it hard and painful for the dog to excrete. So, if a dog has this disease, it might start to lick its anal area or bite its tail in pain.
Another clear sign of this disease can be seen when a dog is rubbing its anus on the floor. A dog with an anal infection acts this way because it feels uncomfortable due to the pain. However, this anal infection does not cause a foul smell to occur in the place it rubbed its behind. A dog may often rub its behind on the floor or a carpet when it has a skin infection or a tapeworm infestation. However, this usually occurs when a dog has the anal gland disease.
You can also identify the anal gland disease in your dog by examining your dog’s feces. If the feces have blood or puss in it, it means the dog has anal gland disease. Sometimes an infection in the anal glands might be represented by excess liquid excretion everywhere the dog goes. This happens in dogs that have wide widely open ducts, which cause the fluid to drain out from the glands continuously.
Different Treatment Options for the Anal Gland Disease
Anal gland disease, if left untreated can be a serious condition that can be harmful for your dog’s health. However, there are several easy options to turn a dog’s condition back to normal. Let’s take a look at the different option that dog owners can opt for when their dog is suffering from the anal gland disease.
Make Your Dog Lose Weight
Anal gland disease is more common in overweight dogs than in normal weight dogs. The easiest way to treat this harmful condition or to avoid letting it from happening is to make your dog lose some weight.
Get the Anal Glands Removed
When the anal gland disease get worse, it is best to go for a surgical option to get rid of the glands. This usually happens when a dog is constantly feeling uncomfortable due to its glands. However, this option is only for the dogs with a very bad disease condition.
The surgical procedure for the removal of anal glands should be conducted by a professional vet. The tissues around the anal gland are very delicate and might get damaged during the surgery. Moreover, if the sphincter muscle is damaged, it can cause a permanent fecal incontinence. However, the damage to the sphincter muscle is not permanent and is usually healed after two weeks of the surgery.
Another problem with surgery is that if any part of the anal gland is left inside, it can cause the secretion to build-up inside the skin. Because there will be no outlet for the secretion to drain, it will cause ulcers that will require surgery. However, a successful anal gland removal surgery can result in permanent solution to this problem.
Feeding Fibre Rich Diet
A great way to put a stop this disease is to feed fibre rich foods to the dog in great quantity. Fibre causes more feces build-up, which results in pressure on the anal glands during excretion, resulting in emptying of the glands. You can make the dog consume more fibre by simply adding bran or psillium husk to its food. Fibre rich diet is not the ultimate solution for this disease as many dogs have small duct opening, which make it hard for the liquid to flow out easily.
Taking the Vet’s Help
You can also visit your vet for expression your dog’s anal glands manually. Your vet will conduct this manual procedure every month and if you are willing to do it on your own, you can ask the vet to teach you the trick. However, the dogs that do not produce the liquid frequently require a visit to the vet every month and the dogs with excessive production of the liquid need a weekly expression.
If you want your Personal Protection Dog to stay healthy and protected from anal gland disease, make sure you are keeping a watchful eye on its diet and overall health.