Many pets, especially smaller breeds of dogs, are seen by veterinarians for anal sac disease. Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation about this condition.
All dogs and cats, but not people, have 2 small sacs on either side of the anus (at what would be the 4-5 o’clock position and the 7-8 o’clock position on a clock face.) The small sacs contain glands which constantly produce a very foul smelling fluid. The purpose of this fluid is for the pet to scent-mark its bowel movements. Whenever the pet has a bowel movement, the contents of each anal sac is expressed, marking the fecal material deposited by the pet.
Sometimes the pet has difficulty emptying its anal sacs. In this case, they must be expressed by your pet’s veterinarian. This is usually simply done during an office visit. For pets with thickened material in the anal sacs, the anal sacs may need to be infused with liquid medication which is best done under sedation or anesthesia.
While I commonly hear pet owners and veterinarians stating that the pet has an anal gland issue, anal gland problems in pets are really rare. Rather, it is the glands of the anal sacs which are the problem in pets which develop impacted anal sacs.
I often hear pet owners tell me that their veterinarians believe the anal sacs to be infected. True infection of the anal sacs is really rare. Even when the anal sacs are infected, antibiotics are usually not necessary as the anal sacs can heal quite nicely without them. For pets that have chronic anal sac impactions, frequent visits to the doctor to have them expressed, along with homeopathic remedies or nutritional supplements or dietary changes, is usually all that is needed. Surgery is only necessary in extreme cases where the anal sacs are constantly impacted or where they abscess, causing the pet pain and discomfort.