Wow! My favorite holiday (not). Actually I wasn’t aware it was a holiday but I’m pretty sure my patients were celebrating it. Here it goes. First patient of the day: lift tail to examine butt, splat- anal juice to left face. Patient number 2:, attempt to express anal sacs, sac misfires-splat, juice to the right side of head. The day did not get better. Good thing I love my job or I would be working at Dunkin Donuts after all that.
You all know what an anal sac is, right? Think skunk but on a smaller scale. These little sacs of gland lined tissue are located on the left and right side of your dog or cats anal sphincter. They make this really smelly (bad fish at low tide) odor that is actually a means of communication. Yup, that’s why Fido sniffs other dogs butts and smells their poop. Lot’s of information in that oily liquid. The sacs are supposed to empty completely every time you pet defecates but in this day and age what with obesity, allergies, commercial pet food- it doesn’t always happen. So think about it- every minute of every day your anal sacs are making this magical liquid but alas, they are not always emptying their little cargo. They get bigger and bigger, you drag your butt on the rug to squeeze it out. Nope, didn’t work. You lick and chew and push to empty the little suckers. Still no luck. Still making magic juice. Still not emptying. Bigger-BIGGER-BIGGER-POP! Oh my gosh, an anal gland explosion. The little bugger just blew a hole through the back of the gland, out through your butt cheek. Now you’re really talking painful.
Ok, so not every impacted anal gland ruptures. Sometimes the efforts to express a recalcitrant gland do succeed. Sometimes they get infected and a round of antibiotics puts us right with the world. Sometimes Dr Jo gets to flush the little beggers out with chlorhexidine solution.
Please make it go away! Control your pet’s allergies. Allergic dogs and cats make more anal secretions. Increase the fiber in their diet. We all need a good firm stool to express those darlings. Get them expressed if they are causing discomfort. In worse case scenarios we even remove the anal glands but there is a downside to that so save for last.