Dr. Slovon  

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Veterinary Service

for the Quality Minded

Owings Mills
 Animal and Bird Hospital


Home : Frequently Asked Pet Health Questions : A-B-C : ANAL SAC DISEASE : 



The anal sacs (glands) lie beneath the skin, on each side of the rectal opening. The anal sacs are lined with glands that produce a secretion with a strong odor. This is the same gland as the “scent gland” of the skunk. The only purpose for these glands in <animal> is to help a veterinarian make a living! The secretion is normally discharged from the rectum with the stools or when the rectal muscle tightens--such as when <animal> is frightened. If the canal emptying the gland does not close completely, <animal> may leave foul-smelling fluid where they have been.

Types of anal sac disease include:


Abnormal secretions are thick and unable to escape through the duct. This may result from a change in diet, or a change in the nature of the secretions. The sacs become swollen and painful.


Bacterial Infection produces a thin, foul-smelling discharge. Licking of these glands may cause other body infections, such as tonsillitis and skin infections.


If left untreated, infections may abscess resulting in a painful swelling filled with pus that cannot escape. Often the gland will burst from the pressure as the infectious discharge accumulates. Many pets are presented to us with a “hole” beside the rectum, which is a result of a bursting abscess.

Signs of Anal Sac Disease include:
  • “Scooting” or dragging the rear-end on the floor or ground. A discharge may be seen on the floor.
  • Jerking around quickly to lick the tail area or excessive licking of the rectal area.
  • Reluctance to lift the tail or allow you to touch the rear-end.
  • Constipation.
  • Bloody drainage around the rectal area.

Treatment of Anal Sac Disease MAY include:

  • Rectal palpation to empty the sacs of the secretions.
  • Lancing and/or debriding the infected gland.
  • Systemic antibiotics.
  • Anti-inflammatory medications

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