Anal Gland Disorders
Anal Gland Disorders

The anal glands are small sacs located on either side of the anus, under the skin and below the muscle.  They connect to the anal opening by means of small canals (ducts). Anal sacs produce and store a dark, foul smelling fluid. These are the same glands that a skunk uses for defense. With dogs and cats, they serve no useful purpose other than to "scent mark" their territory to let other animals know not to intrude.

Normal emptying of the sacs is caused by the pressure of the bowel movement and the contractions of the muscles around the anus. If, for whatever reason, this natural emptying does not occur the glands become distended with secretion.  Discomfort or infection may follow.

Diseases of these glands / sacs include:

IMPACTION - excessive accumulation of fluid that thickens and weakens the glands
INFECTION - bacteria enter the sacs and, together with the thickened fluid, cause pus and blood.
ABSCESSATION - as a result of the infection a hot, tender, red swelling forms next to the anal opening and may burst and drain bloody pus. 


  1. Scooting or dragging the rump                     
  2. Excessive licking under the tail
  3. Sore / swollen area seen near the anus
  4. Bloody or sticky drainage under the tail


  • Massage to empty the sacs
  • Antibiotics
  • Infusing medication into the sacs
  • Surgical drainage (lancing)
  • Surgical removal of the glands/sacs

Remember. . . overweight pets and poor diet can be predisposing factors to anal gland disease.

A good weight control program and feeding a high fiber diet will minimize this type of problem !


Web site designed by Ed Acton for Tri-City Pet Hospital