Anal glands are two sac-like glands lying beneath the skin of the anus in approximately the 5 & 7 o’clock positions, each with a small duct opening just inside the anus itself.
In the primitive wild cat or dog they probably performed both lubricant and territorial marking functions. In domesticated animals this function is largely unnecessary. Thus the glands have lost most of their own ability to contract and rely on passage of a large firm stool (which squeezes’ out the gland as it stretches the skin of the anus) to keep them emptied. Anything that therefore blocks the duct or interferes with this mechanical squeezing will tend to lead to anal gland impaction, irritation and inflamination and/or abscessation.
Anal gland impaction may therefore be caused by:
- Irritation of the anus and perianal skin eg: by worms, fleas and chemicals.
- By persistently soft bowel motions (diarrhoea, poor diet, poor pancreatic function).
CLINICAL SIGNS ARE:- rubbing the bottom on the ground, licking and chewing, and constipation.
- Mechanical emptying by manual squeezing (impaction).
- Mechanical emptying by manual squeezing and antibiotics and flushing where abscessation has occurred.
- Anaesthetics may be necessary to either flush the gland out and/or to lance and drain it (abscesses are very painful).
- Where the problem is recurrent, cauterizing the gland or removing it surgically may be the best treatment.