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What makes a pet insurance plan great? We have a helpful downloadable chart to help you with choosing the right pet insurance. After a new pet exam with one of our veterinarians, you may be eligible for a free 30 day trial with Trupanion. The Trupanion policy allows dogs and cats to be enrolled anytime from birth until their 14th birthday.

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Can We Talk Frankly about Anal Glands?

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Dogs and cats have anal glands (sacs) located under the skin on either side of the rectum in the 5 and 7 o’clock position. These small glands secrete a foul smelling fluid into the anal area via small ducts. In most cases glands empty naturally due to pressure from each bowel movement. Check out our video about anal glands!

 

What is the function of these glands?

There is some debate on the true function of anal glands in dogs and cats. One theory is that they serve as territory markers, and even relay information about sex and age. Another theory is that the anal gland secretion acts as a lubricant for hard stools so they pass more easily. Some people believe the glands are vestigial and have no real function as domesticated dogs and cats lack the ability to empty the glands on their own volition.

 

Do anal glands cause problems for dogs and cats?

Sometimes the anal glands do not empty normally. The reasons are varied but narrow ducts, obesity, chronic soft stools and allergies all may play a role. Small breed dogs have a greater incidence of problems than do large dog breeds and cats. When the anal glands do not empty normally the secretions becomes thicker. This in turn makes it mare difficult for the anal gland secretions to pass normally through the small ducts (tubes) into the anus. The end result can be impaction, and if impaction occurs the anal gland may burst resulting in an abscess (infection) under the skin.

 

How would I know if my dog or cat is having an anal gland problem?

When the anal glands fail to empty properly an uncomfortable or itchy sensation occurs. In dogs this can lead to licking at the anal area or scooting their rear end on the floor which may be an attempt to empty the glands or to relieve itching. If an abscess develops you may see a swelling or draining in the perianal area.  In cats with impacted anal glands they sometimes become reluctant to use the litter box as they associate it with discomfort while defecating.

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