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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As Easter and Mother’s Day holidays approach, it is important to prevent exposure to common lilies as they can be poisonous and fatal to cats.
The most dangerous and potentially fatal lilies for cats are those in the genus Lilium and Hemerocallis. These are very popular often found in cut-flower bouquets or potted sold during the Easter holiday. It is critical to not bring these flowers in your home if you have cats. Ingesting petals, leaves, pollen or even drinking the water from the vase can be poisonous. Below is a list of common lilies which link to the Pet Poison Helpline for more information.
Asiatic lily – including hybrids (Lilium asiatica)
You may have heard about outbreaks of “dog flu” affecting pets across the country. This highly contagious and, for some dogs, potentially serious respiratory infection is caused by canine influenza virus (CIV) H3N2 or H3N8. Chances are, if your dog is exposed to CIV, he or she may become infected. Dogs that are frequently in contact with other dogs may be at high risk of infection with CIV H3N2 or H3N8. This includes dogs that are boarded, enrolled in day care, often visit the local dog park, or even have contact with dogs while visiting the veterinary clinic. If you have a puppy, elderly or pregnant dog or a dog that is immunocompromised, you should take extra precautions. The good news is that our office now has a vaccine known as Vanguard® CIV H3N2/H3N8 which is available to help prevent disease associated with both types of CIV to provide maximum protection.
Please call our office to discuss your dog’s risk for CIV. This is particularly important if you plan to board your dog in the near future or regularly send him or her to a grooming or daycare facility. We’ll answer all your questions about dog flu and help you decide whether vaccination is right for your pet. You can also visit Dogflufacts.com for more information.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is dog flu?
Dog flu is a contagious respiratory disease. It is caused by two specific Type A canine influenza viruses (CIVs): H3N2 and H3N8.