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Dogs have two small pouches on either side of their anus. They make a smelly, oily, brown fluid that dogs use to identify each other and mark their territory. Anal gland sacs are similar to scent glands. This is why dogs greet each other sniffing at the rear.

The anal sacs are emptied by the pressure of stool passing through the anus. They can also be emptied by forceful contractions of the anal sphincter – something that may happen when a dog is frightened or upset.

Anal sac disease is a cycle that begins with impaction and progresses through infection to abscess and rupture.

Anything that causes itching, pain or a dirty bottom can cause scooting. For example, anal sac inflammation, food allergies, and low fiber diet are common causes of scooting. Your dog’s entire bottom can become hot, swollen and infected. Food allergies and anal sac inflammation are two common causes of scooting.

Anal sac impaction

Impaction is the accumulation of pasty secretion in the anal sacs. The sacs become distended and mildly tender. The expressed secretions are thick and dark brown or grayish brown. The sacs become impacted when they don’t empty completely. This may be due to insufficient pressure on the sacs during defecation because of small, softs stools, inadequate sphincter pressure, or blockage of the openings due to thick, dry secretions. Impactions tend to occur most often in small breed and overweight dogs.


Impaction is treated by manually expressing the secretions. Dogs with recurrent anal sac impactions should have their sacs emptied at regular intervals. Place the dog on a high fiber diet or bulk laxative to increase the size of the stools.

How to empty the anal sacs

Manually emptying the anal sacs is called expressing them. It is not necessary to express the anal sacs unless the dog has anal sac disease, or when frequent malodor poses a problem. Begin by putting on a disposable latex or plastic surgical glove. Raise the dog’s tail and locate the openings. If they’re full, the anal sacs can be felt as small, firm lumps in the perianal area at 5 and 7 0’ clock positions.

As the sac empties, you may get a strong odor. Wipe the secretions with a damp cloth or gently hose the dog’s rectal area. Normal secretions are liquid and brown. If the discharge is yellow, bloody or pus like, the sac is infected and you should seek veterinary attention.

Sacculities (Anal Sac infection)

Anal sac infection complicates impaction. Infection is recognised by painful swelling on one or both sides of anus on one or both sides of anus. The anal secretions are thin, yellowish or blood-tinged. The dog will scoot, lick, and bite at his rear.


Begin by expressing the anal sacs. Repeat in one or two weeks. For recurrent infection, empty the sacs weekly. After emptying, an antibiotic is instilled into the sacs. This procedure should be done by your veterinarian. Dogs with recurrent anal sac infections should have their anal sacs surgically removed. This is the best done during period between infections.

Anal sac abscess

Abscess is recognised by fever and the signs of anal sac infection. The swelling, usually on one side, is red at first, then later turns a deep purple. Unlike anal sac infection, the swelling of an abscess cannot be reduced by emptying the sac. An abscess often ruptures through the adjacent skin, producing a draining tract.


If the abscess has not ruptured spontaneously, it should be lanced by your veterinarian when it becomes soft and fluid like. The cavity is flushed repeatedly and the dog is placed on oral antibiotic. Your veterinarian may ask you to flush the cavity twice a day with topical antiseptic such as dilute Betadine solution for one to two weeks, and apply warm compresses to the area.

Dr Sharad Singh Yadav is the Chairman of Advanced Pet Hospital & Research Centre which is open 24 hours throughout the year and located in Bishal Nagar, Kathmandu. He may be contacted on tel: 4422855 or email: aphktm@gmail.com