Anal Sac Disease

The anal sacs rest on either side of the anus in the 4 and 8 o’clock positions. All dogs and cats have these scent glands that normally empty their secretions during defecation. Symptoms of anal sac disease (ASD) include scooting, excessive licking, pain, swelling, and/or foul-smelling discharge from the anal sacs. Anal sac disease develops when the sacs cannot empty normally, such as with obesity, skin inflammation from allergies, loose stools/diarrhea, and tumors. The degree of ASD varies from mild impaction with thickened secretions to severe infections that breakthrough the skin around the anus. To treat ASD, the sacs are manually expressed followed by flushing of the sacs to clear excess debris and infection. Some pets may benefit from dietary changes, antibiotics, and anti-inflammatories. Investigating and treating for an underlying cause limits the recurrence of ASD. In pets with chronic inflammation or tumors, surgery may be necessary to remove the anal sacs.