Bottoms Up!

by Dr. Sanjay Jain

Bottoms up! Or down, in some instances. The anus and other areas of the animal’s derriere can have chronic issues which are sometimes sudden in nature. The result is the animal exhibiting pain and inappropriate behavior. Let’s discuss some of the common problems:

  1. Anal glands can be full, causing the classic scooting on the floor or licking the area. The pet is trying to express the fluid buildup by applying pressure to express the glands. These glands have a putrid smell these are the same glands a skunk sprays when scared. They are sometimes expressed during grooming, but this varies from groomer to groomer and you may need to ask.  If the gland doesn’t empty, it can abscess to the outside causing bleeding and a lot of pain.  Using a higher fiber food or adding fiber supplements can help to bulk the stool up to express the glands naturally during a bowel movement as Mother Nature intended. Antibiotics and anti-inflammatories with anesthesia are needed in abscessed cases. 

  2. The anal glands can also develop tumors which in many cases are cancerous with some causing high calcium levels that lead to excessive drinking/urination and more serious problems.

  3. Surgery is the treatment for tumors followed by radiation therapy at UW-Madison which costs thousands of dollars. Surgery is also needed for constant leakage of anal gland fluid or chronic relapsing of impacted glands with both glands usually removed. If your dog has the glands removed, remind the groomer to make sure they don’t try to express a gland that isn’t there anymore. 

  4. Another mass is the perianal (near the anus) tumor which are smooth and look like polyps. These often are benign, but can be locally aggressive cancers. Overproduction of hormones in either of the testicles in intact dogs or one of the hormones of the adrenal glands can contribute to these and surgery is the only option. It is advisable to remove these sooner than later due to the amount of skin available and the close proximaty to other structures like the anal glands. These masses can ulcerate either from trauma or if allowed to get large enough, can outgrow their blood supply, but this is rare.

  5. The rectum (just inside the anus) can get inflamed from parasites like whipworms, bacterial infections, or allergies of the skin causing similar signs, so a veterinary exam is needed to assess the problem.