Jasper and his bottom problem

"My dog is rubbing his bottom on the floor (scooting) again!" This is a quite common question that vets get all the time. Itching on and around the bottom can be caused by presence of gastrointestinal worms or problems associated with the anal glands. Both cats and dogs have anal glands at about the 5 o'clock and 7 o'clock positions of the anus. These glands are not visible from the outside but can be felt during a rectal examination.

Anal glands fill up normally with a liquid discharge that is very strong smelling and this substance often get expressed onto the faeces when your pet goes to the toilet. It allows both cats and dogs to mark their scent. When these glands do not empty efficiently on their own, they can quickly fill up and become impacted. This increases the chances of an anal gland infection or abcess forming.

Jasper, our little Jack Russell friend, has been having problems with his anal glands for the last year. He has also been quite unfortunate to have experienced a couple of anal gland abcesses which are very painful and uncomfortable for him. He has had courses of antibiotics and anti-inflammatories to help speed the recovery of the abcesses. Being at a vet is scary enough let alone having someone do a rectal on you every time you visit.

Jasper is a lovely little fellow who loved treats and pats at the vet. He would usually never even flinch when you tried to examine him but now he was starting to really resent anyone going near his bottom due to his bad experiences with the anal gland abcesses.

Anal glands can become inflamed secondary to allergies and become blocked or impacted as a result. The allergen can be anything from something in the air (e.g pollens, grasses) to something on the ground (e.g weeds, grasses), or even something within the house (e.g dust mites). Some dogs will respond to management of the allergies with certain medications but they usually still require regular anal gland expressions or checks to ensure that the anal glands stay empty and healthy. It also allows the vets to detect any early signs of infections of the anal glands before they have the opportunity to become abcesses.

In patients that continually get anal gland abcesses despite medical management or in patients where it is often difficult to carry out expressions without causing too much stress, anal gland removal is often recommended. Once the anal glands are removed, it completely eliminates the problem and the patient will not miss it either (similar to the removal of an appendix in a human). Every surgery carries its own risks, however in Jasper's case, the benefits from the surgery far outweighed the risks associated. He underwent surgery for removal of both his anal glands once all the inflammation from the previous abcess has resolved. Hopefully from now on, Jasper would not fret as much coming to the vets as he will not have to have his anal glands checked every time!

Learn more about anal glands and other signs that could indicate your pet may have anal gland problems.