While more common in dogs, anal gland disease is a condition that can affect both cats and dogs. Around your pet’s anal opening there are some small sacs known as the anal glands which can become infected causing abscesses. In normal cats and dogs, the anal glands secrete a clear or cream colored substance during defecation that is used to market territory.
Anal gland disease in cats and dogs occurs when the anal glands become impacted or blocked. The contents of the glands can become dry and hard leading to inflammation and possibly an abscess. Some of the symptoms of anal gland disease include:
- Swelling or redness of the anal area
- Irritation near the anus
- Severe pain
- Behavioral changes
In addition to these symptoms, pets with anal gland disease may bite at their bottom or drag their bottom along the ground. In many cases, the abscesses that develop due to anal gland disease can burst which can be extremely painful for your cat or dog.
Treating anal gland disease is usually preventative. If your dog or cat has suffered from anal gland disease before, your veterinarian will recommend adding more fiber to your pet’s diet. The extra bulk in your pet’s feces will put gentle pressure on the anal glands ensuring that they are squeezed during defecation and preventing a blockage. Your veterinarian will have to manually squeeze the anal glands to express the substance from the gland. In addition, if abscesses have been formed, your veterinarian will clean the area and may prescribe antibiotics to treat infection. In very extreme cases of anal gland disease, cats and dogs may have to have surgery to remove the anal glands. In most cases, anal gland disease is not a risk to your pet’s life but it can cause a fair amount of discomfort.