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Symptoms of Anal Sac Inflammation & Scooting

  
 

Which Symptoms of Anal Inflammation are Most Common?

Anal sac inflammation is caused when material cannot drain from the anal sacs. With enough swelling, the anal sac bursts open and drains. The two ways of recognizing anal sac problems are your pet's behavior and the appearance of the anal area. Behaviors such as scooting, tail chasing, chewing the rear end, and licking may indicate anal sac problems. Some pets will actually jump up as if stung, but these pets are experiencing pain or itching. When the anal sac area is examined, the area around the anus will often appear red and swollen. If the anal sacs are about to burst, the area may even turn purple. Many pets with chronic sac inflammation have hardened skin under the tail due to chronic licking and self trauma. It is important to differentiate other causes of scooting such as fleas, ringworm, tapeworms, and food allergies from impacted anal sacs, as these other issues will need to be addressed to prevent scooting and secondary anal sac inflammation.

In addition to signs and symptoms directly due to the anal sacs, anal sac inflammation can lead to symptoms elsewhere in the body. For example, if a pet licks its bottom frequently and swallows bacteria and anal sac material, it can develop infections in the tonsils, the stomach, and the upper airway (trachea). These pets may exhibit sore throats, vomiting, and chronic coughing that resembles kennel cough (tracheobronchitis). When the anal sac problems are resolved, the other health issues resolve.


  • Scooting
  • Tail chasing
  • Chewing the rear end
  • Itching/Scratching
  • Licking
  • Red/swollen anal sac
  •   

    Scooting is the most common symptom of anal sac inflammation
      

    How Are Pets Diagnosed with Anal Inflammation?

    Anal sac problems are diagnosed by examining the perineal area. Your veterinarian will wear disposable gloves and massage the anal sacs to determine whether they are soft and easily compressed or swollen and difficult to compress. As anal sac material is expressed, it is evaluated for color and consistency. Normal secretions are thin, rather like motor oil, and a pale yellow-brown. Dry secretions from impacted anal sacs are thick and pasty brown. If the sac is infected with bacteria, secretions become darker brown with yellow or green-yellow pus. Chronic infections and abscesses cause red-brown secretions. Infected anal sac secretions have a foul odor.

    If anal sac material is abnormal, your veterinarian will send it to a laboratory to determine what organism is causing the infection. Among the common causes are

    • bacteria, such as E. coli, Clostridium, Proteus, And Staphylococcus,
    • yeast (Candida), and
    • ringworm (Malassezia).

    Diagnosis of Masses in the Perineal Area

    Several different cancers can form masses in the perineal area. Tumors develop in male and female dogs, especially in Beagles, English Cocker Spaniels, English Bulldogs, Springer Spaniels, Dachshunds, Alaskan Malamutes, German Shepherds, and Samoyeds.

    Apocrine (sebaceous) gland tumors (also called perianal adenomas) are common in male dogs because they are stimulated, in part, by testosterone. These tumors may spread through the pelvic area to the lymph nodes. A different type of cancer, an anal sac tumor (anal sac apocrine gland adenocarcinoma), occurs in females and may also infiltrate and spread through the area.

     

    Which Tests Are Used to Diagnose ?

    If your pet has a mass in the perineal area, your veterinarian will insert a needle and remove cells that can be sent for laboratory identification. X-rays and ultrasound exams help determine the extent of your pet's problem and whether the tumor has spread to another area (metastatic cancer). Some cancers first found in the perineal area have actually come from other areas of the body, and the laboratory tests and X-rays help find the origin of these cancer cells. Because some perineal tumors, especially anal sac tumors, increase the amount of calcium in the blood to a level that damages the kidneys, your veterinarian will include blood tests to fully evaluate your pet's health.


      

      
    More Information on Addison's Disease in Dogs and Cats
      
     

       
     
     
       
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