Our oldest Chihuahua had an anal sac abscess last month and we are still taking care of it with antibiotics (his Vet doesn't want to take any chances so he is on his last week of pills). Has anyone else had to deal with this? I got our Vet to show me how to empty their anal sacs so hopefully this doesn't happen again but I have to admit, I was totally ignorant about this until it happened to Ricky
The anal sacs are a kind of scent marker in dogs. This is why dogs sniff each other's butts, honestly, so they can learn the unique 'scent' of another dog. Usually, the anal sacs are expressed naturally by the normal process of defecation. If your dog has loose or soft stools, it doesn't put enough pressure on the sides of the rectum to express the anal sacs. This is why a firm stiff stool that forms nice solid turds is highly prefered. Sometimes for one reason or another (Like pretty much every other infection in life) they just get abscessed, an infection forms in the sac and builds up pressure that has to be 'drained'. I've actually heard that expressing anal sacs can make this problem much more likely, some people say their dogs have never had a problem until they were expressed at a groomers or a vet's office. But I've also heard that some dogs (and breeds) are prone to impacted anal sacs. You can smell it when it happens, the stuff in the sacs smells worse than a fresh pile of diarrhea and that scent will linger around your dog.
eeeewwwww.... LOL, that is the comment I receive most often when discussing a pets anal glands with their owners. FWIW, anal gland infections/impactions are truly a pain in the aRss. I agree 100% with the idea that if it's not broke, don't fix it. The worst cases of anal gland problems are generally in toy/small breeds in there older years on dogs that had been expressed regularly when they were young. 20 years ago we were taught it was important for the dogs health for these to be empty and to express them at a part of quality grooming process. Times do change, sometimes owners don't like to hear that I don't express glands anymore.... I tell them now that I'll "check" them, which I do with simple external palpation checking for obvious swelling or hard mass..... it's the dog scooting his butt on the floor routine that they want us as groomers to fix. I now generally support the decision to remove glands if they should become infected more than once. Even on one of my own very well cared for dogs .... a complete course of Baytril has not cleared an infection in one gland..... he's only 7 and I would rather have a delicate surgery performed once that will prevent a lifetime of probably chronic problems with his glands. I'm waiting till his next bath when we'll decide.... sure hope he's clear. BTW, he has NOT had his glands expressed since he came to me as a puppy.
I do not touch them unless they are overly full and luckily haven't had to yet. Our Vet has had to empty Lucy Tu's once and with Ricky's history, he checks him often but as a rule, he does not unless he really needs it. He only taught me in case since we also travel quite a bit in a motorhome and could be 2000 miles away when it needs to be done.
We see this a lot at our clinic, usually minor surgery and they can go home the same day. Not very pleasant for the pet, and it can reoccur. Some people have the anal glands removed all together, but most vets really don't prefer to do this.