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Anal Sac Problems in Dogs and Cats

Dogs and cats have an amazing sense of smell, which is why they spend so much time with their noses to the ground. What they are sniffing for, in most cases, are traces of other pets. Whenever they have a bowel movement, dogs and cats release small amounts of fluid from the anal sacs (two storage areas on either side of the anus. The smell of the fluid is unique to each pet. It is one way of saying, "I was here."

The anal sacs normally empty and refill every day. When stools aren't firm enough, however, they don't exert enough pressure to empty the sacs. This causes fluid to accumulate, making the anal area itchy and sore.

Vets aren't sure why, but small dogs tend to have more anal-sac problems than larger breeds. Cats will occasionally have blocked anal sacs, but it is generally more of a problem in dogs.

The traditional treatment is to unblock the sacs by manually pressing out the fluid. It is an easy procedure (vets can do it in just a few seconds), but the problem often comes back. That is why holistic veterinarians favor more of a whole-body (and hands-off) approach. When the anal sacs act up, it is a sign that something is wrong somewhere in the body. Treating the problem by emptying the sacs is like sweeping dirt under a rug. It doesn't solve the problem, just hides it temporarily out of sight.

Signs of Anal-Sac Problems

  • Your pet is scooting across the floor.

  • Your pet is licking his bottom more than usual.

  • The anal area is swollen or inflamed, or there is a discharge.

The Solutions

Put water to work - One of the most effective ways to relieve discomfort and help the anal sacs drain is to soak your pet's bottom in a mixture of warm water and Epsom salts (about one cup of salts in two gallons of water) for about 10 minutes. Doing this once or twice a day for a few days will help liquefy the fluid in the sacs so that it flows more easily. The salts can be drying, however, so it is a good idea to apply a little petroleum jelly or mineral oil after the bath.

Apply a warm compress - Many pets won't sit for a sitz bath. An easy alternative is to soak a washcloth in the Epsom salts water mixture and hold it to your pet's rear for about 10 minutes, twice a day. A lot of times, this will open the sacs. You can also try placing your palm over your pet's bottom and gently rocking it back and forth, without squeezing. The slight pressure will often help the sacs to drain.

Try a new diet - Switching pets to a higher-quality food such as Life's Abundance, or giving them homemade food may help prevent blocked anal sacs from coming back.

Give your pet extra fiber - Even if you decide not to switch foods, you can improve your pet's diet by giving him fresh vegetables, which are high in dietary fiber. Fiber absorbs tremendous amounts of water in the intestine, which causes stools to get larger and firmer. Larger stools put more pressure on the anal sacs, helping them empty normally. Cats and dogs under 15 pounds can be given about one-eighth cup of minced vegetables such a s broccoli or carrots each day. Pets weighing 15 to 50 pounds can have between one-fourth and one-half cups, and dogs weighing over 50 pounds can have as much as two cups of vegetables each day. Read more about the benefits of fiber in your pet's diet here!

Cats are fussier than dogs about what they eat. If your cat turns up his whiskers at the minced vegetables, you can run them through a blender (adding a little water or chicken broth) and mix them with his food.

Get those paws moving - Regular exercise strengthens the rectal and abdominal muscles so that they put more pressure on the anal sacs. As long as they are healthy, dogs and cats should get at least 20 minutes of exercise a day.

Soothe them with Silica - Silica is a homeopathic remedy that can help the anal sacs empty normally. It is recommended giving two or three drops or three to five pellets of Silica 6C twice a day for three days. For some pets, this is all you will need to do to relieve the discomfort.

Relieve the allergies - Vets aren't sure why, but anal-sac problems in dogs may be related to allergies. If your dog is scratching alot and licking his feet and he has anal-sac problems, there is a good chance that the problems are related. The best "cure" for allergies is to help your dog avoid whatever he is allergic to. This is not always easy to do, of course, especially if he is allergic to something like common pollen.

An alternative is to give him dog supplements containing omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish oil or flaxseed oil, which can help reduce itching and inflammation. Vets usually recommend giving dogs under 15 pounds 250 to 500 milligrams of fatty acids twice a day. Dogs between 15 and 50 pounds can have 1,000 milligrams one or two times a day. Dogs 50 pounds and over can take between 1,000 and 2,000 milligrams twice daily. Every pet reacts differently to supplements, so ask your vet for the correct dose.

We also recommend AnalGlandz, a 100% natural herbal remedy, that helps cleanse, soften and empty the anal glands in dogs and cats. Look for Buy 2, Get 1 FREE Special!

AnalGlandz Benefits:

  • To support natural emptying of the anal glands

  • As an aid to manual extraction of anal glands during grooming

  • To cleanse the anal area and support healthy anal glands

When to Call the Vet

Many pets will have anal-sac problems at least once in their lives, and some pets have them all the time. The problems usually aren't serious and will clear up within a few days. But the anal area isn't the cleanest environment, and blocked anal sacs sometimes get infected. This can cause inflammation, impaction, or a painful abscess. Infections can be dangerous, so it is important to call your vet when your dog or cat is suddenly scooting a lot more than usual or the anal area looks red or swollen. Your vet may need to clean out the sacs thoroughly and possibly install a temporary "drain." Your pet may need oral antibiotics as well.

About Us

My name is Bree Weasner, and I’ve been bringing pet owners like you valuable information on pet nutrition and natural holistic alternatives to conventional pet care since 2001.

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