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Q&A: Clogged Anal Sacs

| Filed under: Q&ADogDr. Patrick Mahaney


Owning a pet can be a really amazing and fun experience. But sometimes it can be super gross.

TeddyHilton.com reader, Penelope wrote in with a question for the most knowledgable man in the biz, Dr. Patrick Mahaney.

She wrote:

Dear Dr Teddy,

My Cockapoo, also named Teddy, not after Teddy Hilton, gets clogged up and smells like a fish. I have had this problem before, not me personally, and can usually squeeze the anal gland back up free. One time it squirted 6 feet out and on the wall. I kept it there for proof, if you want a picture.

My question is, are Labradoodles and Cockapoos more apt to get this problem?

What can be done to stop this treat?

Thank you.

Dr. Patrick responded:

Hi Penelope,

Thank you for your question.

Issues pertaining to a pet's anal sacs are common, but are not necessarily specific to the Labradoodle or Cockapoo.

Before we get into this issue, let's discuss terminology. Dogs and cats have anal glands on the right and left sides at the outer edge of the rectum. The gland fills the anal sac, which connects to the edge of the rectum through a small duct. From a visualization standpoint, it is like a round grape attached to a short cocktail straw.

When the sac (not the gland) is expressed, fluid exits the sac through the duct. What I am trying to get at here is the common misnomer that a pet's anal glands are expressed. It is actually the expression of the sac (not the gland). People often choose to not say "anal sac", as it sounds like "anal sex". So, expressing the "anal gland" is often used instead.

Back to your question. Any dog or cat can potentially have a problem with the anal sac not properly expressing. This is more common in older, debilitated animals or those having chronic issues with soft stools/diarrhea or intestinal infection. A well formed stool will stimulate the sac to express when the stool passes through the rectum. Anything that causes sudden squeezing of the muscles in that area can also do so (sudden stop in your car, having a strenuous interaction with another pet [dog fight, hard play], etc).

If your dog is having issues with the duct getting clogged and the sac overfilling, then pursue evaluation and more regular expression at your veterinarian's office. Perhaps every 4 weeks to start until the sac is staying expressed and duct unclogged, then reduce the interval to a more manageable time period.

Good luck,

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