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ANAL GLANDS (OR SACS)

On either side of the anus of the dog is situated an anal gland, which secretes a lubricant that better enables the dog to expel the contents of the rectum.  These glands are subject to being clogged, and in them accumulates a fetid mass.  This accumulation is not, strictly speaking, a disease-unless it becomes infected and purulent.  Almost all dogs have it, and most of them are neglected without serious consequences.  However, they are better if they are relieved.  Their spirits improve, their eyes brighten, and even their coats gradually grow more lively if the putrid mass is occasionally squeezed out of the anus.

*An excerpt from the book The Complete Bulldog by Bailey C. Hanes copyrighted 1956
The anal glands or sacs are located at about the five and seven (or four and eight) o'clock  positions if you imagine the area around the rectum to be a clock face. It is usually possible to feel them under the skin at these points when they are full. In some dogs the sacs can be pretty far to the side of the rectum but most are about 1/4 to 1/2 inch to the side. 
These sacs are sometimes referred to as the "scent" glands.  In the skunk they serve a protective purpose.  In the dog they appear to be of use in territorial marking , and to enable dogs to identify one another.  This probably accounts for the fact that dogs greet each other by sniffing at the other's rear.

The anal sacs normally are emptied by rectal pressure during defecation.   Anal sacs also are emptied whenever there is sudden contraction of the anal sphincter.  This causes a characteristic odor when a dog is upset, frightened or under pressure.  The secretion is liquid and brownish.  At times it may be thick or creamy, yellow, gray, tan, brown or black and be normal. Blood or other colored exudates may indicate a problem. 

SYMPTOM
The most frequent sign of anal sacs or glands being full and needing to be manually expressed is the Bulldog scooting, which can be accompanied by a strong, foul pungent odor.  Because Bulldogs can also have problems with tight irritated and sometimes infection under the tail, one must discern if the scooting is from a tail problem, or anal sac problem.

When you have confirmed that full anal glands (or sacs) is your Bulldog's problem,  making sure that the tail is not in the way;  the openings of the anal sacs are found by drawing down on the skin of the lower part of the anus.  By applying a small amount of pressure directly below these openings, fluid can be expressed.

To avoid the expense of having the sacs emptied, you can learn to empty them yourself at home but most people feel it is well worth having someone else perform this service. If the sacs need to be emptied every few weeks or more, you may opt to have the sacs permanently removed. Ask your veterinarian for details.  If you are interested in this procedure make sure your veterinarian is experienced with Bulldogs and their special anesthesia needs.

EXPRESSING THE ANAL GLANDS (OR SACS)

External Method:
A rag or tissue is held up to the anus and both sides of the anal area are squeezed. If the secretion is very pasty, this method may be inadequate to empty the sacs.  If the glands are pressed against each other by pinching the rectal area together they will usually express. It is hard to get them as empty as the vet can by doing this rectally but most pets tolerate it better so it can be done more frequently. Don't push so hard that you rupture an anal sac, as this can lead to significant problems. 
Internal Method:
A lubricated gloved finger is inserted in the anus and the sac is squeezed between thumb & forefinger into a tissue held externally. The procedure is repeated on the opposite side.
NOTE:  If the process of squeezing out of the glands is neglected, the glands sometimes become infected and surgery becomes necessary.  This is seldom the case, but if needful at all, it must be entrusted to a skillful veterinary surgeon well experienced with Bulldog's anesthesia requirements.

If the sacs have been emptied adequately, the scooting should resolve in a couple of days.

REFERENCES:
The Complete Bulldog by Bailey C. Hanes copyrighted 1956
Dog Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook by Delbert G. Carlson, D.V.M. and James M. Giffin, M.D.

Article Contributed by Mindy Holmquist

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