A young Boston terrier was brought recently. The owner’s complaint was that she is scooting her rear end on the floor (and on the furniture.. and on pillows). She will suddenly have a horrible fishy smell (as well as the floor, furniture, pillows). According to the owner, this has been happening with increased frequency becoming a real problem.
On our examination we found that the dog has impacted anal glands causing these problems. Anal glands are two small pockets of fluid on either side of the anus. Their purpose is to mark their individual scent when they defecate. The glands are similar, but not as specialized, as a skunk's scent glands. Normally, these glands are emptied when the dog defecates. Occasionally, some of the fluid is left behind and starts to thicken. This thick paste can plug the opening of the gland causing more fluid to back up. In a short period of time the pressure can build causing discomfort. This is when the dog will scoot her back side on the ground or other objects in attempt to manually express the gland.
Veterinarians and dog groomers routinely express anal glands on a regular basis as part of pet hygiene. Adding fiber to your pet’s diet may be helpful for them to express their glands normally. During allergy season, dog’s anal glands may more frequently become inflamed along with other skin conditions in allergic dogs. If the condition is not addressed, the gland can become infected and abscess which can result in a ruptured anal gland.
In our Boston terrier’s case,her anal glands were getting expressed multiple times in a week yet she was still scooting at home. On the most recent visit there were signs of infection needing a course of antibiotics. At this time the owners decided to have the anal glands removed. This is not considered a routine procedure, it requires a skilled surgeon, and a discussion was had about aftercare and possible complication. We decided to go forward, and surgery went very well without complication.
Post-operative pain management was essential for the first few days after the surgery including systemic and topical medications. Antibiotics are needed to prevent infection. A stool softener can be very helpful during this time as well. Five days after the surgery, she is nearly fully recovered and having normal bowel movements.
The sutures used are small and will dissolve over time. She should have happy anal gland free life. The owners are very pleased their smelly problem could be completely eliminated.