Anal Sac (Gland) Disease

Dogs and cats have two glands located just inside the anal opening called anal sacs, or anal glands. The glands are normal structures that produce fluid with an unpleasant odor. Under certain circumstances, these sacs can become infected, inflamed, or even cancerous.

Anal Sac Disease Symptoms and Progress

Symptoms vary from pet to pet. In some cases, full sacs may cause irritation that manifests itself in behavioral signs such as scooting licking or chewing to relieve discomfort.

Having the sacs emptied by trained personnel can usually relieve the discomfort if the glands are otherwise normal. Fortunately, this service is available at all of our hospitals.

Use our Hospital Locator to set up an appointment at your nearest Banfield location.

Sacs that are irritated or not able to empty well may become clogged (impacted) which can lead an anal gland abscess. Abscesses are usually very painful, swollen, and may drain.

Cancer can also arise in the glands, producing a swollen or ulcerated mass near the anus.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Anal Sac Disease

Diagnosis is usually based on symptoms, physical examination and laboratory testing, if necessary. Treatment varies with the type and severity of the disease. Infected or inflamed glands may require antibiotics. Abscesses may require surgical drainage and wound care at home in addition to antibiotics. Sacs that cause recurrent problems or become cancerous may need to be surgically removed.

Post-Treatment and Prevention Tips

  • Your pet's anal sacs may need to be expressed frequently by a health care professional.
  • Use all medications as prescribed by your veterinarian.
  • Monitor your pet's progress carefully and have him/her rechecked as directed by your veterinarian.

Learn more

For more information on this condition, feel free to download our Anal Sac (Gland) Disease handout or watch our video overview

If you have any other questions, we encourage you to talk with your local Banfield veterinarian to discuss treatment and prevention in greater detail.