Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Sadie and Anal Sacs? Who Knew?

Last month Sadie was scooting and I thought it was worms--San Diego Rescue gave me some worm meds.  But lately she has really been uncomfortable and I am not seeing any worms, just lots of scooting and restlessness--like did I get any sleep last night?  So I read this and Voila $10 to Pet Smart and Sadie is a happy puppy again!!!  This was written by a Veterinarian... I googled ' why a dog scoots on his butt'.  Anyway, I am writing this down because my memory--you know...

This is only rarely caused by worms. Most dogs who have worms do NOT scoot. (ETA: Dogs absolutely can NOT get pinworms. Not possible. That's a human parasite which does not have the ability to infect dogs or cats. If any worms are going to cause anal itching it will likely be tapeworms, which are caused from swallowing fleas that contain part of the tapeworm lifecycle.)

99% of the time, scooting is caused by the anal SACS (they are NOT glands, even though that's what most people call them!!!!   What are anal sacs? They are very much like the scent glands that skunks have. Nature designed them to fill up with a disgusting-smelling fluid, and to be emptied each time a dog has a bowel movement, thereby 'marking' its territory. Dogs can also forcibly evacuate them when startled by a predator, in order to scare them away. (Again, similar to skunks.) Although the anal-sac 'smell' is one which is quite familiar to anyone who has worked with dogs, each dog has its own individual scent, whether we can pick up on it or not.

The problem is....

That is how nature *intended* it to work for dogs who roamed the wild. Nature did not intend for poodles, Yorkies, Schnauzers, chihuahuas, etc, etc. to roam the wild, however. We humans created all the different breeds, and in selecting the traits for all of them, no one cared/paid any attention to where the anal sacs were located. As a result, in many dogs (especially the smaller breeds), they are not always located in 'exactly' the right place or have the muscles around them developed enough for the dog to do what nature intended. They can't empty them out by having a bowel movement, but the sacs continue to fill up with the disgusting (bacteria-filled) fluid. It's not painful (unless a blockage in the duct occurs, leading to an abscess), but it is uncomfortable to have full anal sacs.


The dog has only 2 other options to try to empty them out. One is by 'scooting' their butt across the floor. The other is by licking. (Which is, btw, the most common cause for coughing/gagging/hacking up phlegm that looks like egg whites in dogs who are not sick. That's because the nasty fluid trickles down the throat, causing chronic tracheitis and tonsilitis.  

Since neither of those 2 solutions is very effective, it is necessary for us humans to help these dogs out by emptying those sacs for them periodically. Some dogs need to have it done every couple of weeks, some every month, some every 6-8 weeks. Each dog is different. Larger breeds seem to have fewer problems, but it can happen in them, too.

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