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What is Anal Sac Disease?

The anal sacs are located on either side of the anus at the four o’clock and eight o’clock positions. These small pouches store an oily, foul-smelling fluid that is secreted during defecation, but can also be released to mark territorial boundaries and ward off predators. The anal sacs--more appropriately called the anal glands--are sometimes impacted or infected by bacteria. The condition affecting the feline’s anal glands can soon worsen and result in an anal sac abscess or rupture, which requires prompt veterinary attention. 

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Anal Sac Disease Average Cost

From 289 quotes ranging from $200 - $3,000

Average Cost

$800

Symptoms of Anal Sac Disease in Cats

The symptoms associated with anal sac disease in cats depends on the severity and nature of the problem. In any case, anal sac disease is a painful condition and can make even the gentlest feline display aggression. The first sign a cat owner will notice is scooting, rubbing, licking or biting of the rear portion of the body. As the condition worsens, additional clinical signs can include: 

  • Scooting of the rump along the ground
  • Rubbing or licking the anal area
  • Localized pain 
  • Irritation 
  • Inflammation 
  • Swelling 
  • Redness of the anal tissues 
  • Bloody discharge from around the anus 
  • A fishy odor
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Causes of Anal Sac Disease in Cats

Anal sac disease in cats can be caused by bacterial infection and/or gland impaction.

Bacteria can infect the anal sacs due to the close proximity of the glands to the anus. Feces naturally contains healthy bacteria from inside the colon, which can travel into the ducts during a bowel movement. The anal sacs do not contain healthy bacteria and soon become infected. 

The original purpose of the anal sacs was to allow the feline to mark his/her territory and ward off predators. However, due to the domestication of our felines today, most do not find a need to mark territory and go unthreatened by predators. Therefore, underuse of the glands can lead to an over accumulation of the oily fluids, which impacts the gland. Obese felines are at a high risk for developing anal sac impaction. 

Solid stools are required in order for the gland contents to be expelled. Chronic diarrhoea and diets low in fibre can contribute to anal gland disease.

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Diagnosis of Anal Sac Disease in Cats

The clinical signs of anal sac disease commonly point the veterinarian in the direction of an anal sac complication. However, intestinal parasites such as the tapeworm, can also cause a few similar symptoms to anal sac disease (scooting and biting or licking of the anal area) and will be ruled out as part of the differential diagnosis. The veterinarian may request a fecal floatation test to rule out parasites, but most anal sac disease cases are detected on physical examination.

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Treatment of Anal Sac Disease in Cats

The treatment of anal sac disease in cats depends on whether the problem is caused by impactions or infections, and if the condition has progressed to an abscess or rupture. In all cases, the feline will be prescribed pain management medication for several days not only to alleviate pain, but inflammation and swelling as well. 

Anal Sac Impaction

Disease caused by anal sac impaction will need to be manually expressed by a veterinary professional. Anal sac expression may require an anesthetic and is carried out by gently squeezing each sac. The veterinarian, technician, or assistant may complete anal expression as they are trained professional. Anal expression should never be completed at home or by a groomer, trainer, or other unlicensed professional, as anal sac rupture may occur or the gland may not be fully emptied.

Anal Sac Infection

Disease of the anal sacs caused by infection will require expression and antibiotics to eliminate the bacteria. The veterinarian may choose the flush out the infected sacs depending on the specific case at hand. 

Anal Sac Abscess 

Disease of the anal sacs that has progressed to an abscess will require lancing and flushing the affected area. This procedure will likely require sedation and will be carried out by the veterinarian. Cats should wear buster collars to prevent them over-grooming the irritated area, which can delay healing.

Anal Sac Rupture

Disease of the anal sacs that has cause the glands to rupture requires surgical treatment. The glands may be repaired or removed depending on the specific case at hand. Rupture of the gland is very rare.

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Recovery of Anal Sac Disease in Cats

Anal sac disease in cats that was caused by impaction or infection and did not progress has a very positive outlook. The condition may reoccur, which is why it is important to revisit your veterinarian and discuss prevention methods of anal sac disease in your cat.  

Felines that have undergone anal sac surgery may experience a lack of bowel control following surgery. Luckily, this complication is not common. The nerves used to control the muscles surrounding the anal sphincter are manipulated during the surgical process, causing inappropriate defecation while walking, sleeping or laying down. In most cases, this behavior of inappropriate defecation will improve with healing and is only a temporary problem. However, severe rupture cases or abscess that have been left untreated may leave the feline unable to control bowel movements for life.

Anal sac disease can be expensive to treat. To avoid high vet care expenses, secure pet health insurance today. The sooner you insure your pet, the more protection you’ll have from unexpected vet costs.

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Anal Sac Disease Average Cost

From 289 quotes ranging from $200 - $3,000

Average Cost

$800

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Anal Sac Disease Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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Tuxedo cat

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6 weeks

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Unknown severity

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1 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Had Hard Time To Poop ,

What does my kitten have , his anus stinks and poop get stuck inside of it , today I saw white discharge coming out .

Aug. 5, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. It is likely that he has intestinal parasites that are probably causing problems. Kittens don't tend to need carrots, and it may help also to feed him a kitten food. Having him seen by a veterinarian to check a stool sample would be a good idea. I hope that all goes well for him.

Aug. 5, 2020

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Aidi

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Twelve Weeks

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Unknown severity

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2 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Tarry Stool

Hello, I recently rescued a stray kitten from my neighborhood. He did get all of his shots. However, he has had a anal rupture. He has already had 2 surgeries this week where the vet stitched it back together. He has a cone and pain medication. I went to go check on him earlier today and his butt is out again. What would be the next option ? I cannot afford a colon surgery😕.

Aug. 2, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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2 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I'm not sure what exactly you mean by anal rupture, unfortunately, without seeing him. If he is having a prolapse, he may need to have the suture in place for a longer period of time. Without knowing more about what you're describing, it is difficult to say what the next step might be. It would probably be a good idea to call your veterinarian, let them know what is going on, and see what they would recommend as they have seen him and know more about his situation. I hope that everything goes okay for him and he feels better soon.

Aug. 2, 2020

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Anal Sac Disease Average Cost

From 289 quotes ranging from $200 - $3,000

Average Cost

$800

Vet bills can sneak up on you.

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