What is Chronic Inflammation of the Rectum or Perineum?
Having chronic inflammation of the rectal area and perineum (perianal fistula) can be an excruciating disorder for your dog. If your dog has perianal fistula, the area around your dog’s anus will become inflamed and sore, may have lesions that can become infected, and can cause incontinence in some dogs. Experts have not found a clear cause of this painful disorder, but is seen most often in certain breeds and dogs older than seven years old. Some studies have also shown that it is more prevalent in male dogs that have not yet been neutered. You may notice a foul smelling liquid from your dog’s anus, leaving spots on the floor or furniture, wherever your dog sits. This liquid is actually from your dog’s anal glands, which are used to leave his scent for identification. You should call your veterinarian if you see these foul liquid stains or if your dog is licking and biting that area more than usual. If left untreated, perianal fistulas will cause more pain and eventually will block the anus so your dog cannot defecate. This is a medical emergency and you must take your dog to the veterinarian or animal hospital.
Chronic inflammation of the rectum and perineum (perianal fistula) causes a bad-smelling and swollen area of the tissues around the anus, called the anal glands. This area may have sores and ulcers, which are painful and can cause infections. This disorder is most often seen in the Golden and Labrador Retriever, German Shepherd, English Sheepdog, Border Collie, Bulldog, Spaniels, and Irish Setter. However, it can affect any breed of dog, both male and female, usually those over seven years old.
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Symptoms of Chronic Inflammation of the Rectum or Perineum in Dogs
- Scooting rear end on the floor
- Licking and biting the affected area
- Matted hair around the anus
- Ulcers and swelling in the anal area
- Difficulty defecating
- Straining to defecate when there is no stool (tenesmus)
- Blood in the stool
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Bad smelling discharge from anus
Causes of Chronic Inflammation of the Rectum or Perineum in Dogs
The real cause of perianal fistulas is still not clear, but many experts suspect it to be an autoimmune disease. Although perianal fistulas can happen in any dog, male or female, at any age, some say it is more prevalent in dogs who carry their tails low and those that have a wide and sloping tail. Studies show that perianal fistulas are most common in older dogs (older than seven years old) and certain breeds, such as:
- Golden Retriever
- Labrador Retriever
- German Shepherd
- English Sheepdog
- Border Collie
- Irish Setter
- English Bulldog
- French Bulldog
- Cocker Spaniel
- Brittany Springer Spaniel
- English Springer Spaniel
- Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
Diagnosis of Chronic Inflammation of the Rectum or Perineum in Dogs
The first thing your veterinarian will do is talk with you about your dog’s medical history. He will need to know every illness your dog has had, how the illness was treated, any changes in personality or changes in food. Your veterinarian will then do a complete and thorough physical examination of your dog, including taking his temperature, listening to his heartbeat, and blood pressure. Some of the tests he will be performing are:
- Rectal examination
- Stool sample
- Urine specific gravity
- Complete blood count (CBC)
- Blood glucose (test for diabetes)
- Blood chemical panel (test for high calcium, urea, phosphate, potassium, creatinine)
- Blood urea nitrogen (BUN)
- Digital radiology (x-rays) of abdomen to check for obstructions or hernias
- Aspiration cytology (cell or tissue sample test)
The veterinarian may also need a biopsy of the area to rule out other disorders.
Treatment of Chronic Inflammation of the Rectum or Perineum in Dogs
The veterinarian will treat your dog depending on the severity of the inflammation and whether there are other complications, such as infection. In the past, the most common treatment for perianal fistula was surgical ablation or fistula deroofing, but these have had more negative results than positive. The side effects of surgery are anal incontinence and recurrence of the fistula. Since then experts have discovered that certain autoimmune drugs work excellent for clearing up the fistula. The veterinarian will probably give your dog Cyclosporine or Prednisone first. If these are not successful, the veterinarian will most often try Azathioprine. A topical medication like Tacrolimus may also be prescribed.
The veterinarian may also prescribe a special diet of protein that your dog has not had before to see if this may help clear up the problem. Sometimes dogs become allergic to foods that they have been eating for a long time. For example, your dog has been eating beef and pork; your veterinarian may prescribe a diet of fish and lamb.
The only reason the veterinarian will suggest surgery is if the condition is severe or if the medication does not help clear up the problem.
Recovery of Chronic Inflammation of the Rectum or Perineum in Dogs
With the medication, your veterinarian will want to monitor your dog’s progress with many follow-up visits. It is essential for the health of your dog to keep all your appointments and to follow your veterinarian’s instructions.
If your dog has surgery, you will have to clean the area daily and apply medicated lotion to prevent infection and other complications. With prompt treatment, your dog has an excellent prognosis.
Chronic Inflammation of the Rectum or Perineum Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
My 13 year pit bull has had this problem. We have tried everything the vet has tried. Her only symptom left is draining from one gland and one fistula that won’t close. She is happy, eats well, no problem with bowel movements but it won’t stop draining.tried everything.nothing works. She has really gotten better since I started probiotics, krill, and turmeric but still one gland keeps draining. She does not scoot, lick or pay any attention to the area. I spend so much time keeping the area clean but people keep telling me it is too much for anyone to deal with and put her down but it does not bother her. I’m at my wits end to clear this up
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I think my dog is suffering from Chronic Inflammation of the Rectum or Perineum. He is 13 years old. Would he be able to fight this condition?
There are various causes for inflammation of the rectum / perineum; the underlying cause will determine the treatment and prognosis. Cocker Spaniels are prone to anal sac problems, particularly with apocrine gland conditions. Causes may be infectious, cancerous, parasitic, allergic or idiopathic in origin. Your Veterinarian would be able to examine Ricky and discuss specific treatment options along with the prognosis. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM
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I have a 14 year old lab that has had this for months now! It was treated at the vets, then when it came back they just ordered more antibiotics! This time it didn't do anything. They offered more antibiotics but I want him to be seen! I'm taking him in on Monday and hope there's something they can do because I KNOW he's suffering! He either paces and pants or sleeps. He also has started going in the house, literally minutes after coming in! We just had to put down his littermate brother this spring and he hasn't been the same since...I don't know if this has anything to do with it but it seems his problems started then.
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