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What is Perianal Gland Tumor?

The perianal glands are sebaceous-like structures in the perianal skin of dogs, located close to the anus. Perianal gland tumors originate from these glands, and most commonly develop in intact, older dogs and spayed females. While benign tumors are generally harmless and can be easily treated, the malignant variety can create life-threatening conditions for your dog, and will need to be treated aggressively.

Perianal gland tumors develop close to, or directly on, the anus in dogs, and originate from the perianal glands.  These tumors can be single or multiple nodules in the skin that can be benign or malignant, and can cause symptoms that involve elimination. If hypercalcemia is also present, your dog can also suffer from kidney issues that can lead to failure.

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Symptoms of Perianal Gland Tumor in Dogs

The presence of a perianal gland tumor is usually not painful for your dog, but it can cause your dog to pay a lot of attention to that area. While these nodules can grow without any symptoms for months or years, they can eventually rupture and bleed, leaving your dog susceptible to infections. Tumors may appear as single or multiple masses in the anal area, and can create a thickened ring around the anus. Signs include:

  • Round, nodules in the skin near anus
  • Thickened ring of tissue surrounding anus
  • Bleeding nodules
  • Excessive licking of the anal area
  • Scooting rear end on ground
  • Colorectal obstruction 
  • Rectal pain
  • Protruding rectal mucous membrane 
  • Straining to defecate 
  • Bloody feces 
  • Vomiting blood
  • Increased thirst
  • Increased urination 
  • Decreased appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Reduced exercise tolerance 
  • Growth on the testes
  • Hypercalcemia, or elevated blood calcium levels

Types

  • Perianal gland tumors are categorized as benign adenomas and malignant carcinomas
  • Benign adenomas are masses of the perianal glands that are not classified as cancerous and do not spread

Malignant carcinomas, or adenocarcinomas, are also masses of the perianal glands. These are uncommon cancerous masses that are hard to distinguish from benign adenomas, but can spread to other locations in the body and cause hypercalcemia, or increased blood calcium levels that can lead to kidney failure. Malignant carcinomas require more intensive diagnostic testing and treatments, therefore it is necessary to determine if your dog’s tumors are malignant.

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Causes of Perianal Gland Tumor in Dogs

While the definitive cause of perianal gland tumors is still unknown, testosterone is believed to influence cell proliferation in the glands. Male dogs have an increased risk compared to females in developing these tumors. For females, adrenocortical hormones may play an important role in tumor growth. 

Additionally, genetic factors may also influence the possible progression of this type of tumor. Breeds who seem to be at a higher risk include:

  • Beagles
  • Cocker Spaniels
  • English Bulldogs
  • Samoyed breeds 
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Diagnosis of Perianal Gland Tumor in Dogs

A physical exam can help your veterinarian determine if the masses or nodules on your dog’s anal area may be tumors. Often a urinalysis is performed, as well as blood work that can reveal an elevated blood calcium level, a sign of these types of growths. 

Many perianal gland tumors will be benign, but a small percentage of these growths can be malignant. A tissue sample by a fine-needle aspirate or by a surgical biopsy will be examined under the microscope to determine what kind of tumor your dog has. Chest and abdominal X-rays and ultrasounds can also help to determine of the tumors have spread, such as to the lymph nodes or prostate gland.

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Treatment of Perianal Gland Tumor in Dogs

Treatment for these tumors can vary, and can be more difficult if they have spread. Treatment for tumors that are diagnosed as malignant aims to improve your dog’s quality of life, while benign masses can be completely resolved. 

For intact, male dogs, the primary treatment is the removal of one or both testes. This eliminates much of the testosterone, which can result in regression of small and benign tumors. Your dog is monitored after castration to assess if further removal is necessary. 

In both male and female dogs, small tumors can also be removed with cryotherapy, which freezes off the masses. For larger or malignant tumors, surgical removal may be necessary. Fecal incontinence can result from surgery due to damage to the sphincter muscle which is next to the perianal gland. 

Chemotherapy and radiation therapy may also be prescribed in addition to castration, and are generally given over several weeks. Estrogen therapy can be administered to shrink tumors, and is used especially in cases where castration is not an option in male dogs. A side effect of estrogen therapy is a life threatening condition of bone marrow suppression.

Supportive treatments can include soothing creams for irritated anal skin, and medications to reduce blood calcium levels, improve kidney function, and alleviate pain and nausea.

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Recovery of Perianal Gland Tumor in Dogs

For benign perianal gland tumors, recovery is very good. Neutering leads to a complete regression in 95% of these cases. Your dog may need post-operative care, and should be seen by your veterinarian in 1 to 3 months to monitor tumor regression. In a small percentage of cases, tumors may recur, but can be treated. 

If your dog has a malignant tumor, post-operative care may be longer and more intense. You may need to monitor your dog for complications, such as infections and fecal incontinence. Your dog may need frequent veterinary visits for treatments. Recovery is poor, as many dogs can die from the effects of the tumors within a year from diagnosis, or are euthanized.

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Perianal Gland Tumor Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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cho

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Ten Years

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2 found helpful

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My dog has a big mass above tail going towards Anas amd spin and it's hard and she keeps licking and biting it

Jan. 14, 2021

Owner

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Dr. Maureen M. DVM

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2 Recommendations

Hi, There are many types of body swellings. The mass can be an abscess(accumulation of pus), hematoma(blood), seroma(serum), lipoma(fat), or a tumor. Visiting your vet may be the best thing to do for proper diagnosis and treatment. Good luck

Jan. 14, 2021

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Norfolk Terrier

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Twelve Years

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0 found helpful

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Hello, My dog has had a small lump underneath his anus for about a year now. It has only grown slightly, recently. About the size of a dime. It does not bother him and he does not scoot or anything. I am concerned though, that it may grow larger and pop.

Jan. 3, 2021

Owner

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Dr. Sara O. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Hello if it is growing it is best to have it removed.

Jan. 3, 2021

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Miniature Schnauzer

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Eight Years

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1 found helpful

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Redness

right next to her anal there is a red bump that is kind of large and she has had some of her poop spill out is there a way to treat this at home

Dec. 11, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Linda S. MVB MRCVS

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Thank you for this photo. This is a large swelling. This may be a hernia, tumour, large abscess or something else. She does need to be seen by a vet and may need some imaging such as an xray or ultrasound. Treatment will then depend on what we find.

Dec. 11, 2020

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Heeler mix

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Seventeen Years

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4 found helpful

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Fatty Tumor On Her Butt

My dog has had this fatty tumor about 10 years. It finally grew large enough to split and bleed. It’s about the size of a normal egg. The main issue is all the diagnosis I was told or plan of action is to surgically remove it but she is 17 and I don’t want the surgery to kill her. But at this point the tumor is bleeding. All the time. She doesn’t show discomfort or seem to care when I am cleaning it or bandaging it.

Sept. 28, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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4 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. If you are not comfortable with the surgery to remove it, you have the option to keep it clean, and covered, and that may be how she lives. I doubt there are any other therapies for a bleeding tumor other than surgical removal, but that may not be something that you opt to do. You can discuss with your veterinarian that you do not want her to have the surgery, and see if there is anything that they can recommend to help keep it clean, since it will likely not get better. I hope that all goes well and she continues to have a happy life!

Oct. 4, 2020

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Bichon Frise

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Fourteen Years

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Noisy Breathing

Wondering what this pink/red lump is

Sept. 25, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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Thank you for your question. I apologize for the delay, this venue is not set up for urgent emails. It would be best to have your pet seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine them, see what might be going on, and get any testing or treatment taken care of that might be needed.

Oct. 21, 2020

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Sam

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Pit bull

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11 Years

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Mild severity

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Mild severity

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Diarrhea

My 11 year old male pit bull has been having issues with defecating recently, and often will have diarrhea, his anus will sometimes bleed because of it. We clean it whenever that happens, and today when cleaning it i noticed there was a large red bump about the size of a dime protruding from the left side of his anal cavity. He is a healthy dog, but he is getting older. From what I’ve seen online I think it could be a tumor but I haven’t found an exact match to what I saw on him so I am not sure.

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Eunice

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India Street Dog

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9 Years

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Peri-Anal Tumor

My spayed female dog had a peri-anal mass removed and the lab report state" benign adnexal tumor, peri anal tumor upper margin, lower margin and deep resection margin are not free. Lateral margins are free" Does this mean she has an adenocarcinoma? We live in Myanmar now and don't have access to very modern veterinary care. Can you recommend our best way to move forward? She seems completely fine and pain-free. Thank you.

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Rusty

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Retriever cross

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11 Years

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Critical severity

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Drops Of Blood After Bowel Movement

Took my 11 year old fur baby (retriever cross) to vet last night because of drops of bright red blood while defecating. Was told perianal tumour is the size of a grapefruit, he is not expected to live 6 months. Blood work was done and all is normal, including calcium levels. He is happy dog, still eating, enjoying his walks, smiling, urinating as before and normal stools, except for the drops of blood. He is not bothered by the tumour, doesn't lick the area and is not drinking any more than normal. He weighs 65lbs. Is surgery a good option? Any experience re: life expectancy if nothing further (besides comfort care) is done? Thank you.

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Toby

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Paperanian

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12 Years

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Mild severity

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Limping

Hi. While washing my dog, I noticed a small lump at the 12 o’clock position of his anus, with the size of a pin needle. It was covered in hard feces, so that may have caused the condition?! Doesn’t seem to create any discomfort for him while squeezing it. However, prior to that and within a month from his last monthly wash, I noticed weakness in his rear legs when he first starting to get up from a longer (say, 30 to 60min) rest. It only last a few seconds/steps, before he can walk and run as usual. I have inspected/squeezed his legs and checked his paws, there doesn’t to be any discomfort. Q: Would that small lump have anything to do with his slight weaknesses in his legs? As it appeared around the same time with his leg Symptoms? Thank you Doctor

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vegas

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American cocker spaniel

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12 Years

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Moderate severity

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3 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Large Bump On His Anus

Hi i have a 12years old American cocker who has a very large lump on his anus it has got alot bigger in the last few months we did take him to the vets but they said if they did operate he would be incontinence which would not be very nice.It does bleed sometimes but i have not got any money to have this done they would not let me pay money every month so should i have him put down he does not seem to be in pain just it does not look very nice as its so big.Help

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