For many of us, hemorrhoids may just appear to be the childishly amusing subject of innumerable daytime television commercials and medical clinic pamphlets, but for some people, they can be an embarrassing and even potentially debilitating problem. Hemorrhoids are enlarged blood vessels within the anus, which over time become distended and eventually start to hang out of the anal sphincter itself. Often, they will be a source of nagging irritation but in some cases, they will cause the sufferer a significant amount of pain and have a large impact on their daily activities. However, are dogs at risk of developing hemorrhoids in the same manner that humans are?
Can Dogs Get Hemorrhoids?
The answer is yes, although the chances are much smaller and the condition can often be confused with other medical problems that commonly afflict the dog’s rear end. If you suspect that your dog may be developing hemorrhoids, it is best practice to keep them well-hydrated in order to make excreting feces more comfortable and provide them with a soft surface to sit on, so as not to irritate the growths.
Does My Dog Have Hemorrhoids?
A hemorrhoid can be quite uncomfortable for the animal in question, so it is best to identify the problem early on so that it does not become more painful as time goes on. You will be able to recognize the presence of hemorrhoids if the dog is displaying signs such as bleeding from the rectum, pain or discomfort when attempting to sit, or if the animal is trying to stop minor irritation such as itching by dragging its rear across the ground. The hemorrhoids themselves will sometimes be visible outside of the anus, having an inflamed, dark purple or reddish hue when viewed under natural light. Severe cases of the problem can also lead to visible bleeding of varying degrees. In dogs, the condition is often caused by irritation of the bowel and intestine, causing increased blood flow to the area resulting in the over-enlargement of some blood vessels in the wall of the anus. These blood vessels are, in turn, either pushed out of the sphincter by muscle contractions or dragged out by fecal matter being passed out of the dog. In order to diagnose hemorrhoids, a vet will usually only need to complete a physical examination of the dog, though further testing may be needed in order to determine the root cause of the issue.
How Do I Treat My Dog’s Hemorrhoids?
After the vet has made a thorough assessment of your dog’s condition, they will be able to recommend a suitable course of treatment. Ordinarily, vets will be hesitant to perform surgery on the growths, as this can result in complications such as damage to the anus or bacterial infections. As such, direct physical intervention is considered a last resort, with less invasive methods being strongly preferred in all but the most severe and debilitating of cases. Instead, the vet will use treatments such as topical creams to ease the irritation and shrink the hemorrhoid and dietary supplements can be used to tackle the root cause of the issue. Supplements can also be used to soften the dog’s feces in order to lessen their effect on the growth. Over time, the blood vessel should return to a semblance of its normal state, allowing the dog to resume normal activity and letting you make the necessary changes to their lifestyle in order to prevent the condition from reoccurring.
During the recovery period, it may be necessary for the dog to wear a protective collar in order to prevent it from biting at the hemorrhoids and further aggravating them. Measures should also be taken to prevent them from dragging their bottom across the floor in a bid to sooth the irritation, as this too can cause problems.
How Are Hemorrhoids Similar In Dogs and Humans?
Although there are clear differences between the ways in which dogs and members of other species suffer from the condition, there are some clear parallels to be found.
In all animals, if hemorrhoids are left untreated and the root cause is not resolved, there is a high probability that the condition will get worse. This can lead to extreme discomfort, internal bleeding and bacterial infections.
Hardened stools can be a cause and aggravating factor for the growths, meaning that all animals can benefit from more fiber being added to their diet in order to aid the passing of feces.
Older animals are especially susceptible to hemorrhoids, mainly as a result of poor dietary habits and an increased incidence of other potentially related health problems such as gastrointestinal issues.
How Are Hemorrhoids Different In Dogs and Humans?
Despite the similarities between hemorrhoids found in various species, the physiological disparity between them can result in some crucial differences.
While humans and many other mammals will typically develop hemorrhoids as a result of a poor diet or chronic dehydration making it necessary to strain in order to pass feces (resulting in an enlargement of blood vessels around the anus), dogs will commonly develop the problem due to intestinal diseases causing long-lasting irritation of the anus and will normally not respond as badly to dehydration, etc.
Whilst the condition is usually quite easy to self-diagnose in humans due to its distinctive appearance, dogs have a number of other structures surrounding the anus, meaning that other problems (such as inflamed glands or even tumors) are often mistaken for hemorrhoids.
One of the ways in which severe cases of hemorrhoids are treated in humans is via the use of a rubber band to constrict the blood vessel and lessen its capacity, making it shrink down quite quickly. Due to the self-control needed to not disturb the band however, this method is rarely used on dogs.
An elderly German shepherd is presented to a vet clinic with what appears to be a swollen anal gland that is causing it a fair amount of discomfort. Upon closer inspection, however, it is revealed that the problem mass is, in fact, a hemorrhoid that is hanging out of the anus itself. In order to resolve the immediate irritation felt by the dog, the vet prescribes an anti-hemorrhoid cream that will both soothe the itching and help shrink the blood vessel back down.
Further investigation reveals that due to the fact that it is recovering from a recent serious stomach illness, the dog has only been eating dried foods with a low nutritional value for the past few months. To help rectify this, the vet prescribes a dietary fiber supplement and recommends a meal plan to get the dog used to eating its normal healthy food again. Within a month, the hemorrhoid has shrunk back down and the dog is pain free.