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Smelly ointments, inflatable seat cushions, medicated wipes, oh my! If you’ve ever had hemorrhoids, sometimes called ‘piles’ (especially in the UK), you know they can make your life a miserable, itchy, burning, avoid-sitting-down-at-all-costs experience. If you are among the blessed few who have avoided this fate, you should know that hemorrhoids (piles) are swollen veins in your anus and lower rectum. They can be inside the rectum or outside on the surface of the anus. They are usually caused by having to strain during bowel movements or as a result of increased pressure during pregnancy. Sounds fun, right? About as fun as sitting down in the middle of a campfire!
If you’ve experienced hemorrhoids, you know they can be bad enough that you wouldn’t wish them on anyone. You certainly wouldn’t want any of your loved ones to have to deal with them. This includes your dog, which begs the question, “Can dogs get piles too?”
Can Dogs Get Piles?
Unfortunately for everyone involved, your dog may have the pleasure of experiencing piles too. In other words, there may come a time when you start asking yourself the question, “How am I going to get my dog to sit on an inflatable donut?”
Does My Dog Have Piles?
This is a good question to ask if you’ve noticed that your dog is hesitant to sit or vocalizes when they try to do so. Your pooch may be scooting--dragging their rear end along the carpet or grass. A scooting dog may be funny to watch, but it means that your dog is having rear-end issues of some kind. You may also notice blood spots on the carpet where your dog was sitting or notice blood on the fur around your dog’s hind end. The best way to get a sense of what’s going on with your furry pal is to lift up your dog’s tail and take a look. Nobody likes to be back at the business-end of a dog, but sometimes that is what is required of a loving pet parent.
When looking at your dog’s rear, you might see red or purple bumps or sacks, which could be piles--swollen veins. It’s also possible, however, that your dog could have piles just inside the rectum, so don’t rely completely on a visual inspection. No matter what you find back there, what you really need to do if you want to help your dog feel better is put an old towel down on the car seat and take your dog to see the vet. Your vet knows what to look for and can do a more thorough examination.
How Do I Treat My Dog’s Piles?
Assuming that your vet has diagnosed your dog with piles, there are a few ways your vet may suggest treating the problem. Surgery is very rare for piles, so the following treatments are most likely what will be recommended:
Topical anti-hemorrhoid creams that help alleviate itchy, burning, and swelling
An Elizabethan collar to keep your dog from licking and gnawing on their rear end, which not only causes really bad breath, but can cause irritation and infection
Change in diet to help regulate bowel movements--either soften them or give them more bulk, depending on the problem
Medications to treat an underlying intestinal illness
How Are Piles Similar in Dogs and Humans?
Although the rectum and anus of a dog are set up a little differently than that of a human, there are some similarities between problems, such as piles, that can be somewhat similar.
Whether you’re a human or a dog, hemorrhoids can make you very uncomfortable.
Although not always the case, both dogs and humans can either form piles or have them worsen because of hard stools that are difficult to pass.
Older dogs and older people are both more likely to deal with hemorrhoids on a regular basis than younger dogs and people.
How Are Piles Different in Dogs and Humans?
As mentioned above, there are some anatomical differences between the rear end of a dog and that of a human, which results in there being some differences in the way the two species experience piles.
Piles are less common in dogs than in humans.
Piles are less likely to be caused by dehydration and the resultant strained bowel movements. Dogs’ hemorrhoids are more likely to be the result of an intestinal disease that has caused diarrhea and other complications.
Piles can be a bit more difficult to locate on a dog because there’s more going on back there with a dog than on humans. In addition to a lot of fur, dogs also have anal glands in the vicinity, which can also become swollen, clogged, and irritated.
Your best friend, who happens to be a nine-year-old Chocolate Lab named Baron, has started scooting his rear end on your carpet. To top it off he just had to do it while you had a bunch of neighbors over to watch the big game! He’s had some soft stools lately, so you assume he’s just kind of dirty and itchy. You put him outside and then have to embarrass yourself by scrubbing Baron’s mess off the carpet while everyone is screaming at the referees on TV. As you’re cleaning, though, you notice that it isn’t really poop at all, but blood. You go out back and lift Baron’s tail to find that he has a couple of purplish pockets on his anus. You dab his rear with some paper towels and he whimpers each time you touch him.
The next morning you drive Baron to the vet, who after examining him, notices the same purple areas and tells you that your dog has piles, also called hemorrhoids. What is likely to have happened, your vet says, is that your dog’s recent stomach upset and diarrhea has caused increased blood flow to your dog’s rectum and anus. That, combined with the frequency of bowel movements, seems to have caused some of the blood vessels to puff up.
“Baron is really itchy and probably in a bit of pain,” your vet says. Your vet then gives you some prescription-strength ointment that you will now have the pleasure of applying to your dog’s anus for the next couple of weeks. Thankfully, after rubbing cream on Baron’s anus twice a day for several days, the piles dissipate, Baron feels better, you can spend a lot less time around Baron’s rear end, and your carpet gets a break.