Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Something cats and dogs have that we humans do not.....

So what do cats and dogs have that we humans do not possess?


Now as a nurse that regularly partakes in nurse consults I for one can say this is something I see on a daily basis.

Cats and dogs (& other animals) have anal glands, these are two sacs located either side of the rectum. They are located just below the surface of the skin between the internal and external sphincter muscles. Their primary role is to produce an oily liquid that is used for scent marking and identification purposes. Ah ha I hear you all gasp, yes this is the main reason your pets greet each other by smelling each others rear ends.

Now normally when your pet passes faeces these glands naturally empty onto the stool. However sometimes in times of stress these glands can also empty however domesticated pets have lost the ability to empty these glands consciously unlike the skunk. And yes just like the skunk when these glands do express they produce a foul smelling liquid.

Now comes to the part of why us nurses see so many of these on a daily basis. Your pets anal glands have a habit of impacting or basically not emptying. In the short term this isn't too much of a problem, however the fuller they get the more discomfort and even pain they can cause your pet. You may notice your pets 'scooting' its bottom along the floor or constantly trying to clean that area. This is a classic sign that they are just not emptying as they should and they may need a visit to your local vet practice.

Some breeds are more predisposed to this problem than others, personally I see a lot of spaniels and terrier type breeds, rarely I see cats that need this doing but I do on occasion.

The problem can occur because of various reasons, but most commonly your pets stools are too soft so this causes the glands to not naturally empty, your pet being overweight can also predispose this problem. Sometimes its just the basic anatomy of your pet - the anal glands may sit too low and therefore not naturally empty when a stool passes them. If there is a blockage in the duct between the gland and the opening this can also cause the gland to become 'impacted'. This causes the gland to become swollen and irritated. If left this can cause pain and in some cases can cause nasty bacteria to form which can lead to fevers and abscesses. On occasion these abscesses' can rupture creating further problems.

Some pets never encounter this problem, however if you notice any of the signs above, or excessive chewing around the back end its worth a trip to your vets. Once there we will express them for your pet. In some cases where they are too severely impacted, your pet may need some anti-biotics or the glands flushing out - but in my experience 9/10 we can empty them successfully.

PS you'll be pleased to know most nurses love this job, so don't be too embarrassed to take your pet to your vets.
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