Facing the Rear – What’s Back There?

Fourth in a series


It was time to address Chase’s rear. Beyond her side scratching, paw licking, and head rubbing, she was a serious scooter on her painful derriere. I sedated the big girl, thoroughly irrigated her ears, and manually emptied her two angry, pus-filled anal glands.

Consider yourself and your pets fortunate if you’ve never heard of anal glands. Standard equipment on all dogs and cats, these two cesspools of bacteria live beneath the skin at the 4 o’clock and 8 o’clock positions relative to the anus. I know how gross this is; I hope you’re not trying to enjoy breakfast as you digest this information.

Anal glands serve no useful purpose in our pets although for skunks, their very distant relatives, the revolting fluid produced inside them serves as a defensive weapon.

I irrigated Chase’s anal glands and infused them with an antibiotic/antiinflammatory ointment. We sent her home with pain meds and encouraged her person, Miss Manners, to continue at-home ear treatments. There was no doubt we would succeed in improving this special dog’s quality of life but the journey was becoming a long and winding road. Challenging cases make us better doctors but pet parents want results. If our patient didn’t turn the corner soon I would recommend the nuclear option: surgery – at both ends.

Healthy ear canals, with no history of self-trauma or infection, are a truly beautiful thing. The walls are smooth, pale pink, and shiny. Chronic ear infections, on the other hand, create permanent anatomic changes. They can get thick and bumpy enough on the inside to cause deafness. Multiple nooks and crannies develop where organisms set up permanent housekeeping. I wasn’t willing to leave the door open for one more flare-up for this good girl.

On our next follow-up it was clear that Chase’s ears could not evict their nasty residents without a course change. It was time to bring sunshine and fresh air into the picture. Her anal glands? If they didn’t straighten up and fly right, pretty quickly, they would need to go.
Next week: Was it worth all that?
For help with behavior problems, you can sign-up for a Zoom Group Conference on my website, drjeffnichol.com.

Dr. Jeff Nichol is a residency-trained veterinary behaviorist. He provides consultations in-person and in groups by Zoom (505-792-5131). Each week he shares a blog and a video to help bring out the best in pets and their people. Sign up at no charge at drjeffnichol.com. Post pet behavioral or physical questions on facebook.com/drjeffnichol or by US Post to 4000 Montgomery Blvd. NE, Albuq, NM 87109.