Anal Gland need Maintenance; maybe Removal

Question:
I had to have my cat’s analog glands taken out. Since then he has been scooching on carpet. I had him checked for worms. I had them put him on meds for a week but he is still doing it.

Dr. Nichol:
Our pets’ rear ends can be strange and mysterious, so unlike ours. The specialized structures on either side of their anuses, called anal glands, are located in the 4 o’clock and 8 o’clock positions. While this may bring to mind an analog clock face, don’t confuse any of this with a watch dog. All cats and dogs have these odious structures regardless of their skills in home security.

Anal glands are useless and bothersome to our pets but are an essential defensive tool for their distant striped relative, the skunk. Also called anal sacs, they sit beneath the skin and are lined by cells that produce a remarkably foul smelling fluid. When an animal becomes highly stressed or frightened his anal glands can involuntarily squirt from behind. It isn’t pretty.

Anal gland problems don’t haunt every pet but some are bedeviled by this rear end nuisance. Scooting (scooching?) and licking are common red flags. In their early stages the symptoms can usually be alleviated by simply having the glands expressed (emptied) at a veterinary clinic. But if neglected the fluid congeals leading to impacted anal glands. Infection and pain are right around the corner.

Cats and dogs with infected anal glands need to have them irrigated, followed by antibiotic treatment. If this becomes a recurring nightmare surgical removal of these useless structures makes good sense.

A cat without anal glands should have a carefree backside, no longer scooting – unless a portion of a gland was mistakenly left behind during surgery. A discharge and possibly a low-grade infection would result. The only solution would be to redo the procedure.

There may be a different reason for your cat’s carpet scooching. Pin worms, responsible for rear end itching of children and horses, are not feline parasites, but allergies, mange, or external parasites like fleas or ticks could be to blame. Your boy needs to have his rear end reexamined, along with a thorough skin evaluation.

Dr. Jeff Nichol treats behavior disorders at the Veterinary Specialty Centers in Albuquerque and Santa Fe (505-792-5131). He cares for the medical needs of pets at the Petroglyph Animal Hospital in Albuquerque (898-8874). Question? Post it on facebook.com/drjeffnichol or by US Mail to 4000 Montgomery Blvd NE, Albuq, NM 87109. Unpublished questions may not be answered individually.