Every time my dog Gryphon poops, he tweets #GryphonWasHere. Now, don’t misunderstand. Gryphon does not carry around a phone and update his status with every bowel movement. He lets the world know the old fashioned way – he expresses his anal sacs.
The anal sacs are two nifty little structures that are located just beyond the anal opening in dogs and cats. If we imagine the anus as the face of a clock, the anal sacs are positioned at 4 and 8 o’clock. They contain fluid that gets released every time feces mosey on down the rectum to the anus, and then out into the great big world beyond. The purpose of this fluid? Simply to mark territory. To tell other dogs and cats, “Listen up, this is my neighbourhood!” (or in Gryphon’s case “Hey everybody, come play with me!”).
Occasionally the anal sacs can become impacted, infected or abscessed. Early signs of trouble can include scooting and/or excessive licking at the hind end. Common causes of anal sac problems include food allergies, seasonal allergies and diarrhea. Some dogs need to have the anal sacs manually expressed on a regular basis to prevent impaction.
Thankfully, most dogs and cats never experience any trouble with their anal sacs, nature’s original form of social media!