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What Comes Out the Rear is Just as Important as What Goes in the Mouth     

Dr. Al Townshend

The butt of a dog or cat is not the typical discussion Guardians have about their pets, but it can be an important consideration for their health and well-being.


A Little Anatomy

  • The rectum and anus control the removal of fecal waste from the body. 
  • Numerous nerve endings around the rectum make this part of the body more sensitive than other parts. 
  • There are two anal glands, one on each side of the rectum, that produce a foul-smelling lubricant.


The Scoop on the Poop


  • It is normal for the pet’s regular bowel movement to be easily expelled and of a firm consistency. It is typical to have one or two movements a day. Usually, a pet’s stool is normal; however, when there is a problem, it is important to catch it early to avoid discomfort and costly expenses.
    • Straining to have a bowel movement can indicate a problem.
    • A mucus-coated stool can signify inflammation of the cells in the digestive tract.
    • Small white wiggly pieces on the surface of the stool or long white worms in the stool are signs of internal parasites.
    • Dark, partially digested blood in the stool suggests issues in the intestinal tract.
    • Fresh red blood can be from the rectum itself.
    • Close observation of the stool and the ease of having a bowel movement is essential in detecting problems early.


Prevention and Solutions

  • Like humans, every pet is different, and finding the right food for each pet is essential in assuring a consistently firm stool.
  • Ensure the digestive tract must have all it needs to assure proper and complete digestion of nutrients.
    • Probiotics, prebiotics, and digestive enzymes are all necessary for the best digestion.
  • Regular veterinary checks for internal parasites.
  • Taking all possible steps to prevent the pet from getting into foods and other substances that can upset the gut. Dietary indiscretion is a common cause of changes in the stool.

Arming the pet’s home first-aid kit with probiotics, soothing fiber supplements, and simple antidiarrhea medications can resolve unexpected issues quickly and avoid discomfort, a mess in the home and save an emergency veterinary visit. Be sure to avoid anti-diarrheals that contain aspirin. Visit your local Pet Planet to begin building your pet’s first aid kit.


The Rectum and Area Around the Rectum


  • The rectum should be symmetrical, clean, and slightly pink.
    • Rectal and anal gland tumors appear as lumps on a portion of the rectal tissue and the area around the rectum.
    • Scooting or dragging the rectum across the floor can indicate irritation, enflamed or swollen anal glands, infection, and other potentially serious conditions. A flea infestation can also irritate the sensitive area around the rectum.
  • A pet normally keeps the rectal area clean through grooming. When the site is dirty, or there are feces on the hair around the rectum, it is a sign there is a problem. 
  • Some canine breeds have an increased risk of a Perianal Hernia. Welsh Corgis, Boston Terriers, Boxers, Collies, Kelpies, Dachshunds, Old English Sheepdogs, and Pekingese are at higher risk than other breeds. If there is a bulging around the rectum, a veterinarian must quickly evaluate the condition and the risk to the pet.
  • Anal gland disease is a common condition in smaller canine breeds caused by clogging or infection of glands located on each side of the rectum. There normal smelly liquid is typically squeezed out during defecation. If the sacs become clogged, they swell, become impacted, and can burst to the outside, abscess, and they are extremely uncomfortable for the pet.
    • Some pets require the anal glands be expressed at times. It is not advisable for the Guardian to attempt this. It can be uncomfortable for the pet and the very messy for the Guardian and the home.


Prevention and Solutions

  • Making sure the rectum and area around the rectum are clean, especially after a bowel movement can detect problems early and offer easier and less costly treatments.
    • Frequent checks can detect tumors and swelling early and affords the best solution.
  • Detecting abnormal growths and the pet expressing significant discomfort are indications the pet should be seen by the veterinarian as soon as possible.

It seems that every pet will at some point in their life have digestive issues that are reflected in the rectal area. At Pet Planet, we offer quality foods and supplements to help support healthy digestion.

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