It’s never normal for your furry friend to have discharge from their anus and if you’ve noticed your dog’s butt is leaking, it’s time to call a vet. This issue is something I see with relative frequency in my clinic and it can cause a lot of worry for owners.
The discharge may come out when a dog is passing poo, or just randomly. The owner might notice a foul stench, or their dog may be leaking odourless fluid from the anus. Thankfully, for the majority of patients, this is an issue that is easily remedied.
Bottom leak in dogs: is it serious?
Though it will be unsettling to find your dog is leaking from their anus, you can rest assured that it is not uncommon and rarely serious. There are a range of causes including anal gland disease and diarrhoea.
Let’s take a closer look at the top contenders, and the treatment options available.
Why is there a leak from my dog’s bottom? Top potential causes.
1. Anal gland impaction
Blocked anal glands are really common and we generally see them in smaller breeds and dogs who are obese. Normally, the dog would express their own glands each time they pass a solid poop. When this doesn’t happen, the anal gland fluid may leak out of their bottom onto your furniture or the floor.
Anal gland fluid is quite easily identified as it has a strong, fishy smell. The colour ranges from yellow to dark brown and it can be a watery liquid or a thick paste. If your dog’s glands are full, you may notice they are dragging their bottom along the ground and quickly looking behind at the irritated area. Usually, there is no swelling that is visible on the outside, so your dog’s butt should look normal when examined.
A more seasoned owner may feel comfortable expressing glands at home. This can usually be done with the help of one person to hold the dog still. However, a groomer or vet will always be happy to help out if you’re uncomfortable doing this or aren’t sure you’re emptying the gland fully.
For those prone to ongoing anal gland issues, it pays to learn how to regularly empty the glands yourself. This may need to be done as often as every 6 weeks in some dogs. Having your vet do it only costs about $15-20, but this will certainly add up over the years. On top of this, most pets dislike the ride to the vet and their stay there; so they’d appreciate their glands being expressed quickly from the comfort of their own home!
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2. Anal gland infection/abscess
In cases where anal glands haven’t been expressed when full, this can sometimes lead to an infection developing and a painful abscess forming. This can cause blood, pus and anal gland contents to leak from small holes either side of the anus. You can also see significant swelling and redness on the affected side.
It can be alarming for an owner to notice their dog bleeding for no apparent reason, but the dog is no real danger here. We should bring them to the local vets, where their glands can be emptied and they can be prescribed some antibiotics, anti inflammatories and pain relief. More serious abscesses may need to be drained and flushed under anaetshetic.
From home, we’re a bit limited but can gently bathe the area with salt water, to keep it as clean as possible. It can also help to trim the fur short, to allow better ventilation. If your dog is trying to lick or chew their abscess, protect it by using a buster collar.
3. Diarrhea and overflow
If your dog has diarrhea, you may find that they aren’t always able to hold it in. With severe diarrhea, we can see temporary fecal incontinence. If your dog who has diarrhea is also leaking brown fluid from the anus and it smells like feces, this is likely the case.
The treatment here would be addressing the underlying cause of the diarrhoea. There can be a wide range of causes including parasites, an infection, a food intolerance or an endocrine disorder.
Take a trip to the vet, where they will examine your dog and take a medical history. They might also run some initial diagnostic tests such as a blood test and stool analysis to get a clearer idea of what’s going on.
From home, it helps to feed a bland diet of e.g. chicken and rice alongside water and a rehydration solution. There are also over the counter anti-diarrhoea pastes (such as Pro-Kolin) that can be given, to solidify the stool. Do give your pooch plenty of opportunity to toilet outside and, remember, don’t tell them off for these indoor ‘accidents’ as they really have no control over them.
Colitis is an inflammation of the colon, or lower gut. As well as fluid leaking from the butt, we can see blood in the stool and loose stools. Your dog may be feeling out of sorts and you might pick up on some lethargy as well as a reduced appetite.
One of the hallmarks of colitis is a mucus discharge, which can appear like clear or yellow jelly. We can also see fresh red blood leaking from the butt. This discharge is most often seen right after the dog passes stool.
Colitis is incredibly common with most dogs suffering at least one bout in their lifetime. For some unlucky individuals, they can be prone to more frequent bouts. For these dogs, there is often an underlying issue such as a food intolerance or generalised anxiety.
Disclaimer: This content is not a substitute for veterinary care. Always consult with your vet for health decisions. Learn more.
At home, we can feed a low residue or hypoallergenic diet and keep our dog well hydrated by mixing water with meals and offering them a rehydration solution. Most patients also benefit from prebiotics and probiotics.
Do visit your vet, who can examine your dog to check for the underlying cause. In some cases, dogs need more specific treatment such as antibiotics and/or anti inflammatories.
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