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Is Your Dog's Anus Red or Inflamed? Here's what you need to know - PawSafe

Is Your Dog’s Anus Red or Inflamed? Here’s what you need to know

Photo of Tamsin De La Harpe

Written by Tamsin De La Harpe

is dog's anus red or inflamed

The topic of a red and inflamed doggie behind is not exactly glamorous, but it’s still a vital one for pet parents. You know, the kind of stuff that makes your dog scoot across the floor or constantly lick their backside. Yup, we’ve all been there.

I’ve got a personal connection to this issue because I recently rescued a sweet pup named Penny, who’s dealing with a particularly tricky case involving anal tumors and a prolapse. It’s been quite the journey, and I want to share my experiences and the knowledge I’ve gathered through the expertise of several veterinarians and expert sources like Dr. Craig Ruaux BVSc and Dr. Milan Milovancev DVM on rectoanal diseases.

So, in this article, we’ll be delving into the various causes of a red and inflamed dog’s anus, which can range from anal sac disease, growths, tumors, injuries, infections, polyps, prolapse, and even those pesky parasites. We’ll discuss how to diagnose the problem and explore the treatment options available if you notice any redness, bleeding, swelling, or discharge from your dog’s bottom.

Maintaining good hygiene and monitoring your pet’s well-being can help prevent and address this uncomfortable issue. If you’ve noticed that your dog’s bum is red or inflamed, it’s important to understand the potential causes.

In most cases, anal gland issues could be the culprit. Anal glands are small sacs located on either side of the anus that can become impacted or infected, causing pain and inflammation. Dogs may also experience anal discharge or leak clear fluid or get anal gland abscesses, which can lead to more serious health issues if left untreated.

Understanding Your Dog’s Rectal Health

Taking care of your dog’s health is crucial to ensure a happy and long life. One area that is often overlooked is their anus health. A red or inflamed anus in dogs can be a sign of various health issues, including allergies, infections, or even tumors.

A big sign of rectum issue is scooting  their butts on the ground, so make sure to read our article on home remedies for dog scooting.

As a dog owner, it’s important to keep an eye on your furry friend’s anus health. Look out for any redness, swelling, or discharge around the area. If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s best to take your dog to the vet for a check-up.

To prevent any potential issues, it’s recommended that you clean your dog’s anus regularly. You can use a damp cloth or wipes specifically designed for dogs. Make sure to clean the area gently and avoid using any harsh chemicals or soaps. Make sure to trim any excess fur away from the area to prevent feces building up in the fur and causing matting.

Another way to maintain your dog’s anus health is by ensuring they have a balanced diet. A healthy diet can help prevent digestive issues that can lead to problems in the anus area. Make sure to provide your dog with high-quality food that contains all the necessary nutrients. Fiber is often key to reducing anal sac impactions, which we’ll discuss further below.

12 Causes of Redness or Inflammation

As with any part of the body, when we notice signs of irritation, like redness, swelling, heat, inflammation, or discharge, quite a few things could be the cause of the  problem.

Before going further though, we need to differentiate between the rectum and anus of a dog, because disorders in both can cause visible inflammation. But the anus and the rectum are not the same thing.

Think of the rectum as a holding area in a dog’s body where poop is stored before it’s ready to come out. It’s like a little storage room. The anus, on the other hand, is like the door to that storage room. When it’s time for the dog to go to the bathroom, the anus is the exit point where the poop comes out. It’s got special muscles that control when the poop gets released. So, the rectum holds the poop, and the anus is the door where it comes out when the dog needs to go.

In other words, the anus is the part of the dog’s digestive tract that you can see, but medical problems that affect it can start a little behind it, in the rectum.

So we’re going to go over all the main reasons a dog’s anus may be painful or swollen.

1. Anal Sac Disease

Dr. Stanley Rubin, DVM writes that if you notice that your dog’s anus is red or inflamed, it could be a sign of anal sac disease. This is extremely common, with one study finding that it affects about 5% of dogs. Anal sacs are small glands located on either side of your dog’s anus that produce a foul-smelling fluid. 

When these sacs become blocked or infected, they can cause discomfort and irritation for your dog, and can also result in abscesses. In severe cases, anal sacs can become cancerous.

Some common signs and symptoms of impacted anal glands include:

  • Scooting; 
  • Licking or biting at the anus; and 
  • A strong odor coming from the area.

When impacted, anal sacs feel like two hard lumps.

When the anal sacs become infected or for an abscess, you may notice:

  • A lot of pain, especially while pooping;
  • Visible sores or bleeding;
  • Discharge;
  • Discoloration; and
  • Possible tumors (usually only felt when the vet examines the area.

In severe cases, your dog may also develop a fever and become lethargic if they have an infection.

If you suspect that your dog has anal sac disease, it’s important to take them to the vet for a proper diagnosis and treatment. Treatment may include antibiotics, manually expressing the glands, anti-inflammatory medication, or even surgery to remove the affected glands.

According to Dr. Anton Beynan, anal sac impactions are most common in dogs in an all meat diet, and this means that adding fiber to a dog’s diet may help the anal sacs expel more naturally. This can be as simple as adding a little psyllium husk. Some chewable fiber supplements that contain apple fiber and pumpkin seed powder also seem to be quite effective.

It’s also worth noting that your dog’s diet can play a role in the development of anal sac impactions. A fiber-rich diet can help promote anal sac emptying and prevent blockages and we’ll discuss this more below.

2. Yeast infections & Allergies

First things first, let’s get to know Malassezia, a type of yeast that often affects a dog’s ears or skin, especially the armpits and groin. It’s a type of yeast that naturally hangs out on your dog’s skin, ears, and even their anal sacs. Usually  it’s not a problem, but sometimes things can get a bit out of balance, leading to a yeast party you’d rather not have in your dog’s behind.

Of course, when there is an overgrowth of yeast around the anal sacs, this causes inflammation in the skin, called yeast dermatitis. There are many reasons this happens, but the most common is probably allergies to food or something in your dog’s environment.

So, how do you know if your pup’s dealing with a Malassezia yeast infection down there? Keep an eye out for these telltale signs:

  1. Redness and Inflammation: The area around their anus might look redder than usual and swollen. The skin may also thicken or become discolored over time. Imagine how uncomfortable that must be!
  2. Itchiness: Your dog might start scooting or scratching their rear end obsessively. It’s not just for laughs; it’s a sign something’s bothering them.
  3. Unpleasant Odor: Yep, yeast infections can have a bit of a stinky side effect. You might notice a not-so-pleasant odor coming from that area.
  4. Discharge: In some cases, there might be a discharge – not something you want to see when cleaning up after your pup.

Treatment for this kind of infection in the anal area involves seeing a vet for topical creams, ointments, or oral medications to combat the yeast. Always follow their instructions to a T.

Thereafter, you need to focus on keeping that area clean and making changes to the diet if necessary

3. Perianal Fistula

Perianal fistula is a condition that affects dogs, and it can cause the anus to become red and inflamed, and it’s most common in middle aged German Shepherds. Some common signs and symptoms of perianal fistula include:

  • Pain and discomfort around the anus;
  • Swelling and inflammation of the anus;
  • Redness and irritation of the skin around the anus;
  • Difficulty defecating or urinating; and
  • Foul-smelling discharge from the anus.

If you notice any of these symptoms in your dog, it is important to seek veterinary care as soon as possible. Your vet may recommend a treatment plan that includes medications like Cyclosporine and Tacrolimus, which can help to reduce inflammation and promote healing.

In addition to medication, your vet may also recommend changes to your dog’s diet and lifestyle to help manage the condition. This may include feeding your dog a high-fiber diet, providing plenty of opportunities for exercise and play, and ensuring that your dog has access to clean drinking water at all times.

With proper care and treatment, most dogs with perianal fistula are able to recover and lead happy, healthy lives. So this cause is usually not too problematic.

4. Rectal Prolapse

A rectal prolapse in dogs is a medical condition where the inner lining of the rectum protrudes through the anus, often creating a reddish or pink mass that can be seen externally. This condition can be distressing for both the dog and its owner. In the picture above, you can see a rectal prolapse as it was presented in my new foster mixed breed, Penny.

Rectal prolapses can occur for various reasons, such as straining during bowel movements, chronic diarrhea, constipation, or underlying health issues. Puppies, in particular, are more susceptible to rectal prolapses because their rectal tissues may not be fully developed.

When a rectal prolapse occurs, it is important to seek immediate veterinary attention. The veterinarian will conduct a thorough examination to determine the extent of the prolapse and identify any underlying causes. In some cases, they may gently clean and lubricate the exposed tissue to reduce swelling and attempt to push it back into place. However, this is typically a temporary solution, as rectal prolapses often reoccur if the underlying issue is not addressed.

Treatment for rectal prolapse in dogs may involve addressing the root cause, such as managing diarrhea or constipation, and sometimes surgery may be necessary to correct the problem. Surgical options include procedures to secure the rectal tissue back in place and, if necessary, to remove any damaged or dead tissue. Post-surgery care and monitoring are essential to ensure the dog’s full recovery. Overall, rectal prolapses in dogs should not be ignored, and prompt veterinary intervention is crucial to provide the best chances of a successful outcome and prevent further discomfort or complications for the affected pet.

5. Perianal Tumors

Tumors are growths that develop around the anus and can be both benign or malignant, and sadly, this can often cause  According to Dr. Stanley, research shows that unneutered male dogs are 3 to 10 times more likely to get these tumors in their anal region than female dogs, and if you neuter the dog, the tumors can go away on their own.

The signs and symptoms of perianal tumors can vary depending on the type and stage of the tumor. Some common symptoms include:

  • Welling; 
  • Redness; 
  • Discharge; and 
  • Discomfort while defecating. 

In some cases, the tumor may also cause a dog to lick or bite at the affected area excessively.

If you suspect that your dog has a perianal tumor, it is important to consult with a veterinarian as soon as possible. The vet will conduct a physical exam and may recommend further tests such as a biopsy or imaging to determine the type and stage of the tumor.

Treatment for perianal tumors may include surgery, radiation therapy, or chemotherapy. The appropriate treatment will depend on the type and stage of the tumor, as well as the overall health of the dog.

In summary, perianal tumors can be a possible cause of redness or inflammation around a dog’s anus. If you notice any signs or symptoms of a perianal tumor, it is important to consult with a veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment.

6. Foreign Bodies & Injury

Foreign bodies are objects that enter the dog’s body through the mouth or rectum and can cause irritation or infection. Of course, an injury to the area may also cause inflammation and other issues.

Common foreign bodies include bones, sticks, and other small objects that dogs may ingest while playing or chewing. These objects can get stuck in the digestive tract near the rectum and cause damage, inflammation, or infection in the anus.

If you suspect that your dog has ingested a foreign body, it is important to seek veterinary care immediately. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to remove the object and prevent further damage to the digestive tract.

To prevent foreign bodies from causing irritation or infection in the anus, it is important to supervise your dog while they are playing or chewing and to avoid giving them small objects that they could potentially swallow.

7. Parasites (worms)

Although it’s quite rare, some dogs with red or inflamed anuses may be suffering from parasites, particularly worms. Worms are common in dogs, and they can cause a variety of health problems, including inflammation and irritation in the anus. Occasionally, worms can cause an itchy anus, leading to excessive licking, biting, or scooting, and this can result in inflammation.

There are several types of worms that can affect dogs, including roundworms, tapeworms, hookworms, and whipworms. These parasites can be picked up from contaminated soil, water, or food, or from other infected animals.

Symptoms of a worm infestation can include diarrhea, vomiting, weight loss, and a dull coat. In some cases, dogs may also experience itching or irritation around the anus, which can lead to redness and inflammation.

If you suspect that your dog may have worms, it is important to take them to the vet for a proper diagnosis and treatment. Your vet may recommend a deworming medication, as well as other treatments to help soothe and heal any irritation or inflammation in the anus.

8. Perianal Hernia

Perianal hernia is a condition where the muscles around the anus weaken, causing the rectum to protrude through the pelvic floor muscles. This can lead to the formation of a bulge near the anus, which can be painful and uncomfortable for your dog.

Perianal hernias are more common in male dogs, especially those that are older and not neutered. Breeds that are more prone to this condition include Boston Terriers, Boxers, and Welsh Corgis.

Symptoms of perianal hernia include:

  • Difficulty defecating or urinating; 
  • Constipation; 
  • Straining during bowel movements; and
  • Signs of pain, such as whimpering or crying when trying to pass stool.

Treatment for perianal hernia typically involves surgery to repair the weakened muscles around the anus. Your veterinarian may also recommend a special diet or medication to help manage your dog’s symptoms.

If you suspect that your dog may be suffering from a perianal hernia, it is important to seek veterinary care as soon as possible to prevent further complications.

9. Rectal Tumors

Rectal tumors are one of the more serious cases. While perianal tumors and growths can be malignant , sometimes they’re not as serious and can simply be removed with surgery. The problem with rectal tumors is that by the time a pet parent notices the signs, the tumor is probably pretty far advanced already. And if it’s malignant, the prognosis isn’t always great.

The signs of rectal tumors include a range of symptoms, such as:

  • Pain;
  • Discomfort;
  • Difficulty defecating, or much straining; 
  • Diarrhea; and
  • Blood in the Poop.

In the case of Penny, my semi feral rescue, I never initially saw her defecating as she took herself to the furthest ends of my fields to go to the bathroom. I thought nothing of her long bathroom trips, since she was fearful, emaciated and full of parasites, my focus was on the more obvious issues at hand. 

However, when we went to the vet, the problem was painfully obvious. Penny had a terrible rectal prolapse that I hadn’t seen because she kept her tail tucked between her legs the first weeks with me. When the vet examined her, she found the tell-tail lumps of two rectal tumors. 

These are often very aggressive tumors and they probably caused her a lot of constipation while she was homeless and feral. Left untreated, it eventually caused a prolapse, which we will discuss next. In Penny’s case, as a senior feral dog, my veterinarian and I decided to focus on palliative care and maintaining Penny’s quality of life.

However, if your dog gets diagnosed with rectal tumors, it’s best to discuss the best treatment for you and your canine. Treatment for rectal tumors will depend on the type and severity of the tumor. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to remove the tumor, while in others, radiation therapy may be recommended. Your veterinarian will be able to provide you with more information about the best course of treatment for your dog.

10. Rectal Polyps

Rectal polyps also are growths that occur in the lining of the rectum. They are usually benign, so if your dog simply has polyps rather than tumors, it’s generally much better news. Rectal polyps can cause inflammation and redness in the anus. 

The symptoms of rectal polyps include rectal bleeding, constipation, and diarrhea.

We don’t know exactly what causes polyps, but they are believed to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Some of the risk factors for rectal polyps include age, family history, and a history of inflammatory bowel disease.

Treatment for rectal polyps depends on the size and type of the polyp. Small polyps may be removed during a colonoscopy, while larger polyps may require surgery. In some cases, rectal polyps may be monitored and no treatment is necessary.

11. Rectal Tears

When a dog’s anus is red or inflamed, it may be due to rectal tears. These tears can occur from a variety of causes, such as constipation, diarrhea, or trauma.

Rectal tears can be painful for dogs and may cause them to strain when defecating. In severe cases, a dog may even experience bleeding from the rectum.

If you suspect your dog has a rectal tear, it is important to take them to a veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment. Treatment may include medication to reduce pain and inflammation, as well as dietary changes to prevent constipation or diarrhea.

In some cases, surgery may be necessary to repair the tear. It is important to follow your veterinarian’s instructions and monitor your dog closely during the healing process to ensure a full recovery.

12. Birth Rectal Defects

Some dogs may be born with rectal defects that can cause redness or inflammation around the anus. Congenital anomalies of the rectum and anus are rare in dogs, but the most frequently reported anomaly is atresia ani. 

There are four types of atresia ani that have been reported, including:

  • Congenital anal stenosis (Type I);
  • Imperforate anus alone (Type II); or
  • Combined with more cranial termination of the rectum as a blind pouch (Type III), and rectovaginal fistula (Type IV).

Atresia ani can cause constipation, straining, and pain while trying to poop. The condition is usually diagnosed shortly after birth and requires surgical correction. The prognosis for dogs with atresia ani depends on the severity of the condition and the success of the surgical intervention..

Common Symptoms to Look Out For

If your dog’s anus appears is showing signs of irritation and inflammation, it could be a sign of an underlying health issue. However, there are other symptoms to look out for that can help you determine the cause of the problem.

First, pay attention to your dog’s behavior. If they are frequently licking or biting at their anus, this could indicate discomfort or pain. Additionally, if they are scooting their rear end across the floor, this could be a sign of irritation or infection.

Other symptoms to watch for include diarrhea, constipation, and blood in the stool. If you notice any of these signs, it’s important to take your dog to the vet for a thorough examination.

In some cases, the cause of the red or inflamed anus may be something as simple as an allergic reaction to their food or environment. However, it could also be a more serious issue such as an infection or tumor.

By keeping an eye out for these common symptoms, you can help ensure that your furry friend stays healthy and happy.

Immediate Home Remedies

If you notice that your dog’s anus is red or inflamed, there are a few things you can do at home to help alleviate the discomfort. Firstly, you need to address any issues around constipation, so see our article on what to give constipated dogs.

First, make sure your dog’s anal area is clean. You can gently clean the area with a warm, damp cloth or unscented baby wipes. Avoid using any harsh soaps or chemicals.

Next, try applying a soothing ointment or cream to the affected area. Look for products that contain natural ingredients like aloe vera or chamomile. You can also try applying a small amount of coconut oil or olive oil to help moisturize the skin.

If your dog is still experiencing discomfort, you can try giving them a warm bath. Make sure to use a gentle, unscented shampoo and avoid getting any soap in their eyes or ears.

Remember, if your dog’s symptoms persist or worsen, it’s important to consult with your veterinarian.

When to Visit the Vet

If your dog’s anus is red or inflamed, it’s important to monitor the situation closely. While some cases may resolve on their own, others may require veterinary intervention. Here are some signs that it may be time to visit the vet:

  • The redness or inflammation is severe or worsening;
  • Your dog is experiencing discomfort or pain;
  • Your dog is excessively licking or biting at the affected area;
  • There is discharge or bleeding from the anus; and
  • Your dog has diarrhea or other digestive issues.

If you notice any of these signs, it’s best to schedule an appointment with your vet. They can help diagnose the underlying cause of the redness or inflammation and recommend appropriate treatment options. In some cases, medication or other interventions may be necessary to help your dog feel better and prevent further complications.

Remember, as a pet owner, it’s your responsibility to monitor your dog’s health and wellbeing. By staying vigilant and seeking veterinary care when necessary, you can help ensure that your furry friend stays happy and healthy for years to come.

Diagnostic Tests for Inflamed Anus

To diagnose an inflamed anus in dogs, veterinarians may perform several diagnostic tests. These tests help to determine the underlying cause of the inflammation and to develop an effective treatment plan. Some of the common diagnostic tests include:

  • Fecal examination: This test helps to rule out any parasitic infections that may be causing the inflammation. The veterinarian will examine a stool sample under a microscope to look for the presence of parasites.
  • Blood work: A complete blood count (CBC) and a biochemistry panel can provide valuable information about the dog’s overall health and any underlying conditions that may be contributing to the inflammation.
  • Anal swab: This test involves taking a swab of the anal area to check for bacterial or fungal infections.
  • Rectal examination: A rectal examination can help to identify any abnormalities in the rectal area that may be causing the inflammation.
  • Biopsy: In some cases, a biopsy may be necessary to determine the cause of the inflammation. A small tissue sample is taken from the affected area and examined under a microscope.

It is important to note that the diagnostic tests performed may vary depending on the individual case. Your veterinarian will determine which tests are necessary based on your dog’s symptoms and medical history.

Treatment Options

If you notice that your dog’s anus is red or inflamed, there are several treatment options that you can try at home before consulting a veterinarian.

Firstly, you can clean the affected area with a mild soap and warm water. This will help to remove any dirt or bacteria that may be contributing to the inflammation.

You can also apply a soothing ointment or cream to the area, such as aloe vera or calendula. These natural remedies can help to reduce inflammation and promote healing.

In addition, it’s important to ensure that your dog is getting enough fiber in their diet. This can help to regulate their bowel movements and reduce the likelihood of irritation or inflammation in the anal area.

If these home remedies do not improve your dog’s condition within a few days, it’s important to consult a veterinarian. They may prescribe medication or recommend further treatment to address the underlying cause of the inflammation.

Preventive Measures

To prevent your dog’s anus from becoming red or inflamed, there are several measures that you can take.

  1. Make sure to keep your dog’s anal area clean

    You can do this by gently wiping the area with a damp cloth or baby wipe after your dog has defecated. This will help to remove any fecal matter that may cause irritation.

  2. Ensure that your dog is on a healthy and balanced diet

    Feeding your dog high-quality food that is free from fillers and additives can help to prevent digestive issues that may lead to anal irritation.

  3. Avoid using harsh or scented cleaning products

    Avoid using harsh or scented cleaning products on your dog’s bedding or in areas where your dog spends a lot of time. These products can cause irritation and inflammation to your dog’s skin and rectal area.

  4. Make sure that your dog is getting enough exercise

    Regular exercise can help to improve your dog’s overall health and prevent constipation, which can lead to anal irritation.

By following these simple preventive measures, you can help to keep your dog’s anal region healthy and free from irritation.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How can I tell if my dog’s anal glands are infected?

If your dog’s anal glands are infected, you may notice some signs such as licking or biting the area around the anus, scooting across the floor, and a foul odor coming from the area. Additionally, your dog may show signs of pain or discomfort when defecating.

What are the signs of anal sac disease in dogs?

Anal sac disease in dogs can cause a variety of symptoms, including licking or biting the area around the anal region, scooting across the floor, and a foul odor coming from the area. Your dog may also show signs of pain or discomfort when defecating, and you may notice blood or pus coming from the area.

How can I treat my dog’s swollen anus after diarrhea?

If your dog’s anal area is swollen after diarrhea, you can try applying a warm compress to the area to help reduce inflammation. Additionally, you may want to consider giving your dog a bland diet to help soothe their digestive system and prevent further irritation.

What are the symptoms of a ruptured anal gland in a dog?

If your dog’s anal gland ruptures, you may notice signs such as swelling, redness, and discharge from the area. Your dog may also show signs of pain or discomfort when defecating, and you may notice blood or pus coming from the area.

How can I treat my dog’s anal gland abscess at home?

If your dog has an anal gland abscess, it’s important to seek veterinary care as soon as possible. In some cases, your vet may recommend draining the abscess and prescribing antibiotics to help prevent further infection.

Why does my dog’s anus look irritated and what can I do to help?

There are many reasons why your dog’s anal area may look irritated, including allergies, parasites, infections, and anal gland problems. To help alleviate your dog’s discomfort, you may want to consider giving them a warm bath, applying a soothing ointment to the area, or taking them to the vet for further evaluation.

Conclusion

In conclusion, if you notice that your dog’s anus is red or inflamed, it is important to take action. This could be a sign of a more serious underlying condition, such as an infection or allergy. It is important to keep your dog’s butt clean and dry, and to monitor any changes in color or texture.

If the redness or inflammation persists, it is important to consult with your veterinarian. They can help diagnose the underlying cause and provide appropriate treatment. With proper care and attention, you can help keep your furry friend healthy and happy.

Meet Your Experts

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Tamsin De La Harpe

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Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.

Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions. Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.