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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Veterinarian
Category: Dog
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Experience:  I have over 20 years experience in small animal and emergency veterinary medicine
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my dog has a swollen area above his anus. It is not ...

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my dog has a swollen area above his anus. It is not on the side like anal glands, but the top, all the way to the base of his tail. He is currently on antibiotics for a staph infection on his skin (he is a bulldog and very prone to allergy suffering). Staph is clearing up very well, but he seems reluctant to relieve himself, and the base of his tail/anal area is red and almost fluid filled. Could this be due to staph? anal glads? hemroids? or something else... any ideas before an expensive vet visit?


Bulldogs are really great dogs but they certainly have more than their fair share of skin problems! I agree with you that the area you are describing does not sound like anal glands and its presence would certainly explain your dog's reluctance to defecate.

What this sounds most like is an abscess - a localized infection that creates a pus-filled pocket. This seems more likely than just a cyst since it is inflamed and seems to cause your dog some discomfort. If this is an abscess, it will need to be drained - it is also possible that it might rupture on its own, releasing the pus. If this happens, clean the area very thoroughly by flushing repeatedly with water. It is good that he is already on an antibiotic, but it is very hard for an antibiotic to penetrate into an abscess, and that is why draining itis generally necessary. Abscesses generally form as a result of a puncture wound of some sort - cat bite wounds are notorious for this, but any type of puncture wound can cause it. It is not likely that it would have developed as a result of the Staph skin infection though as these are generally involvling the superficial layers of the skin, and an abscess involved introducing bacteria into the deeper layers.

Another possibility here would be a perineal hernia, but this would occur more to one side of the other rather than right at the top of the anus. When looking directly from behind, a perineal hernia would result in a swelling from approximately the 9 - 12 o'clock position or the 12 - 3 o'clock position depending on which side was being affected. Anal glands would cause a smaller swelling at either the 4 - 5 o'clock or 7 - 8 o 'clock positions. From your description I am picturing a swelling more from may be 11 to 1 o'clock position. Let me know if what you are seeing seems different than this. A perineal hernia occurs due to the rupture of the muscles on either side of the rectum and can be quite serious if organs from inside the abdomen become entrapped in this hernia. This would be an emergency situation, so if you think this may be a perineal hernia, you should have your dog seen by a vet immediately. I do not think your description of where this swelling is located is necessarily suggests a perineal hernia, but I cannot see it to be certain of this.

Keeping the area clean is always a good idea, regardless of what is causing it. Make sure you go outside with him and if he is having trouble urinating, that would be more suggestive of tne perineal hernia as it is often the bladder that becomes trapped in this. If this is noted, have him seen immediately. It is likely that he will need to be seen by a vet anyway to have this drained - the type of fluid present will give your vet an idea of what is causing it.

I hope this information is helpful. If so, please click Accept. If you have additional questions, please let me know.

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Customer: replied 9 years ago.
I was thinking it was probably an abscess too, he seems to have no trouble urinating, just when he deficates he kinda runs away from the spot and looks concerned back at where he went. He is not very able to clean himself very well, since being a bulldog reaching back there is hard. I was able to gently palpate the area, and it just fills like fluid under the skin. It is only between 11 and 1 o'clock.
   He is currently on 750 mg cephalexin, for the skin staph infection and has only been on it for 4 days. He is about 70 lbs (it was pretty bad this time, normally the vet puts him on 500mgs, but thought to try a stronger dose this time.)
   Would I be being a bad dog-mom if I give him another week of meds, and cross my fingers that the antibiotics help. Of course if he is not able to defecate i will bring him in immediately.
   He loves to run and is always in the brush and woods, where he could easily have gotten a scratch, he also scratches his back by rubbing on bushes... and though he gets along great with my 2 cats, occasionaly i do find one of them bitting him, not meanly, but just because he can... so that wouldn't be suprising either (though i have never seen the cat bit him hard enough to break skin.... he just bites him when he is sleeping, or walking past (i think they are love bites, but the cat is pretty weird).
Thanks for the help.
Customer: replied 9 years ago.
Dr. B, I see that you are in MN, which I am too. I don't know if you share where you practice, but i would love to know.


It is good that he is urinatng and it does sound like abscess is our most likely diagnosis here.

I know this is not what you want to hear, but if this is an abscess, the longer it is present, the greater the chance for some serious complications. It would be possible that the infection could get in the blood stream. Also, the infection can spread locally throughout the surrounding tissues - this is not a good area to have this happen as there are some important muscles and nerves in this area. Once it is lanced, the infection has a way of getting out side of the body rather than going further inside the body and that is why it is usually necessary to do this. In severe abscesses, after it is drained it is sometimes necessary to remove any dead or damaged tissues in the area so it can heal. This is not an area where you want to have to dissect out a bunch of dead tissue as this could lead to some problems with incontinence.

So, unfortunately, no I do not think waiting a week in hopes that the antibiotics will take care of it is such a good idea. Besides being uncomfortable for your dog, it could make a problem that is not so bad to deal with into a problem that is much more difficult to deal with.

I do relief work (this means that I fill in at different clinics when a vet goes on vacation or they just need extra help) on the west side of the Twin Cities and the surrounding suburbs, so I do not have a regular clinic. I like the variety this provides me rather than working at one regular clinic.

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