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208 Breeds, 422 Health Conditions  |  Find a Vet

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Anorectal Obstructions




Condition Overview

The signs of anorectal disease are pain on defecation, straining to pass stool, rectal bleeding, scooting, and biting and licking the rear. Dogs with anorectal pain often attempt to defecate from a standing position.


The principal sign of anorectal obstruction is straining to defecate. The stool may be flat or ribbon-like. The dog may or may not pass blood.


A common cause of an anorectal obstruction is an enlarged prostate that bulges backward and compresses the rectum. This occurs in older male dogs. Foreign bodies that pass through the upper GI tract may obstruct the rectum, causing a blockage. Boston Terriers and Bulldogs are predisposed to this, and any dog born with a screw tail may have a rigid extension of the tail that pushes down upon the anal canal, pinching it against the pelvic floor. Other causes of blockage are fecal impactions, matted stool around the anus, rectal strictures, perianal gland tumors, perineal hernias, and rectal polyps and cancers.

Rectal strictures result from perianal infections, fistulas, ans surgical attempts to treat them.Perineal hernias are bulges that occur alongside the anus. They weaken the muscular support of the rectum and interfere with the mechanics of elimination. The bulge becomes larger as the dog strains. perineal hernias primarily occur in elderly, un-neutered males.


The diagnosis is made by digital rectal examination and, occasionally, by colonoscopy.


Treatment varies with the cause of the obstruction. Most foreign bodies can be removed by digital extraction under sedation or anesthesia. Neutering is the treatment of choice for an enlarged prostate. Perineal hernias are repaired with a surgical procedure plus neutering, or by neutering alone. Strictures are corrected with surgery. Constipation associated with the screw tail usually requires surgical correction of the tail.

For conditions in which surgical treatment is not feasible, the goal is to maintain normal defecation using laxatives and stool-softening diets - see constipation.


There is no prevention for this condition.


Please contact your veterinarian with questions regarding this condition.

Show Sources & Contributors +


Dog Owners Home Veterinary Handbook

Publisher: Wiley Publishing, 2007

Website: http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/

Authors: Debra M. Eldredge, Liisa D. Carlson, Delbert G. Carlson, James M. Giffen MD

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