Hemorrhoids in humans occur when the vascular structure inside the anus becomes swollen and protrudes from the anus. Dogs have a different gastro-intestinal structure to humans, so they can’t get hemorrhoids. Although they may suffer from a number of anal disorders that superficially resemble symptoms in humans, namely a red and swollen anal opening with possible protrusion.
Impacted Anal Sacs
Many mammals, including dogs, skunks and cats have anal sacs. These are narrow passages, or ducts, that run between the internal and external anal sphincter muscles. A foul-smelling oily substance is produced in the anal sac. The function of the anal sac is open to debate, PetMD reports. Some believe the sacs produce the oily substance to lubricate hard stools; others believe the oily substance is for scent communication. Regardless of function, these ducts may become impacted with hard stool. Once impacted, they become infected and the hard stool may even break the skin. Once sufficiently inflamed, impacted anal sacs can resemble human hemorrhoids. Other symptoms include a foul smell emanating from the dog’s rear, scooting -- where the dog drags his backside along the floor -- and difficulty passing stool. Impacted anal sacs may be treated with surgery or by the owner or vet regularly expressing the sac to empty it.
Polyps can occur in a variety of places in the body. They are the result of an abnormal growth of the tissue that protects the mucous membrane. The polyp may protrude from the anal opening, giving the appearance the dog has a hemorrhoid. Accompanying symptoms include difficulty passing stool, blood in the feces and diarrhea. Although they are typically benign, the larger the polyp, the higher the chances that it is malignant. Your vet will typically treat the problem by removing the polyp and sending the tissue for examination to determine whether further treatment is necessary.
Rectal prolapse can be highly distressing to observe, as a large portion of the dog’s rectum may protrude through the rectal opening. The severity of the prolapse may vary from partial to complete. In less severe cases, the appearance of a rectal tissue layer protruding through the rectal opening may resemble the appearance of human hemorrhoids. Prolapse has numerous causes, but the most common is the result of intense straining to defecate, typically in puppies. Prolapse may cause the anal opening to tear.
A perianal fistula may in some cases resemble human hemorrhoids. This condition occurs when trauma from infection or aggravated follicles cause small wounds to develop around the anus. The condition is most common in German shepherds and setters, particularly those older than 7. Dogs with excessive skin folds around the anus are also prone to developing this condition. A veterinarian will typically treat the condition with antibiotics after cleaning the affected area.
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