Dog hemorrhoids are something dog owners may often be concerned about, but it's important to firstly better understand what hemorrhoids truly are and whether dogs are prone to hemorrhoids. Truth is, there are several conditions in dogs that may mimic the appearance of hemorrhoids, but in reality are something totally different. Do not attempt to treat your dog using products designed for treating hemorrhoids in humans until seeing your veterinarian. If you suspect your dog has hemorrhoids, it is best to play it safe and see your veterinarian for proper evaluation and treatment.
The Truth About "Dog Hemorrhoids"
Hemorrhoids, also known as "piles" are structures that are naturally found in the human body. Not many people are aware of the fact that they play an important role in allowing fecal continence, successfully preventing any accidental leakage of stool.
All humans have hemorrhoids; but in certain circumstances they may get swollen and inflamed, sometimes protruding and leading to what most humans associate with the classical term "hemorrhoids."
Because hemorrhoids are highly vascular structures, they are prone to bleeding especially after bowel movements. Hemorrhoids are often seen after episodes of constipation, diarrhea and extensive sitting on the toilet. Us humans are particularly predisposed because we tend to put extra stress on our bums by standing up and especially sitting. When we stand or sit, all of our organs exert force on our bottoms predisposing us to problems.
Hemorrhoids are therefore very popular among humans with the majority of people affected at what time or another, but what about dogs? Do dogs get hemorrhoids like humans do?
"Dogs do not usually get hemorrhoids. I have had clients think their dogs have hemorrhoids, but it has always turned out to be something else," explains veterinarian Dr. Rebecca.
Most likely the reason why humans get hemorrhoids a whole lot compared to dogs is likely a matter of anatomy. As vertical beings, our intestinal tract is built in such a way that it puts pressure on our bottom; whereas dogs and other animals have intestinal tracts that lay more horizontally. Dogs as well do not sit on toilets like people do. So if dogs do not usually get hemorrhoids, what are some differentials that may resemble them?
Sometimes dog owners assume dogs have hemorrhoids because they see blood in their dog's stool but no growths around the dog's bum. Blood in a dog's stool may arise for various reasons, the most common being inflammation of the colon, presence of parasites, dietary indiscretions and local irritation.
Another possible reason dog owners may assume their dogs have hemorrhoids is painful defecation. Sometimes dogs cry during a bowel movement due to various reasons such as presence of a fistula on the dog's bum.
Other times, dog owners assume their dogs have hemorrhoids because they notice some suspicious lump or bump on the dog's bum. These lumps may appear as pink, red or even dark purple fleshy growths. Following are some potential conditions that may look like "dog hemorrhoids."
A Matter of Glands
Dogs may not get hemorrhoids as much as it happens in humans, but they are equipped with special glands found right at the 4 o'clock and 8 o'clock area of their bum area. These glands are meant to empty and secrete fluid when dogs pass solid stools, but if they end up having soft stools or diarrhea, these glands may clog up and cause problems.
When these glands are clogged, they become uncomfortable to the dog and affected dogs may be prone to licking and biting under their tail and even scooting. Scooting is a behavior where the dog "scoots" with his rear legs against the floor in an attempt to squeeze the glands and empty them.
Excessive chewing and scooting may lead to further irritation and inflammation which may lead to localized swelling and the appearance of what may look to the untrained eye as a "hemorrhoid." In the drawing on the right, you can see a dog with an impacted gland.
Impacted or abscessed anal glands in dogs require veterinary treatment. The vet will likely prescribe antibiotics if there is an infection. Surgery may be needed in severe cases.
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A Case of Prolapsed Tissue
Sometimes, when dogs strain excessively with diarrhea, they may develop what is known as a prolapse. In a prolapse, the tissue from the dog's bum turns inside out, giving the appearance of a "hemorrhoid." Puppies are often prone to these.
This is considered a medical emergency considering that left untreated, the tissue may end up drying up and dying. It's very important therefore to provide first aid as soon as possible upon driving the dog to the vet.
To keep the tissue moist and prevent serious damage from drying, it would therefore be important to apply plain Neosporin or petroleum jelly, suggests veterinarian Dr. Drew. This can prevent more invasive treatment.
If the tissue remains healthy, then the surgery is fairly minor. Th vet may need only place a couple of stitches around the bum to keep it in place. However, it would be important to treat the root cause as well by addressing the diarrhea and correcting it accordingly.
Presence of Masses/Tumors
Unfortunately, dog hemorrhoids may not be too common in dogs, but growths under the form of masses or tumors are more likely, especially in elderly dogs which are predisposed.
These growths may be benign or malignant. Only the vet may determine what the growth truly is by submitting a sample to a pathologist for examination.
Examples of possible masses include perianal gland tumors commonly found in intact, non-neutered dogs. These tumors may come in two versions: the benign form known as perianal gland adenomas, and the malignant form known as perianal gland adenocarcinomas.
A Case of True Hemorrhoids
After ruling out other disorders, it may be possible that the vet may determine that the dog is suffering truly from a case of "dog hemorrhoids." In such a case, as in human hemorrhoids, the underlying cause is a dilated blood vessel that acts in a similar fashion as a varicose vein.
For treating hemorrhoids on a dog, the vet may prescribe special topical creams meant to sooth the area and shrink it. At the same time, it may be possible that the vet may prescribe stool softeners or suggest dietary changes (like fiber-rich plain canned pumpkin) to reduce irritation and pain from the passage of dry, hard stools.
Many dog owners may wonder whether they can use preparation H or other human preparation for their dog's irritated or swollen bum. According to Critical Care Vet, products such as Preparation H, A&D ointment, and Desitin ointment can be used to sooth the area.
Preparation H though contains phenylephrine, which can cause diarrhea or vomiting if licked in a certain amount. Licking the area where it is applied therefore, should be avoided by closely monitoring.
To prevent issues, veterinarian Dr. Altman suggest applying it to the area for 10 minutes (which should be enough to allow absorption) and then wiping it off to prevent licking and ingesting it. To keep dogs distracted from licking the area, it may help feeding them a stuffed Kong or letting them wear an Elizabethan collar.
At the Vet's Office
If you suspect "dog hemorrhoids" the best thing to do would be to see the vet for proper diagnosis and treatment. At the vet's office, the vet will likely inquire about what the dog is eating, how his bowel movements are, and what symptoms have been noticed.
The vet will then proceed to perform a regular physical examination followed then by closely examining the area. The vet may wear gloves and them perform an internal digital exam, checking the dog's glands and looking for any lumps or bumps.
If lumps or bumps are detected, the vet may take a sample and submit it to a pathologist for evaluation under a microscope. Depending on the findings, surgical resection may be warranted.
Further testing in some instances may be needed to better come to a diagnosis. Treatment ultimately varies and is based on the condition found and underlying causes, which as seen, can be several.