Although dog hemorrhoids are similar to human hemorrhoids, the incidence of hemorrhoids in dogs is much lower. In fact, dog hemorrhoids are so rare that rectal tumors and other diseases are commonly confused by dog owners as hemorrhoids.
Like human hemorrhoids, dog hemorrhoids too require proper medical attention, and treatment usually varies depending on the severity of the condition.
Contrary to popular belief, the symptoms of dog hemorrhoids are similar to other rectal and anal diseases and it usually requires a veterinarian to correctly diagnose the condition.
What are dog hemorrhoids?
Dog hemorrhoids usually occur in the rectum or anus, and are basically enlarged blood vessels that start bulging due to increased blood flow. Dog hemorrhoids are essentially blood vessels that have expanded due to increased pressure in the rectum.
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If the hemorrhoids are internal, they are present inside the rectum and located just below the lining of the anus. External hemorrhoids are present just outside the anus and are covered by a thin layer of skin. The distended blood vessels can rupture causing bleeding.
Dog hemroids usually rupture during bowel movement resulting in localized pain and bloody stool. Interestingly, dog hemroids are often confused with anal fissures as the symptoms are almost similar.
What causes dog hemroids?
The exact cause of dog hemorrhoids is not known but it is believed that poor muscle tone and diet play a role. Unlike humans, the dietary habits of dogs are less diverse, but certain food types have been suggested as a cause of dog hemorrhoids.
There has been extensive research on hemorrhoids in the past, but the exact mechanism of hemorrhoids is still unknown. It is believed that genetics also plays a vital role, and some dog species are more susceptible to hemorrhoids than others.
Certain studies have also linked obesity with dog hemorrhoids but the results are inconclusive and it is unclear what exactly causes dog hemorrhoids.
There is very little understanding of what causes dog hemorrhoids, the rarity of dog hemorrhoids has meant that even lesser research has been carried out to ascertain the cause of hemorrhoids in dogs.
What are the symptoms of dog hemorrhoids?
The first possible sign of dog hemorrhoids is a bloody stool and the dog might experience discomfort and itching long before there is blood in the stool.
If the dog has external hemorrhoids then the itching and discomfort will be prominent, characterized by the dog dragging his torso along the ground to stop the itching.
In the rare case of anal abscesses or infection of the anal gland (a complication resulting from hemorrhoids), the dog will be extremely sensitive when the owner tries touching the area near the tail.
Unfortunately, dog hemorrhoids can also be confused with fissures and tumors and it is important to consult a veterinarian for proper diagnosis.
There are no home kits or any other means of diagnosing dog hemorrhoids at home, and dog owners often confuse other ailments for dog hemorrhoids. It is important to remember that dog hemorrhoids are rare and there is a high probability that the dog might be suffering from an ailment other than hemorrhoids.
How are dog hemorrhoids treated?
Treatment is purely objective and depends on the severity of the hemorrhoids.
As mentioned earlier, once a vet has diagnosed the problem he will then proceed to ascertain the best means of treatment.
External dog hemorrhoids can be treated by creams and conservative management. Unlike humans, dogs are more resistant to creams and other forms of treatment and sometimes surgery is the only option available.
Internal dog hemorrhoids are treated by suppository (A small plug of medication designed for insertion into the rectum where it melts) or surgery, depending on the vet’s preference.
Contrary to popular belief, most vets prefer conservative management of dog hemorrhoids and surgery is usually the last option.
It is important to understand that dog hemorrhoids are not a life threatening condition, but if left untreated can lead to pain and promote other diseases.
Apart from treating the hemorrhoids, vets also prescribe an antibiotic course for 14 days to ensure there is no infection (as a result of the ruptured blood vessels).
Vets also put dogs with recurrent hemorrhoids on a high fibre diet to make the stool bulkier and make the glands express themselves during defecation.
It is important to remember that not all cases of dog hemorrhoids are completely treatable, and there is a possibility that the dog might relapse and develop hemorrhoids again.
What happens if the dog hemorrhoids are left untreated?
Over a period of time dog haemorrhoids can result in the development of abscesses on the anal glands. Rarely, these abscesses can damage the nerve endings and thus cause fecal incontinence (the dog will not be able to control his bowel movements or retain stool).
Untreated dog hemorrhoids are almost always extremely painful and usually lead to further complications like infections.
Impacted anal glands can adversely affect the health of a dog, they can also cause the dog to drag his torso across the floor or carpets leaving an extremely pungent discharge.
In any case, impacted glands are usually surgically removed to avoid any further complications.
What can I do to prevent dog hemorrhoids?
Although dog hemorrhoids are rare, proper diet goes a long way in preventing hemorrhoids.
As mentioned earlier, the exact cause of dog hemorrhoids is unknown, but it is believed a balanced diet with sufficient fibre can help keep the dog healthy and free from hemorrhoids.
In addition to a healthy diet, proper exercise and sufficient hydration are also important for preventing hemorrhoids.
Like humans, a sedentary life style is also believed to be the cause for dog hemorrhoids, and regular exercise is also important for preventing dog hemorrhoids.
There are also numerous herbal supplements available that are designed to keep dogs free from common diseases like hemorrhoids, however their effectiveness in preventing dog hemorrhoids is still unclear.
Proper awareness is perhaps the biggest tool a dog owner has when it comes to preventing hemorrhoids in their pet dogs.