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Upset Boston Terrier standing in yard

Unneutered male dogs at risk

Q: Floyd, our 8-year-old, unneutered Boston terrier, suddenly developed a large swelling on one side of his anus, and he strains to move his bowels. Is this an impacted anal sac?

A: It may be, or it might be a mass in or near his anal sac—but it’s more likely a perineal hernia. Regardless, Floyd should see his veterinarian immediately.

A perineal hernia is protrusion of abdominal organs through a tear in the pelvic muscles. These hernias may develop on one or both sides of the anus.

The condition occurs most often in unneutered male dogs, particularly those that are middle-aged and older. Breeds most commonly affected are the Boston terrier, boxer, collie, old English sheepdog and Pekingese.

If Floyd has a perineal hernia, he will need surgery to repair it. He should be neutered at the same time to reduce the risk of recurrence. Fortunately, the prognosis following surgery is excellent.

If the swelling is just an impacted anal sac, your veterinarian can relieve the impaction before the anal sac ruptures. Make an appointment now, so Floyd will feel better soon.

Lee Pickett, V.M.D. practices companion animal medicine in Pennsylvania. Contact her at

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