The anal glands (also referred to as the anal sacs) are two sebaceous glands located on either side of the anus that secrete a pungent fluid. They are found in many mammals, including cats, dogs, and bears. But what about humans? Do humans have anal glands?
The way the anal glands work is fluid produced by the anal gland travels through small ducts that open into the anus. Typically, this fluid is released during defecation and help pets communicate. The anal glands produce a distinct scent that functions as a method for identifying individuals within a species. For more information on anal glands, read Structure & Function of the Anal Glands.
Anal glands typically do not a cause of concern for dogs except for when the glands become clogged or infected. Common problems include pain and discomfort arising from anal gland impaction and anal gland abscesses. Read our article to learn more about anal gland diseases and their symptoms.
Do Humans Have Anal Glands?
So let’s go back to the question: do we humans have similar anal glands in our bodies?
The answer is yes!
It was difficult to find an accurate scientific answer to this question, but after hours of research, I found one. A paper published in 1961 by John Eglitis from the Department of Anatomy at the Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio entitled The Glands of the Anal Canal in a Man answered our question.
The anus is the distal part of the intestinal tract, the final orifice though which our bowel movements pass out of our body. The anus is approximately 2 inches long and contains layers of muscles, blood vessels, sensitive nerve endings, and anal glands. The muscles and nerves help us know when we need to have a bowel movement and help control it.
The anal glands in humans are classified as an “eccrine-secreting sweat glands” and secrete fluid via the anal ducts. Just like in dogs and cats, the obstruction of these ducts can cause plugging and may lead to abscess and fistula formation.
In humans, the anal glands are located in the walls of the anal canals at varying depths. According to Eglitis, “All glands of the anal canal vary considerably among individuals in number, form and size. Although vestigial in man, these glands are yet clinically significant.”
What is the Purpose of Anal Glands in Humans?
Anal glands in humans are thought to have no use or function except as a potential location of disease. However, it appears that the anal glands may be activated in times of anxiety or stress.
- Eglitis, J.A.; Eglitis, I. The Glands of the Anal Canal in a Man. The Ohio State University Knowledge Bank, kb.osu.edu. Ohio Journal of Science: Volume 61, Issue 2 (March, 1961).
- Petplace.com – Structure and Function of the Anal Glands.
- PetPlace.com – Anal Sac Diseases in Dogs.
- PetPlace.com – Anal Sac Diseases in Cats.