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Anal Gland Removal in Dogs

By: Dr. Cathy Reese

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The anal sacs are glands located near the anus that produce secretions that are normally expressed during defecation. The secretions are normally pungent and straw-colored with brown flecks.

Types of anal sac disease include:

  • Impaction
  • Inflammation
  • Infection or abscess formation
  • Tumors

    Anal sac impaction can lead to inflammation or infection of the anal sacs. Dogs are more commonly affected with anal sac disease than cats. Small breed dogs are more commonly affected with anal sac impaction than large breed dogs. Older female dogs are more commonly affected with anal sac tumors.

    What to Watch For

  • Scooting or dragging the anus on the ground or carpet
  • Frequent licking of the anus or tail base
  • Reluctance to sit or sitting asymmetrically to avoid pressure on the painful anal sac
  • Straining to defecate, difficulty defecating, production of ribbon-like stools

    Chronic/recurrent anal sac infections and anal gland tumors are indications for anal gland removal.

    Diagnosis

  • A complete history
  • A complete physical exam
  • Rectal examination including an attempt to manually express the anal sacs
  • Blood tests, as anal sac tumors can cause an increase in blood calcium levels
  • Chest and abdominal X-rays to check for tumor spread to other organs
  • Abdominal ultrasound to check lymph nodes for tumor spread

    Treatment

  • Anal gland removal is done under general anesthesia
  • One or both anal glands are removed as needed
  • There is a small risk of fecal incontinence with any surgery around the anus, including anal gland removal. This risk is higher when both anal glands are removed than if only one is removed
  • Tumors of the anal sacs can spread to lymph nodes in the abdomen. Affected lymph nodes can be removed, although this can be difficult

    Home Care

    Be aware of your pet's normal defecation habits and stool appearance so that you can notice any changes. Contact your veterinarian if you notice any of the above signs of anal sac disease. Follow your veterinarian's instructions for home care after anal gland removal. Give medications as instructed and use an Elizabethan collar on your pet to keep licking at the surgery site.

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