What Is an Anal Gland Removal in Cats?

Anal gland removal is the surgical removal of the anal glands, located on either side of the anus. These glands secrete a pungent smelling odor when the pet defecates or is frightened or alarmed.

What Are the Indications for Performing an Anal Gland Removal in Cats?

Although anal gland problems are relatively uncommon in cats, surgical removal of the anal glands is indicated whenever the anal glands are severely infected, continuously obstructed or a tumor develops in the gland.

What Preoperative Examinations or Tests Are Needed Before an Anal Gland Removal?

Preoperative tests depend in part on the age and general health of the cat as well as the cause of the anal gland removal. If removal is to treat an infection or prevent future impactions, simple blood tests, such as a packed cell volume or blood count, may be done prior to anesthesia. If the anal gland removal is associated with a tumor, extensive tests such as radiographs, blood count, serum biochemical tests, a urinalysis, and possibly an EKG may be necessary.

What Type of Anesthesia is Needed For an Anal Gland Removal?

The procedure requires general anesthesia to induce complete unconsciousness and relaxation. In the usual case, the cat will receive a pre-anesthetic sedative-analgesic drug to help him relax, a brief intravenous anesthetic to allow placement of a breathing tube in the windpipe, and subsequently inhalation (gas) anesthesia in oxygen during the actual surgery.

How Is the Anal Gland Removal Operation Done on Cats?

Following anesthesia, the cat is placed on a surgical table, lying on his stomach or side. The hair is clipped around the anal area, the skin is scrubbed with surgical soap to disinfect the area and a sterile drape is placed over the surgical site. Your veterinarian uses a scalpel to incise the skin along the anal glands. The gland is dissected free of associated tissues, and blood vessels supplying the gland, as well as the ducts, are ligated (tied off). The gland is then removed. Sutures (stitches) that dissolve over time are used to close the deeper tissue layers, and the outer layer of skin is closed with sutures or surgical staples that need to be removed in about 10 to 14 days. This procedure is repeated on the other gland.

How Long Does the Anal Gland Removal Take to Perform?

The procedure takes about 45 minutes to an hour to perform in most cases, including the needed time for preparation and anesthesia. In the case of tumor removal, the procedure can take longer and may require the expertise of a board certified surgeon.

What Are the Risks and Complications of an Anal Gland Removal Operation?

The overall risk of this surgery is low. The major risks are those of general anesthesia, bleeding (hemorrhage), postoperative infection and wound breakdown (dehiscence) over the incision. Overall complication rate is low, but serious complications can result in death or the need for additional surgery.

What Is the Typical Postoperative Care After Anal Gland Removal?

Postoperative medication should be given to relieve pain, which is judged in most cases to be mild to moderate and can be effectively eliminated with safe and effective pain medicines. The home care requires reduced activity until the stitches are removed in 10 to 14 days. The suture line should be inspected daily by the pet owner for signs of redness, discharge, swelling, or pain.

How Long Is the Hospital Stay Following Anal Gland Removal?

The typical stay for anal gland removal is 1 to 2 days but will vary depending on overall health of the cat.