Anal Gland Surgery for Your Dog?

Experience is key to successful surgery. Ask for a referral if your vet doesn't have a track record.

By | Posted: Mon Jan 31 00:00:00 PST 2005

Q. Every two to three months, my 2-year-old male Shih Tzu has to go to the vet to get his anal glands expressed. I'm assuming he'll have to get this done for the rest of his life. I have heard of a procedure to remove the anal glands, thus eliminating the need for expression. I would like to know your opinion on this procedure and if it is beneficial or detrimental to the dog.

Dr. Jon GellerA. Anal glands are located just below, and on either side of a dog's rectum. They secrete a foul-smelling liquid that adds a unique identifier to your dog's feces that allow other dogs to identify him.

They are not necessary for good health and can become a source of annoyance and questionable hygiene, especially  if a dog "scoots" across your carpet, rubbing his or her rear end on your flooring.

Some dogs have trouble emptying these glands, and must have them expressed on a regular basis.

An alternative to having the glands expressed on a regular basis is to have them removed surgically. An anal sacculectomy is a fairly delicate surgery because the anatomic structures are very small. There is a risk of permanent incontinence if the muscles that control anal sphincter control are accidentally damaged.

I would recommend the surgery, but make sure your veterinarian has a lot of experience with the procedure, and ask about the frequency of complications. It is reasonable to ask how many times they have performed the operation and to ask for a referral to someone who does the procedure more often if your veterinarian has not done it very often.

Best,
Jon Geller, DVM

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Barbara   California, California

7/20/2013 10:03:29 PM

My 2 miniature schnauzers both male and female started having chronic anal gland problems. I had dr. Randy Hanson at Redlands vet in redlands ca. Remove their anal glands. It was a 2 to 3 week recovery and neither dog ever had a problem again. Most important thing you can do is find a good vet who has performed these surgeries successfully and your home free. The vet should send you home with pain pills and sleeping pills for your dog , much easier recovery. I highly recommend the surgery problem solved. Please make sure you get a skilled surgeon I recommend Dr. Randy Hanson Redlands vet Redlands, Ca.

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Kathy   Madison, WI

9/13/2010 6:53:44 PM

After 4 anal gland infections & ruptures (ouch) we decided to have anal gland removal surgery for our 6 yr old pug last month. Our vet wasn't experienced in it but had a newer vet to the practice who had performed several of them. Best decision for our dog: no more infections or pain. Had a bit of fecal incontinance right after surgery (used a "doggy diaper" until stitches came out), and then only occasional (small) accidents. Best recommendation: keep your post-surgical doggy's stool FIRM. Any soft stool can lead to accidents (leakage). Another site recommended adding bran or Metamucil to her diet (made her barf) or adding some plain canned pumpkin--NOT the pumpkin pie filling :-) . She has done GREAT on this! We give her 1 tablespoon of pumpkin in the morning and no accidents for the past 2 weeks!

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Anne   Kingston, MA

3/30/2010 6:11:14 AM

My dog had a purse string suture done this fall and they actually sewed his anus shut. He ended up having to have the procedure undone to relieve himself. At this point his anus is bloody and leaky and I don't know what to do. I don't trust my vet to do another procedure. He has a lot of life left in him; but it is not sanitary to have him around the house. I need help!!

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Jan   Pinehurst, NC

2/6/2010 6:48:03 PM

For Barbara in Durham, I live in Pinehurst and my dog may need this surgery. Would you give me the vets name? Thanks!

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