Anal glands, also known as anal sacs, are small glands located on either side of a dog’s anus. These glands produce a strong-smelling fluid that is used by dogs to mark their territory and communicate with other dogs. However, sometimes these glands can become impacted, infected, or inflamed, causing discomfort and pain for the dog. In such cases, the vet may recommend gland removal surgery. While gland removal can alleviate a dog’s discomfort, it is important to weigh the pros and cons of the procedure before making a decision.
The first sign of gland impaction is that the area around the gland will swell up just slightly and turn a slight pink. The gland will be hard to the touch. The dog may start to walk abnormally, scoot her butt on the floor or lick the gland because this infection is very painful.
Next, the area of the infected gland will turn bright pink and the swelling will increase. The dog will have obvious difficulty walking normally, wil continue to scoot its butt on the floor and lick the gland.
WIthin a short period of time (usually 24-48 hours after the first onset of symptoms), the gland can become extremely swollen and purple! It resembles an enormous purple pimple!!! At this stage, a huge ball of puss has filled the gland and the puss is getting ready to break out of the gland. The dog will be in great pain and will have a difficult time navigating stairs. The dog may also be less likely to eat and drink.
At all times during the gland infection process, the dog is in a great amount of pain! It is very important that you get your dog to the vet as soon as you notice the start of an anal infection.
Pros of Dog Gland Removal
- Relief from Discomfort: Dogs with impacted, infected, or inflamed anal glands can experience a great deal of discomfort and pain. They may have difficulty sitting, licking their bottom excessively, and scooting on the ground. Gland removal surgery can alleviate this discomfort and improve the dog’s quality of life.
- Prevention of Future Problems: Once a dog gland removal pros and cons have become infected or inflamed, they are more likely to develop similar problems in the future. By removing the glands, the risk of future problems is reduced.
- Improved Hygiene: Dogs with anal gland problems often have a foul-smelling discharge from their anus. This can be unpleasant for both the dog and the owner. Gland removal surgery eliminates this problem and improves the dog’s hygiene.
- Reduced Vet Visits: Dogs with chronic anal gland problems may require frequent trips to the vet for expression or treatment. Gland removal surgery can reduce the need for such visits and save the owner time and money.
Cons of Dog Gland Removal
- Risk of Complications: Like any surgery, gland removal carries some risk of complications, such as infection, bleeding, or an adverse reaction to anesthesia. These complications can be serious and may require additional treatment.
- Incontinence: Gland removal surgery can sometimes damage the nerves or muscles around the anus, leading to incontinence or loss of control over bowel movements. This can be distressing for both the dog and the owner.
- Surgical Cost: Gland removal surgery can be expensive, especially if complications arise. Owners should be prepared to pay for the procedure and any associated costs, such as medications or follow-up visits.
- Potential Behavioral Changes: Dogs use their anal glands to communicate with other dogs, and removal of the glands can potentially change a dog’s behavior. Some dogs may become more aggressive or submissive, or they may become less interested in socializing with other dog ownership.
Alternatives to Gland Removal
Before opting for gland removal surgery, there are several alternatives that can be tried.
- Dietary Changes: A high-fiber diet can help keep a dog’s stools firm, which may help express the anal glands naturally. Adding pumpkin or other sources of fiber to a dog’s diet can be beneficial.
- Expression: Regular expression of the anal glands can prevent them from becoming impacted or infected. This can be done by a vet or a trained groomer.
- Antibiotics: Antibiotics can be prescribed to treat infections in the anal glands. However, this does not address the underlying problem and may not prevent future infections.
- Herbal Remedies: Some herbal remedies, such as chamomile or calendula, can help reduce inflammation in the anal glands. However, these remedies should be used with caution and under the guidance of a veterinarian.
Gland removal surgery can be a viable option for dogs with chronic anal gland problems. However, it is important to weigh the pros and cons before making a decision. Owners should discuss the procedure with their veterinarian and consider alternative treatments before opting for surgery. Ultimately, the goal should be to improve the dog’s quality of life and alleviate.