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Anal Gland Removal--Yes or No?


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#1 Guest_JoeysMom_*

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Posted 08 April 2006 - 03:59 PM

We adopted Joey last April from the local shelter, and in June she began having anal gland problems. I modified her diet, making it higher in fiber, and that has not significantly helped. She bites at her anal area daily, though it doesn't seem to be causing her pain. We need to have her glands expressed at least monthly. Our vet spoke to us about having her anal glands removed, and I am unsure about it. I have looked it up, and will be talking with my vet further. Fecal incontinence is often a temporary side effect of this surgery, but it can also be permanent. Infection is more likely due to the location of the surgery. I should also note that our vet will be using a laser for this surgery, should we choose to do it. She is only 1 and 1/2 years old...I love her the way she is now. I want her to be okay. To be incontinent for the next 10+ years would be awful, but for her to have continuous discomfort with the possibitly of anal gland rupture/infection without the surgery is also bad... what should I do? Does anyone have any experience with this? Any advice or comments are welcome. I just don't know what I should do...

#2 Liz P

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Posted 08 April 2006 - 07:29 PM

If it was my dog I would have her tested for allergies before taking the leap and doing surgery. Allergies cause the sacs to fill faster and predispose them to problems. If your dog does indeed require surgery I would find a vet who had a lot of experience doing them. You may need to go to a veterinary school or specialist and pay more, but it's worth it when it means the difference between a healthy dog and one that is incontinent for most of its life.

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#3 AK dog doc

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Posted 08 April 2006 - 11:55 PM

FWIW, I've yet to see one get an infection or have even temporary incontinence. Not to say that you should jump right to surgery without investigating medical options first or that your dog may not have complications, just to say we haven't been seeing these complications in our patients. (touch wood) We do put them on antibiotics for a short period afterwards (due to the surgical site, infection certainly COULD happen). IMO, the risk of incontinence goes up when you've got a dog with a lot of scarring of the AG's, which makes the surgery more difficult and tends to create adhesions that may mean you take out some of the sphincter muscle during surgery. We don't use a laser, so I can't tell you what the risks are with laser surgery.

By all means investigate your options thoroughly and pick an experienced surgeon IF you should decide to go to surgery. If you're unclear on the need for surgery, seek a second medical opinion. Personally, if I had a dog who needed its AGs expressed from time to time that would be different than having one with AG infections or constant irritation of the area. Certainly other conditions might affect itchiness or irritation in the area, and a certain amount of grooming of the area is normal. It sounds like you're a bit beyond normal amounts of grooming, though.

As a BTW, you CAN learn to express the AGs yourself, if you want to, but it does often take some experience and if infection has been a past issue you need a vet to assess whether it is a current issue.
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#4 Shetlander

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Posted 09 April 2006 - 01:47 AM

About 14 years ago, my first Lhasa kept getting infections and his anal glands were very difficult to express. He had the operation (not laser though) and once he was past recuperation, it was great. Maybe it was him, but he was wildly uncomfortable after the operation and needed to be sedated. There was also a lot of oozing from the wounds for a few days. He never had any problems with incontenence. I wouldn't want to go through that again until I was sure it was truly the best option for the dog. That said, once he was healed, it was nice not to deal with chronic anal gland issues.

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