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What is Anal Sacculectomy?

Anal sacculectomy in dogs is the removal of a canine’s anal glands. The anal glands are openings of the anal sacs located at the four and eight o’clock positions around the anus. The anal glands are scent organs used to mark an animal’s territory upon defecation. When a dog defecates, the muscles contract and allow the anal sacs to release a foul-smelling, dark-colored substance and empty out the anal sacs. However, dogs that suffer from anal gland impaction, infection, or abscess cannot secrete this substance and often require veterinary aid. If these problems cannot be managed medically, the veterinary surgeon will need to remove the anal sacs. 

Anal Sacculectomy Procedure in Dogs

Prior to conducting the anal sacculectomy, the surgical team will perform a blood chemistry test to ensure the canine is healthy enough to undergo surgery. To control pain both during and after surgery, the veterinary team will prescribe a pain management program that will keep the dog comfortable. The pain management program will likely include a combination of general anesthesia including an anti-inflammatory drug, oral analgesics, epidural analgesia and/or injectable analgesics. Once the dog is sedated, the area around the anal glands will be shaved and scrubbed with an antiseptic scrub solution. The surgeon will complete the surgical preparation process by positioning the animal to meet surgical needs and drape the dog’s body to prevent contamination of the surgical site. 

Beginning the anal sacculectomy, the surgeon will make an incision near the anus directly over the affected anal gland. The gland is then dissected from the external and internal anal sphincters. Extreme care is taken during the removal of the anal gland, as disruption of the anal sphincter could result in permanent fecal incontinence. The opening created by the veterinarian will be flushed out with an antiseptic solution before closing the surgical site completely or prior to placing a drain. A drain is usually placed if the dog has been suffering from a chronic anal gland infection, as infectious material should be drained entirely before complete closure. If only one anal gland is affected, the surgeon may choose to leave the healthy anal gland intact as unilateral anal sacculectomy is not associated with incontinence. 

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Efficacy of Anal Sacculectomy in Dogs

Anal sacculectomy is a highly effective procedure with the aim of permanent relief for dogs suffering from anal gland impaction, abscessation and infections. There is a risk of incontinence after the surgery, but this is not common. Incontinence may occur for example, in the case of a large dissection such as a cancerous tumor in the anal sac. If the dog is able to lick and touch the area after surgery, infection sometimes occurs and antibiotics are needed. Additionally, if there was an anal sac rupture before surgery took place, an abscess may occur due to the presence of anal sac tissue left behind after the operation. (The surgery is more challenging because of scar tissue.) If this happens, a second surgery is sometimes needed.

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Anal Sacculectomy Recovery in Dogs

Following an anal sacculectomy, pain management is the main goal for a canine’s aftercare, paired with infection prevention. Your dog’s surgeon will prescribe pain-relieving medication, as well as an antibiotic that should be given as directed. It is common for a dog to experience constipation after surgery, but if no stool has been passed three to four days after surgery, contact your veterinarian. Other dogs will experience diarrhea and there will be a need to gently clean the area. Some dogs may need to have a bowel movement more often than normal for the first few days. No matter which situation you face, take your dog outside more often the first several days after the sacculectomy. As the incision created during surgery is directly related to the rectum, it is highly important for pet owners to check the incision site for infection every day. Signs of incision site infection include discharge, pain, redness and swelling, which should be reported to the veterinarian. 

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Cost of Anal Sacculectomy in Dogs

Anal sacculectomy is a delicate procedure that can only be performed by a veterinary surgeon, which means the expected cost of this surgery is going to be about $1,000 to $2,000. The price will vary depending on the difficulty of the removal and how long your pet needs to remain in the hospital.

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Dog Anal Sacculectomy Considerations

Anal sacculectomy typically has few complications but as with any surgery, risks should be discussed with your veterinarian. For example, a dog could develop a mild form of fecal incontinence following an anal sacculectomy, which may be noted by the inability to control gas or the passing of fecal matter. Studies show small dogs are more prone to the occurrence. As well, if the sphincter nerve was touched or damaged during the procedure, the inability to control the movements of the bowel can occur. This is rarely permanent. Additionally, if the surgeon inadvertently pierces the rectum during dissection, a non-healing fistula may develop from the anus to the rectum.

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Anal Sacculectomy Prevention in Dogs

Chronic conditions of the anal glands such as impaction, infection, and abscess can occur for several reasons. Experts believe that the anal glands in dogs serve the purpose of marking territory and averting predators when threatened. Some canines do not express the glands fully, causing them to gradually fill up. Overweight dogs often have this problem; talk to your veterinarian about a weight reduction program for your pet. A dog that has developed a gastrointestinal disease that affects stool consistency may have a problem with the glands even though they previously did not. Discuss a diet change for your dog with your vet as a trial to see if a bulkier food can aid the anal sac elimination process.

Anal gland expression has helped canines from developing issues, performed by a licensed veterinarian or technician as needed. Typically done every few months, this procedure is a manual expression of the anal glands, which completed incorrectly could cause anal gland problems. Pet owners should never have their dog’s anal glands expressed by anyone other than a veterinarian. Dog groomers, pet store staff and dog trainers are generally not certified or medically trained to express anal glands in any pet. 

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Anal Sacculectomy Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Shih Tzu

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Seven Years

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Unknown severity

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2 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Post Anal Sac Surgery

My dog has had anal sac surgery from a vet at the early stages when the red bump was just discovered. He did surgery to remove it but now there is just a gaping hole where the infection was. The vet told us to apply Entederm and give him his medication and it would be ok. But what I want to know is that 1) will the wound close up? 2) when is it safe for him to take a shower? 3) is it ok to take him outdoors? Thank you.

July 24, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. It is hard to answer your questions, unfortunately, without knowing how long it has been since the surgery or being able to see what the wound looks like. Surgery of the anal glands is a common surgery where the sutures might break down because of the area that it is, and it is prone to infection. I think because I can't see it, frequently rechecks with your veterinarian would be a good idea, and I would not expect that there would be a charge for that as a follow-up to surgery. They would be able to monitor how well it's healing, and see if anything else needs to be done. I hope that he continues to recover well and everything goes fine for him!

July 24, 2020

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Dachshund

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Seven Years

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Unknown severity

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Has A Bump Come Up 2Nd Time Now, 1St Time Vet Went In And Found Stitch. His Procedure Was 3 Yrs Ago And Still Has Issues

What to do? See a specialist? I’m at my wits end for my dog.

July 20, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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Thank you for your question. It is difficult to say what you might be able to do, as I'm not sure what the problem is that your dog is having. If he is having incontinence issues, that is sometimes related to the surgery, if he is having recurrent infections, that can be related to the surgery as well. Since it's hard to say without knowing what problems he's having, it may be best to have a frrank conversation with your veterinarian, see what they think might be going on, and get a second opinion if you are not sure. If they feel that having a specialist look at him is the next best step, they can refer you to that person. I hope that all goes well for him.

July 20, 2020

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baxter and Gemma

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Boston Terrier

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Two Years

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Serious severity

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Feces Dripping From Their Butts.

we have two Boston Terriers, Baxter and Gemma. they are both about two years old. In the last couple of months we noticed a really fowl smelling substance coming off Baxter's anus. our vet told us the anal glands are blocked and he emptied it for us. At this stage Gemma was fine. at first Baxter only went for "the cleaning" about every three months, but then it became more frequent until we had to go twice a month or sometimes more. then Gemma started and our vet suggested we have their anal glands removed. We had the procedure done on both our babies and we deeply regret this decision. We love our babies and to see them suffer like this is almost too much. the procedure was done five days ago, and both animals still have poo dripping from their butts. Gemma seems OK even with the "dribble-butt", but Baxter seems listless and sick. They both eat their food and drink water, but Baxter is not the same boy he used to be. they share our bed, so its a bit difficult with the dribble-butt. is this normal? how long will they suffer?

Aug. 25, 2018

baxter and Gemma's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

Some loss of faecal continence may occur temporarily after surgery but there is no set timeline for resolution, however in some cases it may be permanent; it really is a case of wait and see. In cases of chronic anal gland issues, sacculectomy is generally the treatment of choice. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Aug. 26, 2018

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Lexie

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Golden Retriever

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9 Years

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Fair severity

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Fair severity

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my 9.5 year old golden was scooting...at second recheck they found a pea sized tumor in left anal gland .The gland expresion was bloody. the biopsy did not confirm cancer. They recommend getting it removed . She has shown no symptoms for weeks now- calcium levels and blood work good. Took her to the surgeon and he also suggested removal as he said it will grow even if benign. She is in very good health, good weight. active. Just hate putting her thru surgery if it isn't necessary!

July 22, 2018

Lexie's Owner

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3320 Recommendations

Most likely a needle biopsy was done which isn’t as reliable as a full biopsy in determining whether the suspected tumour is cancerous; also as the Surgeon noted, a benign tumour may still grow large and cause problems later on and it would be best to remove the tumour now rather than later as the smaller the tumour is, the less invasive the surgery. However, this is down to you but I would recommend having have tumour removed. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 23, 2018

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Monte

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Catahoula Leopard Dog

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12 Years

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Serious severity

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2 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Feces Leaking From Incision Drain
Anal Tumor
Surgery Complication

My dog had surgery 2 days ago to remove an anal gland tumor. The vet said the tumor invaded part of the colon and they had to suture closed the resulting opening (about a half inch long) in the colon wall when they removed the anal gland tumor. They placed a drain in the external incision site and for 2 days the drainage was blood tinged serum. The vet prescribed Tramadol for pain. I have also been giving Carprofen for inflammation. They did not prescribe antibiotics. This is the 3rd day and the incision looks healthy. He has been partially fecal incontinent since the surgery with runny stools. I am now observing feces coming from the drain and around the opening for the drain. I am worried that the colon incision opened and he is draining feces into the void left by the removed tumor. I am bringing Monte back to the vet today when they open. Do you have any advice for me? Monte is an otherwise healthy 12 year old dog. I am definitely going to ask for antibiotics and expect that they will need to re-do that part of the surgery. I hope my dog will be able to recover from this.

July 7, 2018

Monte's Owner


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3320 Recommendations

Certainly if there is faeces coming from the drain, this is something to visit an Emergency Veterinarian about as it isn’t something you want to wait until morning about; your Veterinarian may have given a long acting antibiotic before discharge so oral antibiotics may not have been necessary. There isn’t anything I can recommend apart from to immediately visit an Emergency Veterinarian. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

July 8, 2018

Monte went back to the vet and they performed surgery to close the leaky colon incision and sent him home with antibiotics. The vet said the colon incision likely opened back up because the tissue has cancer, however the vet noted that it looked like normal healthy tissue the first time he stitched it. He extended the margins of the incision this time, hoping the still normal looking tissue will hold. Monte was surprisingly energetic when I picked him up from the vet to take him home and he continued acting more like his his normal self once we got home. It is now the next morning and Monte is acting much happier than the first time around.

July 8, 2018

Monte's Owner

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Rusty

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Schanauzer

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11 Years

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Mild severity

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Sm. Amt Of Drainage

I have an 11 yr. old Schnauzer that had a lipoma removed from his left hip area and the Vet decided to remove the anal gland while doing this surgery. Mu dog has had nothing but problems since then. Had to take him back to the Vet July 5th for another drain to be placed. Drain tube removed 1 week later and he still has a small amt. of drainage. Will the drainage ever stop?

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Chesney

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Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

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1 Year

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Mild severity

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0 found helpful

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Scooting
Frequent Gland Expression

My 1 year old CKCS has had issues with her anal glands since she was a pup. They fill up quite regularly, even when her stool is solid. On average she needs them expressed every 6-8 weeks. At her 1 year checkup, my vet mentioned the idea of having them surgically removed. I am uneasy about the idea of putting her through surgery unless completely necessary. I know she is uncomfortable/in pain each time they're expressed. Is this something we can manage by just getting them expressed regularly? Or could surgery be worth it in this case? Otherwise she is a healthy and happy pup!

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Bentley

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Olde English Bulldogge

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1 Year

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Serious severity

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3 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Discharge
Smells
Scooting
Anal Gland Incontinence
Licking Area

We have a 1 year old Olde English Bulldogge named Bentley. Over the last 6 months she has been secreting anal gland fluid on a daily basis. I have read so many reports of the Anal Sacculectomy being performed on dogs who struggle to naturally release this, however nothing in regards to dogs who have incontinence with this. We have changed her diet and her stools are very solid, but this has not corrected the issue. We are washing blankets, furniture, and her, constantly but the smell is overwhelming and we cannot keep up on it. She will scoot and will try her hardest to lick the area, so it seems as though she is in discomfort. Our vet has checked her glands physically but has done no tests, all checks conducted are passed and we are always paying to have the glands excreeted in hopes to minimize the problem, but the vet always reports that they are not even close to full... NO KIDDING, cause she is spraying everywhere. My question is what should I seek out to correct this? Is the surgery a good option for this or is something else recommended?

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Zeke

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Pomeranian chihuahua

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8 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

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Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Leaking Anal Gland Fluid

My 8-year old dog's anal gland erupted so we had surgery to remove both of them. Six months later the right anal gland was still secreting fluid so had another surgery to ensure the gland was fully removed. Now three months later, the gland is still secreting fluid (dried up fluid, but doesn't appear to have an infection). Vet said she would not do another surgery, but to put dog on maintenance antibiotics to prevent infection. Vet advised we should see an internal specialist to determine next steps and possibly surgery. What do you recommend?

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