Anal sac infections and abscesses may not be the most pleasant of topics to discuss, but to the dog affected it can be an ongoing daily struggle. Our team are regularly asked to see patients with this painful problem and talk about the treatment options.
Anal glands are two small pouches on either side of the anus. The oily, brown fluid they secrete helps dogs identify each other and mark their territory; it is almost like an olfactory fingerprint – this is why dogs often smell each other’s back ends when they first meet!
Normally, when anal glands are healthy, the glands get naturally expressed when dogs pass their stools and a small amount of fluid coats and ‘marks’ the stool. When they are not completely emptied however this is when problems arise. Over time, a build-up of this fluid can lead to impaction, which can result in both infections and abscesses. Symptoms for chronically infected anal glands can include scooting, licking or biting the rear end, a fishy smell, constipation or pain when sitting or passing stools.
This is exactly what happened to Lola, a six-year-old Miniature Long Haired Dachshund. Lola had suffered with infected glands for several months, which meant fortnightly trips to her local vets for both glands to be expressed by the vet, and Lola was often put onto courses of antibiotics when the fluid appeared infected. It was clear to her local vet that the episodes were occurring more and more frequently, and that they were not going to clear up with medical treatment alone.
Poor Lola was incredibly uncomfortable and so her family decided it was time to seek further advice on her condition.
Lola came for a consultation with Professor Nick Bacon who advised the family to consider having both anal glands surgically removed. A bilateral anal sacculectomy is a straightforward procedure and patients tolerate it very well, usually passing stools without problem 1-2 days after the procedure. A few skin sutures need removing at two weeks and then it is back on with their lives, no longer bothered by constant anal irritation and trips to the vet! There is a low risk of postoperative complications such as infection, redness, discomfort and transient incontinence, but the vast majority of patients do well with an uncomplicated recovery.
Together with Lola’s family, it was decided that surgery would be the best course of treatment and her procedure was booked for the following week.
Lola’s surgery went ahead without complication and four days later she was discharged to go home. Her wounds healed without complication and her bowel activity soon returned to normal. Lola’s family have reported that Lola is finally back to her old naughty self!