I was a vet nurse for five years and have never hesitated to allow my own dogs to undergo necessary routine teeth removals or for pyometra, for example, but I am worried about this operation. My son has helped me to search internet forums and the overwhelming opinion seems to be that Pug owners should avoid this operation going ahead. The operation is planned for this Thursday, but my vet told me last Friday to ring him today if I still had doubts, and I am thinking about postponing it.
I wonder if changing his diet might help? He is on medium junior Royal Canin and has been since he was a pup – his breeder said it was ok for him to have junior food rather than puppy food as a pup because it’s all dog food. I’m not sure if this is truly the case, but apart from blocked anal glands, he is a very healthy and happy dog in all other respects. I have started adding spinach to his diet too.
Has anyone else had a dog who has had this operation? Is this a common operation? I would love to hear from anyone who has, and even more so if the op was carried out on a Pug. He is clearly stressed by the problem and I think he must be in pain. I do not want to prolong his pain, but I do not want to put him under a stressful operation that may not help.
I really want to make an informed decision on this, because Boris is so much more than just a dog and I love him to bits. I am happy to change his diet – I would cook for him if it made him better. I would be really very grateful for any advice.
Thank you very much
Joan, by phone
Alison Logan, vet, says...
The anal sacs lie just inside the anus, at four and eight o’clock as you look at your dog’s backside. They fill with a fluid which has a smell all of its own, quite fishy but not in a pleasant way. When dogs fight, there is often a fishy smell because the anal sacs have been released during the confrontation.
They are thought to have a role in territorial marking. Under normal circumstances, the fluid they contain passes onto faeces as the bowels are evacuated, marking them as belonging to the dog. Personally, I find it hard to believe that each dog has a unique smell for its anal sac fluid.
If the anal sacs do not empty properly but accumulate this fluid, they can become very full and cause the dog all manner of irritation. This may manifest as:
- Scooting – the characteristic dragging of the rear across the floor, usually when you have visitors of a delicate disposition;
- Biting at the back paws;
- Biting at the tail base;
- Leaping up suddenly as if been stung by an insect;
- Odd behaviour, rushing around for no apparent reason.
Emptying anal sacs is generally a simple matter, either externally or with a gloved finger. Some dogs may find this painful, sometimes needing sedation.
Normal anal sac fluid ranges from a brown liquid to a greeny-white toothpaste-like substance. The fluid being warm, it is not uncommon to detect an infection, usually indicated by the presence of blood in the fluid. Rarely, an abscess may develop which is incredibly painful for the dog, and it may burst through the skin. Antibiotics and pain relief are often sufficient but it may be necessary to flush the infected sacs under sedation.
Recurrent anal sac infections and abscessation are a common reason for removal to be recommended. This is not surgery to be undertaken lightly so you are quite right to be giving this careful thought. Faecal incontinence is the major concern, albeit a rare complication. There is also the need for general anaesthesia so the age and general condition of your dog need to be considered. However, if your dog is suffering from repeated anal sac infections and abscesses then removing the anal sacs will solve that.
If your vet has recommended anal sac removal because of a growth in one or both sacs, then there are other factors to consider.
If you are at all unsure about putting your dog through this procedure, then I would go back to your vet to discuss it with him at greater length. He really will not mind talking it over with you because this is an important decision you are making on your dog’s behalf. Your vet is in the best position to advise you because he knows you and your dog and the history leading up to his recommendation to have the anal sacs removed. He will want to know that you are happy and giving fully informed consent for the procedure before he goes ahead.