Anal gland surgery? Need thoughts

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Anal gland surgery? Need thoughts

This is a discussion on Anal gland surgery? Need thoughts within the Dog Health forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Dogs category; A few weeks ago our 12 yo, neutered labx was diagnosed with an infected anal gland. We did the 2-week course of antibiotics, went back ...

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Old 04-15-2012, 10:44 AM
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Anal gland surgery? Need thoughts

A few weeks ago our 12 yo, neutered labx was diagnosed with an infected anal gland. We did the 2-week course of antibiotics, went back in for his recheck and got the all-clear. The Dr. Did caution us to keep an eye on him and if we noticed the same warning signs again to bring him back in as we would need to discuss the next level of treatment which would be packing the glands with antibiotic packing, which would require sedation and if that didn't take care of it we would have to remove the anal glands, again, requiring sedation.

The all-clear was given just about 2 weeks ago. Now, this weekend I am noticing he is trying to lick himself again, sniffing his rear and last night when I went to love on him on his bed, I noticed discharge on the bed. It looked dark and a bit bloody.

The issue I am currently working through, before I take him back in, is next steps. The last time Charlie had a surgery, 2 years ago, he did not respond well to the anasthesia. It took him a full 24 hours to come out from under the sedation, to the point we thought we were going to lose him. Now I am very worried about putting him under again, it is a high risk.

Which brings me to the question, based on his history, if he is infected again, I would like to try another course of antibiotics, maybe the first round just wasn't enough, before jumping to a procedure requiring sedation. But, I don't want to put Charlie through another course of antibiotics if it isn't going to help. So, if he is infected and the Dr recommends packing over another round of antibiotics, would it make sense, with his history of poor recovery, to just go ahead and remove them? That sounds very drastic to me but potentially putting him under twice seems like I would be tempting fate.

I am honestly struggling with this. Could the last vet that did his surgery just not have sedated him correctly, leading to his poor recovery and everything would be fine this time around?

I'm really torn and don't want to walk into this appointment without being prepared. I'm researching the packing and surgery to figure out side effects, etc but real life experience would be very helpful.

Thanks in advance.
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Old 04-15-2012, 11:12 AM
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A couple of thoughts......

If they are just infusing the anal glands, they may get away with some sedation or even a good scratch on the head.... I've infused lots of anal glands in awake animals with no issues at all... they don't love it, but it's not any worse than an anal gland expression, other that the fact that you're fussing around back there for a little bit longer.

As far as the poor anesthetic recovery.... there are different anesthetic options, and they should be able to tailor an anesthetic protocol to your dog's needs; including choice and dose of of premedications, IV fluids, pain medications, local anesthetics etc.... If he didn't do well with what they used last time, they should be able to use something different.

Finally.... anal gland removal is not something to take lightly, and it's something I only recommend for cases that can't be managed medically. They are very uncomfortable after the surgery and it can be difficult to keep them from licking or dragging their butt and damaging the surgery site.... but that does improve within a couple of days. More serious of a consideration is the fact that the anal glands are buried in the sphincter muscles of the anus. Poor surgical technique, or excessive tissue scarring, or even just bad luck.. could cause enough damage to these muscles and lead to fecal incontinence. Knock on wood it is something that has never happened to me, but I warn every client considering it of the possibility, and feel that it could happen even if the surgery is flawless.

So, if it was me, I would go for the antibiotics plus infusion.... but it might also be a good idea to do a culture of them before you start the antibiotics, maybe it needs a different antibiotic.
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Old 04-15-2012, 11:27 AM
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I'm glad I got here second so I didn't have to write all of that out... lol

I ditto everything Mythbuster said above, especially with the warning of potential fecal incontinence.

I'd also advise to make sure they are doing a VERY good rectal examination/anal gland exam to make sure there isn't anything there that is predisposing your dog to these anal gland issues. Make sure, especially at his age, there isn't a mass in that gland etc.
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Old 04-15-2012, 12:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Holly View Post
I'm glad I got here second so I didn't have to write all of that out... lol

I ditto everything Mythbuster said above, especially with the warning of potential fecal incontinence.

I'd also advise to make sure they are doing a VERY good rectal examination/anal gland exam to make sure there isn't anything there that is predisposing your dog to these anal gland issues. Make sure, especially at his age, there isn't a mass in that gland etc.
How do I insure they are doing this? Is there a way I can tell if there is a mass?

He has a lot of fatty tumors all over his chest and belly area....could he have developed a fatty tumor in his anal gland or in an area around his gland that could be causing this?
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Old 04-15-2012, 12:09 PM
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I would just simply ask them if the area feels okay, flat out ask them if there is a mass in there or not since he's an older guy and these things do arise. If there isn't, no harm no foul. If they didn't thoroughly check and you ask this question, they should go back and make sure of it.

Fatty masses can happen anywhere, but I'd be more concerned of a worse type of mass in the gland. Older dogs can get adenocarcinomas of the anal glands and, while I'm in no way saying that is what your dog has, it should absolutely be ruled out. They'd feel a mass in the gland when they're expressing them. They could also check his blood work because this mass is often associated with an elevated calcium level.
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Old 04-15-2012, 12:14 PM
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Ok-good stuff. Thank you both very much. I'll update after our visit this week.
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Old 04-16-2012, 10:05 PM
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Got back from the vet about an hour ago (I love that our vet takes appointments until 10 pm). His right anal gland was dry and small. The left had a small amount of discharge, brown. The vet was not concerned about what he had gotten out of it. He explained that we can only feel a small portion of the gland and there could be something else going on that we just can't see yet. His anus was not red or swollen or showing signs of being irritated.

He tested him for worms as well, that was negative. So, after much discussion, we decided to take a wait and see approach. We've lost 3 pets in 2 years so I may be being hyper-vigilant. I just worry.

Then, the vet pointed out a new growth on Charlie's inside, right foot. It's a bit larger than a pea and it's rock hard. It feels completely different from all the other fatty tumors on his body. So, we have to keep an eye on this one and if it changes, head back in. Poor pup.

Thanks for all the advice this weekend, I felt alot better prepared going in for the visit.
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Old 04-17-2012, 08:10 AM
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So, we have to keep an eye on this one and if it changes, head back in. Poor pup.
Did he take a sample of it with a needle? I'd have had him do at least that to see if he got any bad cells from it...
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Old 04-17-2012, 09:38 AM
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I just want to say how wonderful it is to have the obviously expert, competent, knowledgeable help from Mythbuster and Holly on this forum!

You two are fabulous! Thank you for your time and the education we are all getting by reading your posts.
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Old 04-17-2012, 09:40 AM
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Thanks Tess :-)
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