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Questions for Dr. Shawn - Anal Sacs

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Dear Dr. Shawn:
"My cocker spaniel Noodles always has anal sac problems. At least once each month he goes to the veterinarian to have his sacs expressed. I’d like to have surgery on them to have them removed, but his veterinarian is against this. What are your thoughts?"

"Anal sac disease is very common in smaller breeds of dogs like Noodles. Briefly, all dogs and cats have 2 small sacs (anal sacs) located around the anus. The sacs have their own glands that produce a foul smelling liquid; the liquid is normally expressed when the pet has a bowel movement. These sacs are not the same as anal glands, even though many owners and veterinarians call them anal glands. In some pets for unknown reasons, the sacs don’t fully empty during a bowel movement and instead retain the glandular fluid. This causes irritation to the pet; as a result, the pet scoots its rear end or may excessively lick in this area. Usually a trip to the veterinarian will allow the doctor to express the secretions, bringing relief to the pet.

Some pets need this done on a regular basis to prevent further problems. Rarely surgery might be needed. I only recommend this for pets with frequent, chronic problems, usually those pets who actually rupture their sacs or suffer from chronic infections. Surgery is a drastic procedure for such a minor problem, but for pets with chronic infection it may be needed. Rarely, damage to the nerves that run right by the anal sacs may result in fecal incontinence, so I consider surgery a last-ditch option.

At this point I would agree with your doctor that surgery is not needed yet. You might try scheduling Noodles for regular visits to express the sacs; this should help with the problem."




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