Anal Sacculectomy: Anal Gland Removal Surgery

Learning that your pet needs surgery can be an overwhelming experience, especially if you are unsure of what the procedure entails. At Anicira, we work with pet parents to ensure you are well-informed before your pet’s surgery. Our veterinary team provides compassionate care before, during, and after surgery to ensure your pet is safe and comfortable.

What is an anal sacculectomy, and why does my pet need it?

Anal gland removal surgery – also known as an anal sacculectomy – removes one or both of your pet’s anal glands to provide relief from infections, abscesses, blockages, or tumors.

What is the purpose of anal glands? How will removing them impact my pet?

Anal glands secrete a scented fluid that is unique to each dog during defecation. This is how dogs mark their territory. Surgically removing the anal glands has no impact on your pet’s overall health, and your pet will be able to live a less painful life without experiencing any adverse side effects.

Pre-Surgical Instructions

Admission Time – Bring your pet to Anicira at 7 am.
Food – You may feed your pet a quarter of their normal breakfast no later than 6 am.
Water – Your pet may have water up until the time of the surgery.
Pre-surgical exam – Your pet must be in good health and show no signs of sickness such as coughing, sneezing, or diarrhea.
Medical records – Please bring proof of rabies vaccination if you have not already provided this. If your cat or dog has not been previously vaccinated or lacks proof of vaccination, we will administer a rabies vaccine on the day of surgery. If you have not already sent your medical records, please bring all relevant medical records.

Anal Sacculectomy

Before surgery, our veterinary team will perform a thorough pre-surgical examination to ensure your pet is a good candidate for anesthesia. It is strongly recommended that your pet receives pre-anesthetic blood work to ensure that no health concerns go undetected.

Your pet will be under general anesthesia. The surgical team will prepare the surgical site by shaving and then cleaning the area to remove bacteria and decrease the risk of potential infection.

The surgeon will then perform the anal sacculectomy by removing one or both of your dog’s anal glands via an incision next to the anus.

Caring for Your Pet After Anal Gland Removal Surgery

Anesthesia may take 24 to 48 hours to wear off.

  • Your pet may be groggy or whiny during this time.
  • Keep your pet confined in a secure, quiet, and comfortable space. We recommend a crate or a small room.
  • Isolate them from other pets and children while recovering.

Make sure your pet wears their Elizabethan Collar (E Collar / Cone)

  • Your pet’s surgical site will take 10 to 14 days to heal. During this period, they should wear an e-collar at all times.
  • Allowing your pet to lick their incision can lead to infection or dehiscence (incision opening).

Offer food & water after surgery.

  • When your pet returns home, offer them food and water.
  • Anesthesia may cause nausea, so your pet may not be interested in food.
  • If vomiting occurs, wait 12 hours before offering more food.
  • Resume regular feeding the day after surgery. Your pet’s appetite should be back to normal within 24 hours.
  • If your pet refuses to eat, you may try offering a bland diet such as white rice and lean protein (for example boiled chicken breast) while they regain a normal appetite.
  • Please do not feed your pet junk food, table scraps, or milk.

Cool compresses applied to the surgical site may be recommended to help decrease swelling and perineal irritation.

  • If your pet tolerates this, apply a cool compressed (ice pack wrapped in a thin dish towel) to the site for 10-15 minutes. This can be repeated 2-3 times a day.

Give all medications as directed.

  • These will include medication to control post-operative pain and may also include an antibiotic. Please follow the instructions on the label.
  • If possible, please give the medications with food. If your pet has no appetite, please ensure that they still take the medications.
  • OTC pain relievers such as Tylenol and Advil are toxic to pets. Please do not give these to your pet.

Monitor your pet’s stool.

  • After surgery, we want stools to be a normal consistency and not too firm or too loose.
  • Dietary modification with a high-fiber diet and/or stool softeners are sometimes used to help with reducing the pain and straining associated with defecation.

Check surgical incision daily for the first week.

  • Your pet’s surgical site will be healing for 10-14 days.
  • What you see on the day of surgery is what we consider normal.
  • Monitor for increased redness, swelling, discharge, or pulling apart of the incision.

Other shaved areas

  • Your pet may have shaved areas on one or more legs from where an IV catheter was placed, as well as under the tail for monitoring equipment during anesthesia.
  • These areas may be irritated or bruised. If your pet is excessively licking, please use a taste deterrent spray or e-collar to prevent self-trauma.
  • If your pet went home with a brightly colored wrap on their leg, this should be removed 30 minutes after returning home.

Limit your pet’s activity and keep them clean, dry, and warm for 10 days after surgery.

  • Ensure your pet is supervised around all potential hazards (including stairs)
  • Pets should be kept indoors so they can stay clean, dry, and warm.
  • Dogs should be walked outside on a leash to urinate and defecate. No off leash activity during the entire recovery period.
  • No running, jumping, playing, swimming, or other strenuous activity.
  • Do not bathe your pet or have it groomed during the recovery period.

Rare but serious complications of anal sacculectomy surgery

Complications from an anal sacculectomy are rare. If your pet experiences these issues after surgery, please contact Anicira.

  • Difficulty defecating or if the stools are not of a “normal” consistency
  • Infection of the surgical site
  • Redness or discharge at the surgical site
  • Dehiscence of the surgical site – both sides of the surgical site should be touching. Watch for any gapping.
  • Fecal incontinence can occur in up to 33% of dogs, especially with the removal of larger masses. This is usually temporary. If the tumor is only on one side, the incontinence is typically partial in that the dog has difficulty controlling bowel movements but not continuous dropping of stool.

Please contact Anicira, your primary care veterinarian, or an emergency clinic if any of the following occur:

  • No urine passed for more than 24 hours
  • Pale gums
  • Severe pain, depression or weakness
  • Vomiting or Diarrhea
  • Labored breathing
  • Decreased appetite for more than 24 hours
  • Lethargy lasting more than 24 hours