This article explains why Alvin, a 3-year-old Bichon-Cockapoo mix, required surgery to remove his anal glands. Note that your dog may need periodic anal gland expression but will not require surgery.
In case you are unfamiliar with the location of a dog’s anal glands, they are situated on either side of his anus, at approximately 4 and 8 o’clock. Their purpose is to mark territory and to identify a dog uniquely. Any canine can find out about another dog’s age, sex, and general health by sniffing his anal glands.
When a skunk releases the obnoxious smell to ward off its enemies, the excretion emanates from his anal glands. Fortunately, a dog’s glands do not excrete as bad a smell, although owners who express their dog’s glands say it’s downright offensive.
Let’s get back to Alvin’s issue. His anal gland problem started with scooting (rubbing his butt along the ground). Some dogs will also lick or bite their butts or chase their tails.
We tried to express his glands but failed to produce any fluid. So off we went to the vet’s office.
In two separate visits, the vet injected antibiotics into his glands. Note that Alvie, our first dog (we have two Cockapoos), had to be knocked out for the antibiotic injection procedure. It’s frightening to see your dog “go under” because it seems as though the vet is putting him to sleep forever. Fortunately, a second needle brings the dog back to consciousness quickly. He may appear woozy, but he’s okay.
Each time Alvin had this procedure, the infection cleared up, but then returned a few weeks later. When he started scooting again, we knew it was time for another vet trip.
By the third visit, the vet announced that Alvin’s glands were not properly releasing fluid on evacuation because the canal transporting the fluid was clogging up. The “canal” was probably too small. Once it clogged, the dog developed an infection. The condition was not going to resolve itself.
The vet suggested anal gland removal surgery performed by himself. Since the author had already researched this surgery, the biggest post-op concern was incontinence. It seems that some dogs will become forever incontinent after their glands are removed.
The thought of keeping Alvin in diapers was not pleasant. Equally unpleasant were thoughts of bringing the dog to the vet every month for antibiotic injections. We opted for the surgery.