Marcus, a 7 year old domestic medium hair cat, is a feisty orange and white boy belonging to Dr. Letic who had a history of anal sac problems. These problems started when he was young: he required regular manual expression of anal sac contents at least 2-3 times per year. At home, he would scoot (drag his back end along the floor) as a sign that his glands were full and that he felt uncomfortable. Over time he began to develop infections in the sacs, particularly the right side. In the fall of 2012, the right anal sac became completely impacted (blocked) and subsequently ruptured. Marcus was treated with antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medications which helped to heal the ruptured gland and surrounding tissue. The healing process however resulted in abormal scarring and complete blockage of the right duct. The only option left to treat Marcus was to have the anal sacs surgically removed. This surgery was done at Southdown Animal Clinic in Mississauga.Anal sacs are paired scent glands in dogs and cats located at approximately 5 and 7 o’clock just inside the anus. Each sac opens onto the margin of the anus through a single duct. Each sac is lined by numerous glands that produce a strong, foul-smelling liquid. A small amount of this liquid is normally expressed each time an animal defecates. Some material can also be released when a pet is startled or scared, or when they are extremely relaxed and happy. Risk factors for anal sac disease (i.e. inability to empty anal sac material normally) include obesity, abnormal anal tone, increased production/secretion of anal sac material, diarrhea and obstruction of the duct(s). Anal sac disease can lead to abnormal distension of the sac(s), infection, pain, discomfort and eventually rupture.
Due to Marcus’ history of chronic anal sac disease and the abnormal scarring and blockage of the right duct, the decision was made to surgically remove both anal sacs (bilateral anal sacculectomy). This was done after the infected/damaged tissue had healed. Pre-anesthetic bloodwork was done to ensure Marcus was a good candidate for anesthesia. He was given a general anesthetic, started on intravenous fluids, with his breathing, heart rate and oxygenation monitored closely by our surgical team. After aseptic preparation of the surgical site, the location of the left sac and associated opening was confirmed by passing a special instrument through the duct. This was not possible on the right side since the duct opening was completely scarred closed. A small white scar was visible at this site, so a small incision was made around it. The entire right anal sac was carefully removed by gently separating it from the surrounding muscle and nerve tissue. The same surgical technique was used to remove the left sac. Closure of the surgical sites was accomplished with fine absorbable sutures. Post-operative pain medication, anti-inflammatories and antibiotics were provided. An E-collar (cone) was also placed to ensure Marcus could not lick or chew the incisions.
Marcus was kept in our Mississauga Hospital for a few days after surgery to ensure that he was able to urinate and defecate without any problems. He was monitored closely for fecal incontinence. At the time of release from the hospital, Marcus was using the litterbox well and was not experiencing any incontinence problems. Since going home he has stopped scooting, uses the litterbox properly, and overall feels much more relaxed and comfortable. Not only is Marcus a happier cat, his human family is happier too!
We have had several other patients undergo anal sac removal at our Mississauga hospital over the past couple of years. These have included both dogs and cats. The canine patients were primarily German Shepherds who had recurring problems with infections/chronically open wounds called a “fistulas” (most often described as Anal Furunculosis) that did not heal properly without extensive lifetime medication. Once the anal glands glands were healed (Intact before surgery) and removed, these dogs had much more energy, were significantly more comfortable and no longer required any medication to manage their infections and inflammation.
The cats that had their glands removed also suffered from recurrent infections, inflammation and chronic discomfort. Once their glands were removed, their owners were surprised at how much more comfortable they were. These cats were also able to discontinue all medications required to manage their anal sac problems and were overall much more social, energetic and happy at home. One cat, Sam B., did so well after surgery that his family described him as becoming a “brand new cat”. His owners truly felt that the decision to remove his glands was “the best thing we ever did for him”.
Anal sac removal can be a very rewarding, beneficial procedure for the right patient. Do not hesitate to ask us if your pet might benefit from this surgery!
Anal sac removal-right side