Your dog doesn't really need his anal glands. The noxious odor they secrete is used by canines for marking territory -- not a function necessary for today's family pet. In modern dogs, anal glands end up causing problems rather than serving any useful purpose. If your dog experiences issues with his anal glands, surgical removal is an option, although side effects to the surgery can occur. Besides surgical side effects, you'll see no others except the fact that he doesn't suffer from their presence anymore.
The anal glands, or sacs, sit on either side of your dog's anus. Inside each sac are sebaceous glands, responsible for secretion production. Usually, the glands empty out regularly when your dog poops. If the oily, smelly secretion doesn't come out in the feces, your dog's anal glands can become impacted. If your dog starts scooting his butt across the floor, that's a sign of anal gland impaction.
If your dog's anal glands are impacted, your vet can manually express them and can show you how to perform this task. Anal gland problems, especially in overweight dogs, are likely to recur. Abscesses and ruptures are other possibilities. If your dog constantly needs his glands expressed, consider surgical removal as an alternative. If your vet discovers an anal gland carcinoma, treatment will consist of surgically removing the glands. If it's caught early, most dogs have a good prognosis. Signs of anal gland cancer include difficultly eliminating, anal swelling and long, thin stools.
Your vet might recommend a specialist to perform the surgery. VCA Animal Hospitals refers to it as "a delicate and specialized surgery." Nerves controlling your dog's sphincter, allowing him to defecate, lie near the anal sacs. Damage to these nerves can result in serious consequences.
Your dog might experience loose stools for nearly a month after the operation. There might also be post-surgical drainage and swelling. If there is any nerve damage connected with the surgery, your dog might permanently lose control of his bowels. There's always a risk of infection with surgery, but your vet can prescribe antibiotics to combat it. Your dog must wear an Elizabethan collar -- the cone of shame -- so he won't lick or bite at the incision. If a vet fails to completely remove the anal sac, your dog might end up with drainage continually coming out of the area, necessitating further surgery to complete the job.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.