Vet found a hard mass in our dog's anal gland...
June 16, 2012 4:01 PM   Subscribe

Vet found a hard mass in our dog's anal gland (sorry you just had to read anal gland). Could possibly be Anal Sac Adenocarcinoma, could be benign tumor. Looking for as much information as possible, including how risky it is for a 12 year old dog (collie/shepard -ish mix) to have to go through surgery.

X-rays showed the (likely) tumor has not metastasized, lymph nodes and organs showed no signs of masses. Her blood work came back also looking great with normal amounts of Calcium. No behavior that suggests she is in pain/discomfort or that anything is out of the norm.

Has anyone had any experiences with this type of thing with their dog? Just trying to get as informed as possible before we go to the specialist/surgeon to discuss surgery and possibly radiation or chemotherapy.
posted by slowtree to Pets & Animals (4 answers total)
I am not a vet, but I am a human doctor and I would say that the type of surgery that she would have for an anal gland tumor would probably be pretty low risk, assuming she is an otherwise healthy dog, because the anal gland is superficial and the surgery will not have to involve large incisions or anything intra-abdominal. I know nothing about animal surgery but in humans, a procedure like this (let's say a hemorrhoid surgery) might be done under sedation/local anesthesia rather than general anesthesia, which also decreases the risk.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 4:32 PM on June 16, 2012

My wife and I rescued a 2 legged dog from abandonment at birth by the mother. We bottle fed her for months till she could take solid food. Pooping was always a difficult. She has had the surgery to remove a hardened mass in her anal gland twice, once at three years and another at five.

She responded well to both procedures. I wish I could offer you a crystal ball to the future, but if you think your dog has a strong liver (they need meds for pain), I would say that the surgery is positive for a few (5 or less years) of friendship. DeeDee (our 2 legged dog) turns eight this year.
posted by vozworth at 8:05 PM on June 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: IANAV. The risk is going to be almost entirely dependent on your vet's anesthetic protocol and skill. Monitoring should include blood pressure, EKG, and temperature at bare minimum (blood pressure is extremely important, since unaddressed issues with BP during anesthesia can cause kidney damage - and it's not enough to just monitor it, the vet needs to have the knowledge and resources to address any problems that may crop up). Your dog should be on IV fluids throughout the procedure. There should be a good pain management protocol in place (not just an NSAID). If your vet is educated about modern anesthetic protocols and monitoring, and is using modern drugs and methods, the risk can be minimal, if your vet is old-school and using outdated drugs and methods and minimal monitoring, the risk can be much higher. The surgery itself can be anywhere from relatively minor to serious, that will depend on the mass itself and the vet's surgical skill. Good luck, I probably wouldn't hesitate to have this done on a dog of mine if I had confidence in my vet's anesthetic protocol, masses in that area can be very uncomfortable for the dog.
posted by biscotti at 6:32 AM on June 17, 2012

Best answer: I agree with Biscotti that your primary concern will be the anaesthetic agents used in the procedure, but with good blood results the risk of anaesthetic death or injury should be minimal. Not non-existent, but definitely lower than you may fear.

IANAV but I have assisted with many lengthy, major operations on geriatric dogs. The practice I just left does not routinely use IV fluids, bp monitors, or ECG during ops and I have to say, as long as the animal has been relatively healthy going into surgery, I've witnessed only minimal complications during and immediately after the operation. That doesn't mean that the tools mentioned above are unnecessary, or that the agents won't hasten any organ damage further down the line, but veterinary anaesthetics have come a long way over the past few years. One thing I would strongly recommend is that you ensure the person monitoring your pet during the operation is qualified and trained to do so, as they are the one that will be controlling how much gas your pet will get during the op and monitoring their vitals. Unfortunately, many practices hire unqualified staff in an effort to save money - sometimes they are very experienced and knowledgeable, but without a qualification you have no way of knowing for sure.

I have only heard one surgical horror story pertaining to the anal glands (and I have no way to verify it fwiw), in which a new grad vet accidentally damaged the dog's anal sphincter to the extent that it needed to later be put down. So just make sure that you trust the vet who will be performing the op - if it's a specialist, all the better.

I presume that the tumour will be sent off to a lab for a definitive analysis? I wouldn't worry about radiation or chemo until you get the results. Your vet will go through the pros and cons of the therapies he or she can provide, and will probably recommend you choose the one with the best prospects to improve your pet's quality of life. At the end of the day, that's what's most important.
posted by wigsnatcher at 9:35 AM on June 17, 2012

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