To Remove or Not To Remove... That is the question!

WARNING: This is a long post, but please take the time to read and respond, as my heart is being pulled in many directions with this decision and I truly need some good advice!

As many of you might already know we have been battling with anal gland issues for over 2 years.  To give you a little background info, it began when our Goldendoodle Remington was 6 months old.  This is when we first noticed the odor and finally took him to the vet, not having a clue what the problem was.  We soon learned of anal glands!!!  The vet expressed the glands and we thought that would be the end of it.  Never in our wildest dreams did we think it would progress into the problem it is now.  After that first expression, Remington began having to have them done every 6 weeks. When we would take him to the vet they would be completely full and leaking out of his bum at times.  The vet suggested many things... switch foods (we did), feed him green beans (we did), feed him pumpkin (we did), give him this medication (we did), feed him two meals instead of three to give him bigger poops (we did)... NOTHING HAS WORKED!  The vet told us that he isn't able to express them on his own because they sit back a lot farther than in most dogs.  So we even tried being taught by the vet how to express the glands ourselves (we have only be successful with this once) and believe me, it is not an easy thing to do with an 80 lb dog.

Fast forward to a 1 1/2 years old... Remington was now getting his glands expressed every 4 weeks.  They were filling up so fast.  He needed them expressed like clockwork each month.  We could always tell because he would often leak anal gland fluid... whether it was on our couch, bed, floor... where ever he was.  Now, if you have ever smelled this, you will know that it is a nightmare of a smell.  A drop the size of a pencil easer can clear you from the room.  Can you imagine getting it on things!  YUCK!  Me being the clean freak I am would "freak out" every time this happened!

Fast forward to 2 years.  By this time we were thinking that this was just something we were going to have to deal with for the rest of his life.  He was now getting the glands expressed every 3 weeks.  The vet suggested we try something called an anal gland infusion.  This is when the inject antibotic fluid into the sacs.  You let the fluid sit there and it can prevent the glands from filling up for 6 months to a year in some cases.  However, it may not work at all.  We thought what the heck let's try it.  We had nothing to lose.  We paid the $106 dollars and had it done.  Within a week the antibotic fluid was seeping out.  We had this happen on 3 occasions until we finally took him into the vet not knowing if it was antibotic fluid or anal gland fluid.  They expressed the glands and said it was mostly just antibotic fluid... but that they didn't think the procedure was going to work on Remington.

A few months later we took Remington in to get his annual exam.  He is in perfect health except for this problem.  After 2 years of trying everything suggested by the vet, by our friends, and by our family... we were asked to consider anal gland removal... this is where my heart drops.  I had heard about the surgery by several people, but I have also heard about the many risks, the main one being the dog becoming incontenient after the surgery.  This is our worst nightmare!  If you know my husband and I... we are obsessed with our dog and love him as much as we would our own child.  The vet told us that Remington has a long life to live and the surgery would not only help us from having to constantly shell out money to have them expressed (which adds up every 3 weeks) and the frustration we deal with daily, but it would also take away the stress and pain Remington is experiencing with the glands.  We were also told that he might end up having to have them expressed every 2 weeks or 1 week in the future (judging by how the time frame had been going).  They quoted us at around $1000 for the surgery.  Now, to me the money really doesn't matter if it fixes the problem, but what if we end up with a much bigger problem of incontinence?  Is this a risk we are willing to take.  The vet said that this is something that would RARELY happen... but what if it did?  What would we do with Remington then????  How could he lead a good life with this problem?  How could we?

So here is my question?  Should we have the glands removed and hopefully things turn out just fine and we never have to deal with those suckers again???  Or do we not remove them and deal with anal gland issues the rest of Remington's life and more than likely have to have the suckers removed at some point in time anyway?  My heart is so torn.  I just want the best for my dog.  Please give me your opinions, advice, horror stories, success stories... I just need to know what I should do!

Thanks in advance for any comments :)


Beth and Alfie said...

What a nightmare!! So sorry for you, and your boy. :( I'm no expert on this. However -- I would definitely ask your vet (or whoever would do this surgery) -- how many times has he, personally, done this surgery before? What complications have his patients encountered? It would help my confidence level if I knew my vet was quite familiar and comfortable with the procedure. It's a tough decision -- I think I'd lean toward doing it, but again, I'm no expert & would have to do a lot of research (I'm sure you have!!) Best wishes to you all.

Camilla and Darwin said...

I don't have any advice for you, but I wanted to say that I'm so sorry that Remington has been having this problem. :-( I know you will make a good choice and I hope he feels better soon!