Could an anal gland issue cause seizures?

General questions about tests and procedures for diagnosing canine epilepsy. Please note that we cannot make a diagnosis or interpret specific test results via this forum - please consult your veterinarian for specific advice for your individual pet.

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Could an anal gland issue cause seizures?

Post by Moo » Tue Aug 25, 2015 11:23 pm


I wanted to share the experience we've had with our dog, a 7 and a half year old Rhodesian Ridgeback. She began having seizures around 2.5 years ago, which increased in frequency despite medication. Most recently she was having clusters of 8-10 seizures around every 8 weeks, while taking both phenobarb and levetiracetam (neither of which had ever had any noticeable positive effect). During this same period she also began to experience increasing trouble with her anal glands which the vet diagnosed as 'hypermobile', preventing them from being stimulated to empty when she defecated and so frequently becoming extremely full and leaky and need to be expressed regularly.

In March of this year, she cracked a tooth, requiring surgery and so I asked for the anal glands to be removed, too, while she was under GA. The surgery was carried out successfully in April and Ayla has not had another seizure to date. It has been 24 weeks now and, not only has she had no further seizures but her lethargy and mild ataxia have all but disappeared too. She is now bright and bouncy again, eager to go for walks, chases a stick once more and can even manage a short run with me once again (we used to run half marathon distance together). I also began reducing her levetiracetam dosage at the start of July, its now down to an extremely low dosage.

My vet can offer no explanation, nor support my belief that the defective anal glands were in some way responsible for the seizures but, for me, it appears way more than coincidence. If toxicity is known to cause seizures then is it so far beyond the bounds of possibility that the overfull glands could somehow be triggering a reaction such as this?

MK's mom
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Re: Could an anal gland issue cause seizures?

Post by MK's mom » Wed Aug 26, 2015 6:29 am

Who knows? The vets and human doctors don't know what causes idiopathic epilepsy, but when a dog is seizing secondary to another health issue the seizures cease once that problem is addressed. Like you said, if the toxins had a way of getting into his system then maybe that is what caused the seizures.

Please be very careful when backing off on the drugs because there's no way to know for sure if the anal glands were the culprit or not. My boy was Dx with a low thyroid and had his first seizure in July 2013, nothing again until October of that year, clustered between October and March then suddenly stopped seizing. (fingers and toes crossed). It's nearly 1.5 years without a seizure and although I want to start backing off on the meds I'm afraid because I don't know if the thyroid was the problem or if he's on the perfect dosage to keep the seizures away. You don't want your pup to suddenly start clustering again, please proceed with caution. (he's bubbly and full of energy because the Pb has been reduced)
3.5 yo Irish Setter boy
First seizure 7/26/2013
Last seizure 3/24/2014
5 yo Irish Setter boy
First seizure 1/25/06
Last seizure 9/4/2009

Aug 17, 2004- Sept. 22, 2009
May the shamrocks fall softly sweetpea

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Re: Could an anal gland issue cause seizures?

Post by ShilohsMom » Wed Aug 26, 2015 1:07 pm

I'm happy that you've found some success right now. I certainly understand about wanting to get to a point of removing the meds, but like MK's Mom said, be cautious. Hopefully you've found an answer and you can kiss this disease bye bye!!! :D
Colleen, Rylie, Sophie & angels Izzie & Shiloh
DOB: 11/11/05
First seizure: 07/28//10
Last seizure: 06/27/16

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Re: Could an anal gland issue cause seizures?

Post by Moo » Wed Aug 26, 2015 4:46 pm

Ok, well, thanks guys for your responses - I appreciate your thoughts. I haven't reduced the phenobarb at all at this stage, only the levetiracetam. Her 'bounce' came back way before I began to reduce her meds. In fact she perked up within a week of having surgery, so I don't believe this is related to the meds. She had been unresponsive to any medication in 2 years, despite trying numerous options and combinations; nothing made any noticeable difference. I agree that it would be risky to start reducing her meds if the epilepsy remained ideopathic and I could remotely relate the use of the medication to the absence of seizures. However, what I am suggesting is that perhaps her seizures were directly related to the anal gland issue, therefore not ideopathic at all, but having a direct cause. It makes way more sense than believing that the medication suddenly started to work brilliantly after 2 years.

Everyone, my vet included, is terrified of epilepsy; it's fear of the unknown after all. So given that no one has any better ideas I've just got to go with the evidence in front of me.

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Re: Could an anal gland issue cause seizures?

Post by SmokyJupiter » Tue Jul 02, 2019 2:56 pm

I was wondering how your dog is doing now?
Was the anal gland removal surgery expensive?

My Boomer was diagnosed with idiopathic epilepsy about year ago and he has developed anal gland issues shortly after that. He was on antibiotics for 4 weeks for the infected glands and we had the vet express them each time we followed up with him and it seemed to help for a little while, but it always comes back.

Boomer has been on different combinations of medications for his seizures. We were hoping the latest combination of zonisamide and phenobarbital would be a lasting success, but after 2 months of no seizures, they came back again. He had four grand mals last week.

Thank you

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