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How To Express a Dog's Anal Glands

Why do dogs scoot their bums on the carpet, rug, or lawn? Where are a dog's anal glands? What do anal glands do on a dog? How to clean a dogs anal sacs. Learn about the reasons why a dog may have impacted anal glands and how to express them yourself, or where to take your dog to have its anal glands drained.

Dogs sometimes scoot their bums on the floor, or lawn, this is often the first clue that the owner gets to the fact that the dog is having problems with his, or her, anal glands. Please note that scooting sometimes indicates a more serious problem such as a tumor. In cats the signs of an anal gland problem are usually refusing to defecate in the litter box.

Anal glands are small sacs on either side of the anus in many mammal species, including dogs. Often referred to as scent glands, these sacs normally empty when the dog defecates or is under stress. They are used to mark territory and are what dogs are sniffing when they sniff each others rump. In fact the act of tail wagging helps distribute the scent in the air (remembering that dogs have much better noses than humans) and acts as a form of communication – which is why dogs with docked tails are at a social disadvantage.

Anal glands can become a problem for any dog, but anal gland problems are more common in small dogs particularly when they are fed a canned food diet. Canned food normally results in softer stools and softer stools sometimes do not trigger the anal glands to empty.

Obesity is another contributing factor to why a dog's anal glands might not empty on their own. This being related to the fact that obese dogs often have poor muscle tone.

Dogs who have been sick with diarrhea may also have anal gland problems due to not passing firm stools which would clean out their anal sacs.

Problems with the anal glands many also originate when the dog is given a new diet, possibly one containing ingredients it is allergic too.

In the case where the anal glands are not being emptied the contents build up, causing discomfort for the dog, which is why many dogs try to find relief by rubbing their bums on the carpet or lawn. If neglected the anal glands can become infected or even rupture.

How to Clean the Anal Glands of a Dog

Most people take their dog to a veterinarian, or dog groomer, to have the anal glands expressed. Typically the veterinarian charges slightly more. Dog groomers may include this service in their regular grooming fee, or may do it as an additional service. Anal glands should not be manually expressed unless it is indicated that they need cleaning.

For people who have never cleaned their dogs anal glands they may want to have their veterinarian, or groomer show them how, this way they know what to expect in addition to how to do it.

The anal glands can be located on either side of the anus, slightly below midway.

The most simple way of cleaning the sacs is by pressing inward (towards the anus), and upward from beneath the sac itself. Another method involve internally pressing on the anal gland with your finger (use gloves). To do this rub the gland as you withdraw your finger. Expressing the glands internally is much more effective. In either case you should have a tissue ready to clean up the secretions which will be anywhere from tan to brown or gray in color, and will have a foul smell. Normally the contents are somewhat watery, if thick it means there was an impaction problem. If the secretions are bloody or contain puss this would indicate an infection and you may want to speak to your vet about antibiotics.

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Comments (2)

no votes left so I 1+

My one dog needs this done regularly, but my other dog is able to express on his own. Great info on a "sticky" matter! ; )

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