Thursday, January 17, 2013

How to Express Your Dog's Anal Glands

Photo: Brambleberries Photography
One popular question asked by pet owners to me was always "How do I express my dog's anal glands?". It always came from the clients I would least expect to be willing to do this dirty task themselves, and after I showed them they were usually back in a month or so for another anal gland expression. Most people are willing to pay the $10-$30 fee to have this done at their vet's office or grooming facility. But, there are some who want to know how to do it themselves.

I've decided to write a little how-to for anyone who was ever interested in learning how to express their dog's anal glands. But first, a little more information on anal glands.
Anal glands are located right inside a dog's rectum and are filled with a very strong-smelling stinky substance.   The substance has a sort of fishy odor to it. The sacs are usually expressed when your dog has a bowel movement. Many dogs will express them when they become scared or excited too. 

Why do dogs even have anal glands? The strong scent is used as a means to mark their territory. I'm not sure why they do it when they become scared - maybe it's a stinky secret weapon. 

Some dogs, for whatever reason, get impacted anal sacs. They don't express their sacs normally and the substance inside becomes very firm and can even rupture. Small breed and obese dogs seem to be prone to this problem. Signs that your dog is experiencing discomfort from their anal glands are excessive licking of the rear end and "scooting" their butt across the floor. 

So, after reading all of that if you're still sure that you want to give it a go, here's what you need to do:
  1. Get your supplies ready. You should have some gloves (for your own personal hygiene), lubrication, baby wipes or paper towels. 
  2. I would not recommend doing this alone. Get one person to hold your dog for you. The bathtub is usually a good place. 
  3. Put your gloves on and lube up your index finger. 
  4. If your dog's butt were a clock, the anal glands would be located at 3 and 9 o'clock. Try to stand to the side of your dog's butt and not directly behind it. I would also turn my face away. (Wouldn't want to be sprayed!)
  5. Place your index finger on one of the glands, inside the rectum. Your thumb should be on the outside. You should be able to "pinch" the gland between your thumb and index finger. 
  6. Once you've found it, which isn't always easy, gently squeeze from back to front. I would say like you're milking a cow, although I've never done that. But, I'd imagine that it might be similar?
  7. Anyways, try to catch the anal gland secretion in the palm of your hand or the paper towel so it doesn't spray everywhere.
  8. Repeat this on the 2nd anal gland. 
  9. Wipe your dog's butt with your baby wipes or paper towels. Maybe spray some doggy cologne. 
  10. Wash your hands! 
Hope these tips help you express your dog's anal glands in the future. And again, sorry if I grossed anyone out. 

Does your dog need to have their anal glands expressed regularly? If so, are you a do-it-yourself-er or are you more likely to pay someone else to do it?

30 comments:

  1. Yikes I have never had that done so far. Crikey I am lucky. Have a terrific Thursday.
    Best wishes Molly

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    1. Lol, well you are very lucky indeed then Molly!

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  2. Bit early in the morning for me..BOL Have a great Furzday zzoozz

    Mollie and Alfie

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  3. My kitty has to have his anal glands expressed every three months. I take him to the vet every time. I can't really see what I'm doing (I'm blind) so I'd much rather the vet do it so I don't accidentally do something I'm not supposed to.

    I'm sure the dog owners who want to save time and money expressing the glands themselves will appreciate you telling them how.

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    1. It's the same process for cats, but cats are much smaller and seem to be more difficult to do it to. I'm glad you take your kitty to the vet for this, it can be a problem for kitties just as well.

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  4. This is a topic coming up on my blog soon. I'm the person tasked with picking up dog poo and expressing the anal glands when it comes up. My boyfriend can't handle it, but I will teach him how to do it before the year is out.

    If I walk towards him with a tissue, he'll jump and run. "I'm blowing my noise and the dogs are outside, Chicken!!!!"

    Kimberly

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    1. Haha! Well, it's definitely no fun task! My boyfriend would hold the dog if I needed him to. I'm sure he'll be a pro in no time lol!

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  5. Thankfully, I've never had to to do this ... yet. I'll probably be one of those ppl who take him to his beloved vet and have them do it. Ugh... power to ya for doing it! Great write up!

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    1. Hopefully he never needs to have it done!

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  6. OK Ann, you have tackled one of the most unpleasant aspects of dog ownership and have done it in an informative manner...As one who does this task myself, while it's less than fun, it's really not all that difficult and it does save a lot of cash

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    1. How cool, a DIY-er! I am interested in the gross and unpleasant, can't you tell? lol... I'm glad that you find this something easy to do and having a cooperative pet helps a TON!

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  7. Wow, that is interesting. But I think I'll just send him off to the groomers. Fortunately, my pup doesn't have much of a problem, Whewwwwww!

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    1. Glad your dog doesn't have this issue Loy!

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  8. This is a very helpful post, but I'm not sure if I have the guts to try! Kelly (cocker spaniel/dachshund mix) needs this done often. But sometimes when they do it at the vet's she pulls away and cries. I would worry that I was hurting her. It sure would be nice though, because it seems that as soon as they do it, she needs it done again.

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    1. Hey Peggy, it can be a bit challenging. Kelly's reaction is pretty normal compared to other dogs. I don't know how painful it is, but I can only imagine that it's not very comfortable for the dogs.

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  9. Ah, the smell that will not die, but makes people wish they could be dead...

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  10. I only read as far as "...lube up your index finger..." Done. It's not gonna happen!!

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    1. Lol, I don't blame you Genevieve! It certainly isn't pleasant!

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  11. My dog has just started to have this issue. Thank you so much for the info about the weight-she has gained weight recently. The vet tech does it along with her groomer since her's are harder to reach than normal. Worth the money to make sure it is done safely since they sit further inside. Great info. Another reason for her to lose some weight.

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    1. A lot of people today have also mentioned that feeding a very high quality diet to make sure her stools are nice and firm might help. So dogs are harder to express than others. Thanks for stopping by!

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  12. Woof! Woof! From my mom it is interesting to know (that's about it) ... she takes me to the vet. Golden Thanks for sharing. Lots of Golden Woofs, Sugar

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  13. When my dog was still on earth, the vet only had to do this once when she was about 5 years old. She gave me a homeopathic remedy and it never came back. My dog was nearly 18 when she crossed over the rainbow into furryland.
    The homeopathic vet showed me how to do it and I would have done it myself if it came back. Lucky dog and me it didn't :)

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  14. I have never had a problem with my dogs so haven't had to do that, thank heavens. But great info.Don't think I really want to do that. But good that you told us how to do it.

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  15. Our big dogs have never had problems but my little dogs did and I paid the vet. I think that is best for us:)

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  16. Thanks for this post. We may have to do this for Freighter. We will see.

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  17. As a nurse who has had to do this sort of thing with people for stool impactions, this wasn't terribly gross sounding to me. I know my small dog has scooted twice and last year a Vet expressed his anal glands. He does eat a higher quality dog food, but whatever. He is normally afraid of even windchimes, but this went fine. I saw a demonstration on You Tube and it was very easy to understand. I felt it immediately on the right and it expressed thickly, just sort of dripped down...didn't shoot out. But the left one didn't express of feel swollen. Is it possible to have only one needing help?

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    1. Sure! I have actually met one dog who had an anal gland surgery done, but only one gland was removed. Sometimes one could be worse than the other - definitely.

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