Tavares Animal Hospital

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How to Express Your Dog’s Anal Glands

how to express our dog's anal glands

If you’ve ever wondered if you could express your dog’s anal glands at home, you came to the right place. If you have a small or medium sized dog, you’re probably well acquainted with having your pup’s anal glands expressed. But, a trip to the veterinarian isn’t always necessary. Some dogs are easily done by you at home. Read on to learn everything you never wanted to know about how to express your dog’s anal glands.

Anal Gland Basics

All dogs have 2 anal glands, also called anal sacs. They are located on either side of the rectum at roughly 4 o’clock and 8 o’clock. These glands continually fill with a very smelly fluid. The smell is generally a foul fishy odor. Each dog has their own particular scent. This is how dogs tell each other apart. That’s why dogs sniff each other’s butts. When your dog has a bowel movement, the glands empty a small amount of fluid. If the glands don’t excrete fluid on their own problems arise. Small dogs and dogs with particularly chunky rears have the most trouble emptying their glands. If the glands become clogged or impacted it can result in infection, abscess or a ruptured anal gland.

dog anal gland anatomy

3 Most Common Signs Your Dog’s Anal Glands Need to be Expressed

  • Scooting his butt on the ground.
  • Liking or biting his butt.
  • Foul fishy odor, you can’t miss it.
how to express your dog's anal glands, dog scooting

How You Can Express Your Dog’s Anal Glands at Home

Supplies Needed

  • Pair of disposable gloves
  • Lubricant
  • Paper towels
  • Soapy water, or do this immediately before a bath
  • A helper

Let’s Get Started

  1. Have your helper stand your dog up, keeping one arm or hand under the belly to keep your pup in a standing position. The other arm should be loosely around the neck keeping your pup from trying to turn around.
  2. With gloved hands, generously lubricate your index finger.
  3. Lift your dog’s tail and take a look. Make sure everything looks normal. Look for any redness, blood, pus or swelling. If all is well, insert your lubricated finger gently into the rectum.
  4. How far you need to go is dependent on the size of the dog. You will feel when your finger slips just past the muscle.
  5. With your thumb on the outside of the anus, run your finger along from about 9 o’clock to 6 o’clock. You should feel a pea to plum sized object somewhere around 7 to 8 o’clock.
  6. Place a paper towel covering the anus. Anal glands can squirt pretty far sometimes. You want to keep the area covered at all times. It’s tempting but, please don’t try to get a good look at exactly what you’re doing, you will regret it!
  7. Gently squeeze the glands and “milk” the fluid toward the rectum. When you can barely feel the gland, it is empty. Some glands take a good amount of pressure to get them to release. If you are not able to empty them with gentle pressure, consult your veterinarian.
  8. Empty the second gland using the same procedure.
  9. When both glands are empty, clean up the area with soapy water and rinse well.
dog anal gland opening diagram

When To Consult a Veterinarian

  • You are unable to get the glands to express easily.
  • The fluid expressed is thick, any color other than brown, there is any amount of blood or pus.
  • Expressing the glands does not relieve your dog’s discomfort.
  • You notice blood, pus or redness when lifting your dog’s tail.

Click here to learn how to properly clean your dog’s ears and brush her teeth.

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