All About Dog Anal Glands

Have you ever seen a dog scooting his butt across the floor and wondered what he is doing? Sometimes this can be a sign of intestinal parasites but, more often, it is due to a problem with the anal glands. Keep reading to learn more about common problems dog anal glands and to learn how to safely express them yourself.

Problems with Dog Anal Glands

Before you can understand common problems with anal sacs in dogs, you need to know what they are and what purpose they serve. As you can guess from the name, anal sacs are small sacs of fluid located between your dog’s internal and external anal sphincter muscles.

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These sacs contain an oily substance with a strong odor which is excreted along with the dog’s stool to leave his scent marker behind. This is why dogs often greet each other by sniffing butts – the anal sacs are what carry most of your dog’s unique scent. Some experts believe that the material in the anal sacs function more as a lubrication for stool, making it easier to pass.

Though they aren’t technically glands, anal sacs are similar in function and they can be affected by similar problems to other glands. Your dog’s anal sacs are prone to infection and they can become impacted or overfilled as well.

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For most dogs, the material in the anal sacs is semi-liquid but some dogs have a thicker anal sac material that is more prone to impaction. When the sacs become infected or inflamed, they may need to be drained either by hand or via surgical procedure. Keep reading to learn how to express your dog’s anal glands on your own.

How to Safely Express Your Dog’s Anal Glands

Expressing your dog’s anal glands is by no means a pleasant experience but it is necessary from time to time. Here is how you do it:

  1. Put on a pair of rubber gloves – you don’t want to do this with your bare hands.
  2. Fold up a few paper towels into a pad to absorb the expressed liquid.
  3. Gently lift your dog’s tail and place the pad of paper towels over his anus, covering the entire area.
  4. Through the paper towels, use your thumb and forefinger to gently squeeze together the two sides of your dog’s anus at the 4 o’clock and 8 o’clock positions.
  5. Use the paper towels to absorb all of the liquid then wash your dog’s anus with soap and water then dry it well.
  6. If this procedure does not yield any liquid or if your dog shows signs of pain or discomfort, the glands may be impacted and you should seek veterinary care.

If you want to avoid having to express your dog’s anal glands, make sure that your dog is getting enough fiber in his diet. Fiber helps to add bulk to his stool so that it naturally expresses the anal glands with each passing. Your other option is to have the glands expressed by your veterinarian or a professional groomer as needed.