How to Express Anal Glands

Free stock photo of anal beads, at home, bohemian

Anal gland impactions and infections are fairly common for dogs. They can be painful and uncomfortable for your dog.

Anal glands are pea- to kidney bean-sized sacs on either side of your dog’s anus. They smell awful and release a foul-smelling liquid during defecation. When full, they can cause problems including inflammation and abscesses.

How to find anal glands

When your dog’s anal glands are not draining, they will swell and become uncomfortable. This can lead to an impaction and even an infection, which can be very painful for your dog. Fortunately, expressing the anal glands is a relatively simple task you can do at home. You will need a pair of latex gloves, a clean washcloth and vaseline or another lubricant to use on the anus. You will also need a paper towel to catch any fluid that squirts out of the glands.

If your dog has never had their anal glands expressed, it may take a little practice to get the hang of it. First, you need to locate the glands. They are located at about the 5 and 7 o’clock positions, on either side of the anus. When full they feel like firm grape-sized objects. Once you have located a gland, gently squeeze it with your thumb and index finger in a squeezing motion, trying to milk it out. Be careful not to block the hole with your finger, but be gentle and only apply the pressure that you would feel if you were pressing on your own eyes. You will need to repeat this process on the other anal gland.

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When you are finished expressing the anal glands, wipe the area clean with the washcloth and then pat the dog on their behind to remove any dripping fluid. This should help reduce any discomfort, and you can give them a treat for cooperating! You should always keep in mind that your dog’s diet plays a huge role in the health of their anal glands. Feeding a high fiber, low grain diet will help prevent constipation, which can block the anal glands. It can also help to feed a food with a high level of probiotics and prebiotics.

How to express anal glands

Most pet parents have seen their dog scoot across the floor, and while this is amusing for most people it indicates that your dog’s anal glands are full and need to be expressed. Typically, this is done by a vet or groomer, but you can do this at home if you know how to do it properly. Expressing anal glands relieves discomfort caused by impacted glands and prevents infections that can develop.

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You should only express your dog’s anal glands on a need-based basis. Frequent expressions can cause the gland to swell up and overfill, which could then lead to a blocked exit duct (impaction). Anal gland impaction can also be a breeding ground for bacteria that can cause infection in other parts of your dog’s body.

To manually express your dog’s anal glands, first put on a pair of latex gloves. Then lubricate your index finger and lift up their tail. With your index finger and thumb, carefully run around the anus until you feel a firm grape-sized object at the five or seven o’clock positions. Gently push the gland toward you while milking it with your thumb, removing as much fluid as possible. When the gland feels deflated and the fluid stops dribbling, you have successfully expressed the gland. Repeat this process on the other anal gland if necessary.

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Once you’ve expressed the anal glands, clean up any dribbled fluid with warm water and a sanitary wipe. Then pat your dog on the back and give them a treat for cooperating. You can use a reward to help your dog stay calm while you do this, which is important because it’s not always easy for dogs to be comfortable with this procedure.

If you’re unsure how to do this at home, it’s best to ask your veterinarian or a groomer to show you the proper technique. If you’re concerned that your dog’s anal glands might be impacted, contact your vet right away to set up an appointment for them to be expressed. They’ll be happy to help you resolve your dog’s pain and discomfort. They may recommend a diet that includes more raw vegetables and less kibble to encourage better functioning of the glands. They’ll also tell you if you need to start expressing your dog’s anal glands on more of a regular basis. This will ensure that the glands are not overfilling and creating a stinky mess in your home.

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