Dog Anal Gland Care – Problems & Solutions

You know all that doggy butt-sniffing that we humans seem to find either appalling or hilarious? Ever ask yourself what that’s all about?

You may not think of that dog in your bed as a predator, but at heart, he is. And like all predators, your dog has anal sacs (anal glands) located on both sides and slightly below his anus. They produce fluid with a distinctive odor that identifies him and tells other dogs his sex, approximate age, health status, and other things.

Healthy dog anal glands express, or empty, this fluid when the dog has a bowel movement. Unfortunately, some dog anal glands don’t work as they should because of inherited malformations, or because of a history of poor-quality foods that produce poor-quality bowel movements.

If the anal glands don’t empty properly, they can become impacted, making bowel movements difficult or painful, and potentially leading to infections or abscesses.
It’s not uncommon for a rescued dog to have a history of anal gland problems. Your dog may damage the delicate tissue around his anus in his attempts to relieve his own discomfort, so if you see him biting at his butt, or scooting it along the ground, take him to the vet.

Impacted dog anal glands can often be relieved by manually expressing, or squeezing out, the fluid they contain. This is a very smelly process, but if you’re game you can have your vet or groomer teach you how to do it. Most people prefer to pay a professional to express their dog’s anal glands.

If your dog’s anal glands get impacted frequently, ask your vet to recommend a high-fiber diet to create bulkier stools. If that doesn’t work, and if your dog has repeated infections or abscesses from impaction, the anal glands may need to be removed.


Dog Anal Gland Care

Some dogs never have a problem with their anal glands so it’s up to you to be aware of the warning signs. The famous scoot across the floor is a good indication that your dog needs his anal glands expressed. Other signs are a fishy odor around your dog’s behind or soft stool.


The Role of Nutrition

By feeding your dog quality dog food with fewer cereal fillers, he will likely produce firmer stools, which will naturally express the anal glands. Be sure to check with your vet before starting any supplements.


Having a Professional Express Anal Glands in Dogs

This is really recommended as an expert is less likely to hurt your dog and can do it quickly and efficiently. You can bring your dog to the vet to get the glands expressed when you notice a sign that they’re impacted. You can also bring him to a professional groomer. A groomer is a good choice because she likely sees your dog every few months and, thus, there’s less time that the glands are going unchecked.


Doing It Yourself

This is not recommended, but if you have no other option but to express the glands yourself, here are some simple instructions. The key is to be calm, prepared, and as quick as possible as this is not a pleasant experience for your dog.

  1. Locate the dog’s anal glands. They are at about five and seven o’clock on either side of his anal opening.
  2. Wearing latex gloves, apply firm but gentle pressure to the glands.
  3. Hold a warm cloth over the opening to prevent a squirt of the nasty fluid. Some fluid should be expelled from the opening.
  4. Do not repeat the process; simply wipe your dog with the washcloth and reward him.