Before Draining Anal Glands
The anal glands, or glands, empty a tiny amount of fluid each time a dog defecates. Sometimes, the glands don’t empty properly which causes them to fill up with fluid and creates extreme discomfort for the dog. If left un-drained, the glands can become infected or impacted, creating a potentially serious medical concern.
Firm, large stools trigger the release of fluid. Soft, small stools will not activate the glands, causing fluid to fill up. Dogs struggling with their anal glands will exhibit several behaviors that let their owners know they are in need of help. Those behaviors include:
- Scooting on carpet
- Licking the anus
- Red skin around the anus
- Anal leakage that occurs at random times
- Bleeding from the anus – this condition requires an immediate call to the veterinarian
Scooting is the most common sign that a dog’s anal glands need to be drained. Pet owners shouldn’t consider this behavior funny or cute, instead, they should recognize it as a signal that something is going wrong in his rear end.
Draining the Anal Glands
Draining the anal glands, often referred to as expressing the glands, is not for the faint of heart. The procedure is messy, and the fluid has a very strong odor. Many dogs don’t enjoy having their anal glands drained, and put up a bit of a fight. For that reason, many owners elect to have their vet do the draining.
However, experienced dog owners know that an occasional draining comes with the territory of dog ownership. Here are the steps to take to express your dog’s anal glands at home:
- Before you begin, be sure to put on old clothes and rubber gloves. If you have a sensitive nose, plugs may be in order.
- Enlist the help of a family member or friend to hold the pet if your dog appears to be in pain or squirms when you put your hand near the rear end.
- Fold up several paper towels to create an absorbent pad in which to catch the liquid.
- Lift the dog’s tail. The anal glands are located at the 4:00 and 8:00 position, if you use the anus as the center of the clock face. If they are full, you will be able to feel a bulge.
- With your fingers over the glands and the paper towel in place just below the anus, squeeze the glands gently towards each other, encouraging fluid release. Vets recommend using no more pressure than you would use when spraying an aerosol can.
- Repeat until the glands are empty.
- Wash the dog’s rear and throw away the paper towels and gloves. Many owners express the anal gland during a scheduled bath to ensure a clean dog.
This procedure should only be necessary a few times per year. If you find your dog’s anal glands are filling more frequently, contact the veterinarian for a checkup to ensure there is not an underlying medical issue at fault.
Preventing Fluid Buildup in the Anal Glands
Bulking up your dog’s stool can help ensure the proper release of fluid from the glands. Consider adding fiber to the dog’s diet to increase the size and firmness. Anal glands can also malfunction if the dog is overweight, so extra exercise can also be useful in promoting proper function.
In some cases, the anal glands may need to be removed. There are complications associated with this procedure, including incontinence, so be sure to discuss all options at length with your veterinarian before taking this extreme measure.