The majority of people don’t worry about their dog’s anal glands until they have an issue. These glands are designed to offer lubrication when a dog passes a stool, as well as providing each dog with its own distinct aroma. Learn how these glands function, how to recognize when there is a problem, and how to treat it.
How Anal Glands Function
On either side of the rectal opening, every dog possesses two tiny glands. A little amount of a dark, noxious-smelling liquid fluid is held in each gland. When your dog urinates or defecates, a small amount of pressure is applied to these glands, which causes a small amount of fluid to be released along with your dog’s custom-blended aroma.
When your dog meets another dog, they might also reveal a bit of their individuality. Have you ever observed how when two dogs first meet, their tails lift in a high alert position? This motion puts pressure on the anal glands, causing the traditional butt sniffing that humans can’t seem to understand. This greeting, on the other hand, is as natural to dogs as shaking hands is to humans. Sniffing assists the dogs in learning to recognize one other’s scents.
Don’t be startled at this time by all the expressing that’s going on. Because a dog’s sense of smell is light years ahead of a human’s, the amount of liquid expressed is minimal, and you’ll probably never smell anything unless your dog has a problem.
Gland Problems and Nutrition
Many dogs do not appear to have issues with their anal glands. However, if the anal glands do not express correctly, bacteria might build up, which can lead to infection. If the infection is not treated, it can lead to an abscess, which can rupture through the skin and create more difficulties.
The quality of a dog’s pet food may be linked to several anal gland issues. Cereal fillers are frequently included in low-cost dog food, resulting in mushy stools. The soft stool is unable to exert sufficient pressure against the dog’s anal glands to allow them to express themselves, and here is where the problem begins. Higher-quality dog diets can help your pet create firmer, more compact stools, which will help the glands express more effectively, thus such foods may be a better alternative for your pet.
Signs and Symptoms of Anal Gland Impaction
Your dog’s anal glands may become impacted if they don’t express adequately, making them quite unpleasant. Keep an eye out for these signs and symptoms in both male and female dogs:
- Your dog begins scooting or dragging their butt across the floor in order to alleviate the pressure
- Your dog continuously licks or chews near their rectum
- Your dog’s stools have become soft
- Your dog strains to pass feces and appears uncomfortable
- You’ll likely notice a foul or “fishy” odor coming from your dog’s bottom half
- Your dog is leaking a brown fluid from their anus
If you notice one or more of these symptoms, it’s a good idea to take your dog to the vet for a check-up. It’s possible that the glands will need to be manually expressed, which is a job best left to the pros. At your request, certain professional dog groomers will also execute this process. Anal gland expression is performed on both male and female dogs on a regular basis because both sexes can have impacted glands.
The Odor from Anal Glands
An odor is one of the most common ways people discover their dog has impacted or swollen anal glands. If your dog smells like poop or smells like poop even after a bath, your dog’s anal glands are likely to be the source of the problem. The glands emit a material that has a pungent stench that is similar to that of excrement or fish.
How to Express Your Dog’s Anal Glands
Many dog lovers believe they can express their dog’s anal glands on their own. However, be aware that this will be a smelly and unpleasant task. Please note that this operation should only be performed on your own dog and never on another’s. It’s also worth noting that, other from looking for indications and symptoms, it’s difficult to know when to express a dog’s anal glands without seeing a veterinarian.
It’s also worth noting that expressing a dog’s anal glands when they aren’t necessary can cause more harm than good. Only if your dog is experiencing symptoms of congested or impacted anal glands, as described above, should you contemplate expressing anal glands yourself (unless your veterinarian or groomer advises otherwise). Many dogs go their entire lives without requiring manual expression, so don’t try to solve a problem that doesn’t exist.
If you still believe that anal gland expression is necessary, proceed with caution when executing the procedure on your own.
- Prepare a damp, warm washcloth.
- To avoid getting any liquid on your hands, put on a pair of disposable gloves.
- Raise your dog’s tail and feel for two lumps at around five and seven o’clock on either side of the anal orifice with your other hand.
- Begin exerting strong but mild pressure to the sacs while holding the towel over the anal hole to prevent an unpleasant squirt. The fluid must be released through the rectal orifice to empty the glands, thus this mild squeezing is required. After that, all you have to do is clean your dog’s behind.
The fluid from the anal glands should be yellowish to tan in color and not hazy or milky. Anal gland fluid that has been impacted can have a greyish tint. If you find blood or pus in your dog’s anal gland secretions, or if the fluid isn’t watery in consistency, it’s probably an infection, and you should schedule an appointment with your veterinarian.
Risks of Expressing the Anal Gland Yourself
It can be less stressful for your dog to not have to go to a veterinarian clinic or groomer if you’re familiar with expressing a dog’s anal glands and comfortable doing it on your own. It is also evident that doing it at home is less expensive.
Doing it yourself, on the other hand, has its drawbacks. Bruising might occur if the glands are not expressed appropriately.
Additional illnesses and infections in your dog may exist that you are unaware of, and only a competent veterinary practitioner will be able to appropriately identify them. It can also harm your dog and bring them needless discomfort or issues if you do it too often.
Fearful Dogs May Accidentally Express the Glands
Fearful dogs can unintentionally express their anal glands as part of their panic response. Because a terrified animal’s muscles can contract firmly and quickly, this contraction can cause the glands to squeeze and secrete fluid.
This frequently occurs during a spray, and the term “shooting the glands” is commonly used among pet care experts to describe it. Because this is the outcome of a frightening response rather than a medical problem, a dog that accomplishes this does not require frequent anal gland expression.
Only Express if Necessary
While it’s normal to question how often you should express your dog’s anal glands, keep in mind that there isn’t a set schedule to follow. Under normal conditions, the anal glands can function totally independently of human interference. Unless your dog has developed a problem, it is preferable to prevent routine gland expression and let your dog’s body to work as it was intended. Some dogs will never require this treatment, while others will require it on a regular basis.