how to express your dogs anal glands

Should you drain your dog’s glands? There seems to be a split on this; some say yes the dog needs to have the glands drained manually and some say no. But do you know how to express your dog’s anal glands?

In the case of doubt, always consult your veterinarian.

But let us take it from the beginning!

What exactly do the anal glands do?

What are the anal glands or sacs and what do they do?

The glands or sacs are located under the skin on either side of and below the anus.

These tubes that lead to the sacs release a very pungent odor every time the dog has a bowel movement.

Anal glands are basically scent glands that give each dog its own unique smell that allows the dog to mark its territory.

Your pet’s digestion and elimination regulate and release toxins from the body and that is why these glands are a very important part of your pet’s digestive and elimination system.

When your dog passes a stool, the anal glands release the unique scent of the dog due to the pressure put on the glans by the passing stool.

That unique smell of each individual dog is why they smell each other’s behind.

It also tells them if the other dog is healthy or sick.

What are the signs that your dog needs his anal glands drained?

How can you tell if your dog needs the anal glands drained?

Some of the signs of needing glands drained are;

  • Your dog is scooting his or her butt on the ground or floor.
  • The dog will be biting or licking around the anus or above the tail constantly.
  • You notice a bad smell emanating from your dog.
  • Constipation issues are obvious when the dog has bowel movements.
  • Other signs of discomfort or infection such as a discharge from the anal area

You should schedule an appointment with your vet as soon as you see any of the signs before the dog’s anal glands become infected.

An infection can cause other serious issues in the intestines and other areas so do not wait too long to take the dog to the vet.

pit bull on grass

What are the causes?

What are the causes that the glands will need manual expressing?

There are a few causes;

  • The buildup of bacteria can cause the glands not to work properly and need manual expressing. It can also lead to abscesses that could cause the skin to tear.
  • Diet that does not provide for a healthy bowel movement which includes, loose runny stools or constipation can be a cause.
  • Obesity from overfeeding and lack of exercise can lead to glands that do not express themselves properly.
  • A level of toxins that build up in the system or a liver imbalance will also cause issues with the glands.
  • Muscle or lumbar-sacral injury can lead to the dog having issues with proper gland expression.

When you see your dog having signs of gland issues it is important that you take your pet to the vet for a diagnosis and treatment.

Which breed of dog is more prone to needing anal gland draining?

Generally, larger dogs do not have anal gland issues.

It seems smaller dogs have more issues with anal sacs draining properly as well as certain breeds such as;

  • Basset hounds
  • Beagles
  • Cocker spaniels
  • Chihuahuas
  • Miniature and toy poodles
  • Lhasa Apso

While larger dogs do not seem to have issues of the anal sacs not draining properly, do not ignore the issue or overlook it as a reason for the dog having discomfort in the lower stomach or anal area.

How to drain anal glands

In order to drain your dog’s anal glands at home you will need the following supplies;

  • Disposable latex gloves
  • Vaseline or another lubricant
  • Paper towels
  • A tub of warm soapy water

If not done properly draining the dog’s anal sacs can cause problems. You need to be sure you know how to do it; ask your vet to show you how to do it properly.

You can always take the dog to the vet for anal gland draining, however, that could be rather expensive. You can also find a well-trained groomer who can do it for you.

dog belly happy

The 6 steps to draining the anal sacs

When draining the anal glands at home you will need someone to help you hold the dog.

  1. Place the dog on a work table so that you do not have to bend over in order to drain the glands.
  2. Your helper will need to place one arm around the chest with that hand up around the back of the neck; the other arm is to be under the belly to keep the dog still and standing up.
  3. You put on the latex glove and generally add the lube to the index finger of the gloved hand. This is the finger that will express the gland so wrap a paper towel around that finger to catch any drainage.
  4. When you insert your finger in the anus you should be looking for the glands about an inch inside the anus. The gland will feel soft and spongy.
  5. Now that you have located the gland with the index finger, gently squeeze it between the index finger inside and the thumb on the outside. Doing this will drain the gland. If you do not feel it draining, move your finger around slightly as your finger could be plugging it from draining. After draining that sac, move to the other gland.
  6. The amount of time in between draining of the sacs will depend on your dog; the general period is 6 to 8 weeks.

Are there steps you can take to help your dog?

If you wish to help your dog drain the anal glands naturally, feed them plenty of good fiber.

The diet you feed your dog will determine if the bowel movements are healthy and firm without constipation or if they are loose and runny.

Proper diet will not only help with bowel movements but adding exercise will help keep your dog at a healthy weight.

A healthy weight can also help keep the glands draining properly without manual expressing.

The side that says “do not” drain the glands unless they absolutely need it

While some say you should not drain the glands the reasons they give are;

  • You can cause trauma for over draining.
  • Inflammation of the GI tract or organs needs addressing by a vet instead of draining the glands as it could cause infection or other health risks. The vet can help determine just what is causing the inflammation and get to the underlying issue.
  • Your pet’s glands could be in the wrong place.

It is always best to have someone like your vet to teach you how to drain the anal sacs properly or hire a groomer who has training.

In Conclusion

While draining the anal glands of your pet is not pleasant there are times it needs to be done.

You will have to decide for yourself if you will do it or hire a professional to do it for you.

Depending on the breed of your dog you may never need to drain the anal sacs but there are certain breeds that require it done manually.

Performing gland draining properly is extremely important in order to keep from causing harm or future complications for the health of the dog.

I know.. I know.. Someone has to do the dirty work too! Be prepared to get dirty: