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How to Express a Dog's Anal Gland

By Edited Feb 20, 2016 1 0

Despite the inherent unpleasant nature of expressing a dog's anal gland, every dog owner must know the role that this critical procedure plays in the grooming process. While some may argue that dogs don't experience pain to a similar extent that humans do, an owner's inability or unwillingness to perform this procedure may result in clear signs of pain and suffering in a dog's face and may actually resort in even greater veterinarian care requirements. When excess fluid accumulates in a dog's anal glands, these glands can become so impacted (or even worse, infected) that a physical manifestation of your dog's pain may be seen in their excessive tearing to incredible restlessness and agitation from the increasing discomfort. There is no doubt that allowing your dog's anal glands to persistently build up with fluid, without occasionally expressing them, can have severe painful ramifications for them.

While management of your dog's pain is certainly an issue of consideration, because of the more intense veterinary care that will be required should an infection occur, it also makes sound financial sense to address these issues long before your dog's medical bill goes through the roof. Otherwise accepted a generally messy procedure, following the steps in this Info Barrel article will provide you with some preventative strategies, as well as, a commonsense approach that will hopefully minimize unpleasant mess and odor.

Things You Will Need

  • More Fiber in Diet
  • Your Dog
  • Bath Soap and Shampoo
  • a Tissue and/or washcloth

Step 1

Whether human or animal, our bodies naturally produce stool as a waste product of our digestive systems. As vitamins and nutrients are extracted from the food we eat, and are put to good use by our bodies, the remaining product has no other choice but to be excreted in some manner. While this topic is one that many shy away from, your dog's need to have their anal glands expressed can actually be conquered long before this procedure is even needed. Just like in humans, increased fiber consumption can cause even greater solid formation of your dog's stool. When this occurs, the elimination process of harder, more compact, stool can inherently cause your dog's anal glands to excrete themselves. Long before you have to actually manually express your dog's anal glands yourself, you can provide even greater fiber into your dog's diet and this, in itself, may very possibly remedy your dog's anal gland fluid accumulation and discomfort.

Many humans have integrated Flax Seed into their diet, and so also can you do this for your dog. Flax seed is a very cheap substance that can be easily added to your dog's meals. While it will provide little additional taste to the food, it will, in fact, help to result in even firmer stool for your dog. If you are a reader of this Info Barrel article, and have had good experiences using any particular products for your dog, it would be an absolute honor to have you share those products and experiences with us in the comments' section below this article!

In order to comment on this Info Barrel article, you 'may' have to create an account and join Info Barrel.

Step 2

Great flexibility can be had in the positioning of your dog for this procedure. You may choose that it is most convenient for you to either kneel down beside your dog, allow him/her to stand on all fours on a table that is above your waist line (for easy, convenient, access to their anal region), or you may even decide to perform this procedure after drawing them a bath. With soap and shampoo used, a bath can be a great way to easily mask any unpleasant mess and odor that will be inherently associated with this procedure. Because of the ease of transitioning to other dog grooming tasks, many dog owners find it the most convenient to conduct this procedure while bathing their dog.

Step 3

If your dog's anal region is viewed like a clock, your dog's anal glands will be located at approximately the 5 o' clock and 7 o' clock positions respectively. Again, the location of these anal glands may vary slightly dependent on a variety of factors, such as the breed of dog. These glands, or sacs, will be underneath your dog's skin and they may or may not be difficult to see. Even if you cannot see these glands, they may still be causing painful discomfort to your dog and they may need to be expressed accordingly.

Step 4

When performing the procedure of expressing your dog's anal glands, your goal will be to squeeze out any excess accumulated fluid in much the same way that you would squeeze puss from a pimple on your face. While it may be difficult to feel these glands in some breeds of dogs, the resultant accumulation of fluid oftentimes causes them to swell up much larger than their original kidney bean sized configuration. With your forefinger (your pointer finger) and your thumb, you will delicately feel for your dog's anal glands. Once again, impaction or infection may cause them to swell up much larger than normal.

Step 5

With a fluid forward and upward motion, you will gently pinch your dog's anal glands simultaneously with both your forefinger and thumb. Oftentimes, however fluid release may be met with a degree of resistance while you are attempting to express it from the anal sacs. Delicate and meticulous care should be continually taken to only exert as much force in your squeezing action as necessary. If the fluid accumulated resists release, you will gradually increase the pressure of your squeeze so as to not overwhelm (or cause significant pain or discomfort to) your dog.

Ultimately, the goal in this step of this Info Barrel article is to get both your forefinger and thumb positioned behind your dog's anal sacs. When squeezed, the fluid will rise to the surface and express itself.

Step 6

With the expression of body fluids from your pet dog, it is important that you take the necessary precautions to ensure that these fluids don't get everywhere. Whether a veterinarian is performing this procedure in their office, or you are doing it in your kitchen or bathtub, a mess can be avoided simply by using a warm washcloth or tissue in conjunction with this procedure. With either washcloth or tissue placed in the crescent moon shape of your thumb and forefinger, you can now proceed to squeeze your dog's anal glands with either proactively covering the anus and the potential projectile fluid that may occur. Much like expressing a pimple will cause puss to fly across the room, so also should you be cautious of this possible occurrence. Because of the potential resultant mess, it is highly recommended that you use either a warm washcloth or a tissue while conducting this procedure.

Step 7

As you express the fluid from your dog's anal glands, it is important that you observe for several things to include: color, consistency, and odor. While it would be expected for a pungent odor to exist (hence, why it is recommended to perform this procedure while bathing your dog), normal fluid expression would be a light to dark brown color with a fluid consistency. If the consistency of the fluid expressed is firm, you will want to visit your veterinarian in anticipation of a possible impaction or an infection. Pus and blood, if found in the expressed fluid, may also be a sign of impaction or an infection.

Step 8

Once you have safely disposed of the tissue or washcloth that you used to perform this procedure, you will now want to thoroughly wash your dog's anal region. Because of their natural tendency to sit just about anywhere, residual fluid may easily get all over your carpet or furniture if you do not proceed to thoroughly wash him or her. Washing will also help to remove the associated odor that could also firmly embed itself into particular areas of your home.

Whenever a procedure deals with the anal region of an animal, it is not uncommon for dog owners to naturally shy away from performing this procedure themselves. Whether they are unable, or unwilling, to do this procedure, the appropriate accommodations should be made for this procedure to be conducted. Your dog's pain and discomfort may become so overwhelming that, if you cannot do this procedure yourself, it is strongly recommended that you seek out a trained veterinarian. Choosing a veterinarian, of course, will incur you a financial bill which can easily be evaded just by simply conducting this procedure yourself.

Tips & Warnings

If excess fluid is allowed to continually accumulate in your dog's anal gland sacs, infection will eventually occur. While the progression to infection may vary in each dog, significant discomfort will occur leading up to the infection. As a dog owner, it is important that you be attuned to and cognizant of any facial grimacing or restlessness and agitation that may indicate that your dog is experiencing pain or discomfort. Even though the procedure of expressing a dog's anal glands may be inherently uncomfortable for your dog, it is actually a necessary preventative "evil" in order to ensure that your dog's physical state doesn't deteriorate to the point where they will be in persistent pain and their veterinarian bills become very high.

Dependent upon the breed of dog, as well as many other factors, your dog's manual anal gland expression needs may vary significantly. While one dog may need their anal glands to be expressed almost daily, other dogs may go their entire lives without needing this procedure to be performed. As mentioned earlier in this Info Barrel article, a high fiber diet and its ability to produce even greater formed stool, can be one such preventative method that can actually express your dog's anal glands without any actual involvement by you.

It is absolutely important that you know what "normal" looks like for your dog when making the determination of whether or not to manually express their anal glands. For certain breeds of dogs, large anal glands may be commonplace and may not indicate an impaction or infection. A caring and conscientious dog owner will be vigilant in continually assessing their dog, and addressing issues that they observe as being out of normal for their particular dog.

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