When a dog's anus is viewed in a clock like fashion, you will find his/her anal glands located at approximately the 4:00 o' clock and 8:00 o' clock positions respectively. Even though some veterinarians will dispute the exact location of these glands, their location isn't quite as pertinent as a pet owner's willingness and ability to actually perform the procedure of manually expressing their dog's anal glands. While this procedure is certainly not a glamorous one, oftentimes it just simply must be done in order to help free your dog's excessive fluid accumulation build-up that can lead to the experience of great discomfort or pain through an infection or an impaction.
Unfortunately, with hundreds of thousands of views, there are several articles and YouTube videos currently online right now that teach dog owners how to conduct this procedure in the incorrect manner. Whether they detail unsafe information, or they simply miss a step or two, this Info Barrel article has been written in an attempt to counteract this misinformation.
Things You Will Need
- High Fiber Supplemental Additives, like Oat Bran or Flax Seed
- Gloves (like used in a hospital)
- a Table or Bench
- a Sheet or Towel
- a Tissue or Damp Warm Washcloth
Step 1In this first step, it is absolutely necessary that you understand why your dog's anal glands may need to be manually expressed, as well as, the signs and symptoms associated with this heightening pain and discomfort. While not all dog's will require frequent manual anal gland expression, other dogs, for a variety of potential reasons, may have great difficulty naturally expressing this excess accumulated fluid on their own. Ideally, a high fiber diet will oftentimes be sufficient enough to cause bulk hardening and forming of the stool that can help to naturally express the fluid from your dog's anal glands as solid fecal matter is pushed out through defecation.
Even though it is highly recommended that you become so familiar with what exactly 'normal' looks like for your dog, oftentimes dog owners wont catch on to simple signs and symptoms of escalating pain and discomfort as they relate to prolonged inability or unwillingness to perform the procedure of manual anal gland expression. When a dog is experiencing this pain and discomfort, it is not uncommon for them to do whatever they can to remove this excess fluid accumulation. You may witness them dragging their rear end along your floor or carpet in an attempt to relieve the fluid. Your dog may also become very fidgety or agitated, with jerky movements, which can serve as a visual manifestation of their heightening pain and discomfort. Eye tearing may also be present, but in different quantities dependent upon the dog, its tolerance of pain, and the extent of pain experienced. As a dog owner, it will be very difficult to appropriately address these issues if you do not have a fundamental understanding of what 'normal' looks like in your own dog.
Step 2Frequent bouts of liquid, diarrhea-like, stool can be extremely ineffective at naturally expressing your dog's anal glands when it is pushed out during defecation. As mentioned above, a great preventative approach to addressing excess fluid accumulation, infection, and impaction, will be to simply increase your dog's dietary intake of fiber. Where even many human's fail to consume an adequate intake of fiber, the entire need for this procedure to be conducted in the first place can be removed simply by ensuring that your dog consistently consumes more fiber.
Cheap fiber supplemental additives, like oat bran and/or flax seed, can easily be purchased at your nearby health food store and can be added to your dog's current food. Just by simply purchasing these cheap products, and using them daily, you can help to ensure that your dog has more firm stool waste that will cause the anal glands to be naturally expressed during defecation.
Step 3A very popular YouTube video, with in excess of 200,000+ views currently, demonstrates this procedure being conducted by a veterinarian without the use of gloves. While manually expressing your dog's anal glands can certainly be done in this manner, it is important to realize that this can be a very messy procedure. As a male nurse by trade, rarely are procedures done without the added protective barrier that gloves will provide. Whether an enema is performed, or a bed bath is given, you will find that the similar messiness experienced with humans will also be experienced with your dog. Tissues or washcloths, when doing this procedure, should be used in conjunction with the wearing of gloves rather than alone.
A box of gloves can easily be purchased at a store like Wal-mart, Target, Walgreen's, or CVS.
Step 4On some occasions, manual expression of your dog's anal glands from the outside of the anal opening will be very difficult. Before performing this procedure, you must be aware of the possibility of having to delve further into your dog's anal cavity. In preparation for this potential occurrence, you should be armed with personal lubrication that can be used if needed. Simple non-aromatic lubrication like KY-Jelly, or specialized animal lubrication that can be purchased at pet stores, will help to aid in the ease of finger insertion into the anal cavity if that becomes necessary.
Step 5In preparation for this procedure, positioning of your dog really comes down to a matter of personal convenience. While some owners may choose to kneel down next to their dogs, you may instead decide to place your dog on all fours, on top of a table or bench. Just by simply elevating your dog's body, you can immediately remove the need for excessive bending or straining of your back. When you dog is positioned above your waist, on a table, you will have easy access to their anal region, as well. While some owners may neglect to cover the area where their dog will be standing, it is recommended that, because of the inherent potential messiness of this procedure, that you place your dog on top of a towel or sheet.
Step 6With your non-dominant hand you will want to secure your dog's tail and lift it up out of the way of his/her anal region. Your dog may be very calm and at ease, or it may be restless and anxious to the point of vigorously waving its tail from side to side. It is important that you secure your dog's tail with one hand in order to help aid in maximum exposure of the anal cavity.
Step 7While wearing gloves, with your thumb and forefinger, you should place either a tissue or a damp warm washcloth in the crescent shape that is naturally formed between your thumb and forefinger. As you approach your dog's anal region with your thumb and forefinger extended, you may find that your dog's anal glands are difficult to see or visualize. By virtue of your dog's breed, and a variety of other factors, that may be the case. If you cannot see your dog's anal sacs, just remember that they can typically be found at approximately the 4:00 and 8:00 positions, on either side of the anal opening.
Step 8When performing this procedure, your fingers should be positioned at the back part of each sac. Similar to squeezing puss from a facial pimple, the greater rear surface area of each sac that you manage to grasp, the more fluid that you can effectively express and force to the surface. With a fluid forward and upward motion, the pressure applied should be done in relation to both the effectiveness of the procedure, as well as, your dog's reaction to it. If you are initially unable to express fluid, it may be necessary to apply even greater pressure. With the application of pressure, however, you will also be inherently increasing your dog's potential for pain or discomfort as a result of the procedure. It is highly recommended that you proceed with caution, and take appropriate cues from your dog.
Step 9Once your dog's anal sac fluid has been expressed, you should observe for the consistency, color and smell of the product. While a foul odor is to be expected, the presence of blood or pus may indicate an infection or an impaction. Normally, your dog's expressed fluid should be yellowish-brown to light brown or dark brown. Any deviations from the norm may require prompt veterinarian assessment.
Tips & Warnings
For those dog owners who have difficulty tolerating the 'less-than-glamorous' nature of this procedure, you can certainly have your veterinarian perform it for you. With millions each year spent on pet care, you will incur a bill if you do choose to have your veterinarian manually express your dog's anal glands. Ultimately, it does make sound financial sense to simply perform this procedure yourself.
If asked, a veterinarian may be willing to demonstrate and walk you through performing this procedure on your own.
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