Hello dear friends, In this post on Solsarin we’re mentioning “dog glands that need to be drained”. Stay with us to the end. Thanks for being with us.
How to Tell If Your Dog Needs His Anal Glands Expressed
You’ve been noticing some unusual behaviors in your dog lately…
Your dog is scooting on the carpet.
He (or she) is also licking his bottom a lot more than usual.
It’s possible your dog may need to have his anal glands expressed (aka, emptied)
Our Castle Rock veterinarians have put this article together to help you tell if your dog needs his anal glands expressed.
Keep in mind, if you’re noticing either of the behaviors described above, it’s important to visit a veterinarian.
There are other issues that can cause these symptoms. It’s important to rule them out!
What exactly are anal glands?
Anal glands — or more accurately, anal sacs — are scent glands located on both sides of your dog’s rectum.
Typically, they’re in the four o’clock and eight o’clock positions.
When your dog passes a stool, these glands usually express themselves naturally.
They put your dog’s scent in his stool.
Unfortunately, some dogs don’t express their glands when they defecate
The material builds up in these sacs.
The increased pressure causes your dog to want to lick his bottom and/or scoot across the carpet.
How can you tell if your dog needs his anal glands expressed?
Be on the lookout for the following signs:
- Your dog is scooting on the carpet.
- Your dog is licking his bottom a lot.
- If your dog’s glands are really full, they may leak out a stinky, pungent smell.
- Sometimes you’ll see spots of brownish material in places where your dog has been sitting, such as on your carpet, your furniture or your lap.
Eventually, the glands will rupture. You’ll see some bleeding from that area.
Why does this happen?
There are different theories. It could be because:
- The glands aren’t located where they’re supposed to be.
- Your dog’s stools aren’t firm enough. (For example, we sometimes see it in a dog after a bout of diarrhea or in a dog that hasn’t been getting enough fiber.)
- Your dog is overweight.
It can be one-time, never-again event.
Or, it can be a chronic issue.
It depends on your dog.
Are certain dogs more prone to needing their glands expressed than others?
Usually, our Castle Rock veterinarians see it in smaller breed dogs.
With that said, it’s possible for any breed to have an issue.
Sometimes, dogs that have inflammation issues — like dogs with food allergies — are more prone to anal gland infections.
Occasionally, cats have issues too.
You may notice your cat isn’t defecting as much, is vomiting and/or isn’t eating as much.
Where do you get anal gland expression done?
Our veterinarians or your groomer can express the glands.
Some of our clients have learned to do it themselves.
Initially, it’s a good idea to visit our veterinarians to:
- Make sure the anal glands aren’t infected
- Make sure that’s the source of your dog’s issue
If the glands are infected or they’ve ruptured, your dog will need some medical attention.
How often do people express their dog’s anal glands?
It truly varies by dog.
Some dogs never have an issue. Their anal glands express themselves naturally.
Some dogs get their anal glands manually expressed a couple times a year.
Some pet parents bring their dogs in every month (or more often), if their dogs have been having recurring issues.
The key thing is to monitor your dog for the symptoms.
See if there’s a pattern for your dog.
Is there a way to prevent this issue?
There aren’t widely-accepted preventive measures.
It’s always good practice to make sure your dog is a healthy weight and is eating a diet with enough fiber to firm up stools.
But these steps don’t always affect anal gland expression.
Our veterinarians are sometimes asked, can we remove the anal glands?
It’s possible to do so, but there can be side effects, such as:
- Fecal incontinence
- The fluid ducts getting blocked
So typically, this isn’t something we recommend.
Dr. Chris: Yes, all dogs have anal glands. They are actually anal “sacs” but most people call them glands, so we will use that terminology. They are two small pouches that collect glandular secretions within the sphincter muscles of the anus. Their normal function is not entirely clear; it has been proposed that the anal gland secretions help to lubricate the stool, but that is only a theory.
It is also believed that pheromones are released which allows the dog to mark their territory with their unique “signature.”
BBark: Sometimes my dog releases a “fishy” smell from her hind end, is that coming from her anal glands?
Dr. Chris: Yes, most likely. Anal gland secretion is often described as fishy smelling.
Alternate descriptions include: foul, disgusting, nauseating, and horrific. Dogs normally express (empty) a small amount of anal gland secretion when they defecate. Some dogs will also express their anal glands when they are nervous or excited. Some dogs have a problem expressing their anal glands normally and need to have them expressed for them.
BBark: What are signs of anal gland problems?
Dr. Chris: Problems with the anal glands generally involve an inability of a dog to properly express them on her own. Scooting (when a dog puts her weight on her forelimbs and drags her butt across the ground) can be a sign of anal gland sacculitis, an inflammation. Constant licking or attention to the hind end is also a sign of an anal gland problem.
BBark: Are certain dogs prone to anal gland problems?
Dr. Chris: Small dogs and toy breeds tend to have more problems with their anal glands.
Dogs with allergies have more issues probably due to chronic inflammation and irritation, as do dogs with persistently soft stool.
BBark: Who should express a dog’s anal glands. Can I do it myself?
Dr. Chris: Many well-meaning groomers express dogs’ anal glands at every appointment, although I do not believe this should be done unless routine expression is recommended by a veterinarian. Expressing the anal glands when there is not a problem can potentially lead to inflammation and anal gland sacculitis in an otherwise healthy dog.
In other words, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.
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If your dog does need to have their anal glands expressed, veterinarians and most groomers offer this service. Some brave owners learn to express their dogs’ anal glands themselves. This is fine but it is always best to do this on the advice of your vet, as there could be something more serious going on. They can also show you the proper way to do this unpleasant task.
BBark: What are some other problems dogs can have with their anal glands?
Dr. Chris: By far the most common anal gland issue is anal gland sacculutis, or inflammation of the glands. Sacculitis can lead to impacted or infected anal glands. These often result in an anal gland abscess. These abscesses can rupture and require antibiotics and more extensive long term treatment. Dogs can also develop a form of cancer known as anal gland adenocarcinoma. It is important to have your veterinarian check your dog’s anal glands to rule out any of these more serious problems.
BBark: If my dog seems like he always needs his glands expressed is there anything preventative that can be done?
Dr. Chris: It has been suggested that increasing the amount of fiber in the diet can be helpful in reducing the frequency of anal gland sacculitis. This is recommended and it doesn’t tend to do any harm, but in reality there is no known “cure”. At times this seems to help, but some dogs do not show improvement even with dietary modification.
BBark: Wow, that’s a lot of information. What is the take home message?
Dr. Chris: If your dog is not scooting or excessively attending to his hind end, then there is probably nothing to worry about. At your next veterinarian appointment, you can ask them to take a look at your dog’s anal glands to ensure everything looks normal.
If you do notice signs that your dog could have an anal gland problem, see a veterinarian first, before having the groomer express them or trying to do it yourself. This way your vet can rule out more serious medical issues and advise you on the best way to proceed.