How Do You Know if Your Dog Needs Glands Expressed?

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How Do You Know if Your Dog Needs Glands Expressed

It’s definitely not the most pleasant topic about dogs that pet owners like to discuss. Some dogs experience problems with their bottoms, which, if not treated, could lead to even bigger problems.

This article will explain what anal gland expression problems are in dogs, and how to treat them.

What is Anal Gland Expression in Dogs?

Anal glands are fluid sacs located on both sides of a dog’s rectum. When a dog urinates, defecates, or feels very excited, these glands emit a fluid.

It is this fluid that gives each dog his or her unique “scent.” It’s also the reason dogs sniff each other’s bottoms when they meet.

Expression of these glands simply means that the fluids are released in a normal and natural fashion. In some cases, the glands can be “impacted.” Meaning the fluids are not released regularly, leading to buildup. This causes health issues in dogs.

Tell-Tale Signs that Your Dog Needs Its Glands Expressed

There are some strong indications that a dog needs its glands expressed. Here are some of the biggest signs:

  • The dog scoots its bottom on the ground. As amusing as this may seem, it’s a major indicator that your dog needs its glands expressed.
  • The dog excessively licks its bottom, and in some cases may even bite it.
  • Your dog’s bottom smells like rotten fish.
  • The area looks red and swollen.
  • Fluid from anal glands may leak. Full anal glands involuntarily release a pungent liquid.
  • Brownish spots left behind when your dog was seated.

When anal glands are not expressed, they rupture. Here are several signs that your dog’s glands are severely impacted:

  • The dog is bleeding from its backside
  • Pus leaking from this area

Any of the above signs should be a cause for concern. If you suspect that your dog’s glands are impacted, go to a veterinarian for a confirmation.

What Happens When Gland Expression Issues are Ignored

Impacted anal glands cannot release fluid as it should. Eventually, the fluids build up. This may lead to glands getting infected, and ultimately rupturing.

When a dog’s anal glands are severely impacted, it can lead to anal sac disease. Infected anal sacs characterize the disease.

Infected anal glands could develop into an abscess. It’s a painful, pus-filled lump that can break open under pressure. Abscesses have to be surgically opened and drained to heal properly.

Dogs with anal gland impaction issues may act aggressively because of the pain when the condition is severe. They may also have trouble pooping.

Caring dog owners should take immediate steps to treat their dog if any of these signs are present. Therefore, if you suspect your dog’s glands are not expressed, consult a vet without delay.

What Causes Clogged Glands in Dogs

Anal gland expression issues in dogs can be either chronic or a one-time event. The causes can vary as a result.

Here are some of the most common reasons for impacted glands in dogs:

  • Physiological anomalies. The dog’s glands may not be properly located due to a genetic or birth defect.
  • Soft stools. Gland impaction is seen in dogs after recovering from diarrhea.
  • Lack of fibre in a dog’s diet that loosens stool firmness.
  • Obesity.

A qualified veterinarian can determine what exactly causes anal gland expression issues in your dog.

How to Treat Impacted Glands

A dog’s anal glands can be expressed manually. You can do this at home, if not at the vet’s.

Here are the basic steps for expressing anal glands in an impacted dog:

Step 1: Preparation

Have these items ready:

  • Latex gloves
  • A warm washcloth
  • Paper towels
  • A safe lubricant like petroleum jelly

You would need a table or an area to place your dog.

Step 2: Restrain the Dog

To start, place the dog on a table on all fours. Restrain the dog gently with the help of another person.

Be careful when restraining the dog. Don’t cause unnecessary pain. You can restrain the pet easily by placing one arm underneath its neck and use the other arm to hug its body.

You can place a small dog in front of you on a table. You may have to kneel behind a larger dog.

Step 3: Locate the Anal Glands

This step can be uncomfortable for both the owner and the pet. Do the following to locate the anal glands first:

  • Put on the gloves and lubricate your index finger.
  • Lift up your dog’s tail. Insert the lubricated finger into the dog’s rectum by about an inch.
  • Run your fingers around the anus to locate the glands. The dog has two.
  • You can typically find one gland at the 4 or 5 o’clock position. The second one should be at the 7 or 8 o’clock position.
  • When located, the gland would feel like a firm pea or a plum. It would be globular shaped in any case.

Step 4: Express the Glands

Once you have located the glands, you can express them. This amounts to gently squeezing the glands outward.

Before you start squeezing, grab the paper towels. Place them in front of the glands.

When you gently squeeze the glands, they would release a nasty liquid. Use the paper towels to prevent squirting.

Make sure to only put gentle amounts of pressure on the glands. It should be done outwards, towards you.

Keep expressing the gland until you can barely feel it. Repeat with the second gland.

Step 5: Finish Up

The worst is over now. The liquid from the glands should be expelled.

Use the warm washcloth to wipe your dog’s bottom.

Finally, clean up the area to get rid of the liquid and the smell.

Expressing a dog’s anal glands is not for the faint of the heart. It’s recommended to take your dog to a vet if you are not sure what to do.

Important: What the Fluid Should Look Like

Normally, anal gland fluid looks brown. It has a thin consistency.

You should be worried if you notice any of the following:

  • Thick consistency
  • Fluid looks yellow, green, or grey.

The above signs indicate abnormal anal gland fluid. You should take your dog to the vet if this is the case.

Preventing Anal Gland Expression Issues

Certain lifestyle and dietary choices could cause anal gland impaction in some dogs. Here is how you can prevent it:

Don’t forget to have your dog’s glands checked out by a vet during routine checkups. A vet will immediately tell you if there are any issues.