All dogs have two anal glands, one on either side of the rectum, which are commonly referred to as the anal sacs. These are scent glands, and are the main reason why dogs, when greeting each other, will circle each other sniffing their butts, as the scent signature of each dog’s anal glands are unique, and tell the other dog a lot about them. The scent glands themselves contain a particularly foul-smelling liquid, which is naturally released by the dog when they have a bowel movement, and generally, this process happens just fine and the anal glands take care of themselves.
However, some dogs are apt to suffer from impaction of the anal glands, where the glands do not empty properly when the dog has a bowel movement, leading to them becoming clogged up and impacted with the harboured discharge. This leads to soreness, irritation and itching, which are all unpleasant and annoying for your dog.
Expressing the anal glands, or manually stimulating them to release their load and relieve an impaction is a fairly simple procedure, and one that all vets, veterinary nurses and dog groomers are adept at carrying out. However, you can also express your dog’s anal glands at home if you know what your are doing, saving yourself the cost of paying a professional to do it for you. Expressing the anal glands is not for the faint-hearted though, and the smell alone is often enough to turn people with weak stomachs rather sick!
If you think that you are up to the challenge, read on to learn about how to express impacted anal glands at home.
If your dog is prone to developing regular impactions, you will usually already know about this, and will likely have to have had the procedure carried out before. Symptoms to be on the lookout for include scooting along the floor, obsessively licking the area around the glands, and generally showing irritation or discomfort around the back end.
Decide where you want to perform the procedure; outside or in a bathtub or sink that can easily be cleaned up and sterilised afterwards is your best bet. Make sure that you have old towels, Vaseline or another lubricant, adequate means of restraint for your dog and a muzzle if required, as expressing the anal glands can cause discomfort that may potentially cause your dog to snap.
Finally, you will also need a pair of disposable gloves, as the secretions from the anal glands are oily, smelly, and tend to stick around on your hands even after washing.
Make sure that your dog is firmly secured to both keep them still and stop them from snapping at you before you start, and that you have your gloves on!