Your dog’s anal glands

One of the lesser known, and unpleasant, aspects of grooming and health care involves the dog anal glands. When a dog passes a stool, pressure is placed on glands located on either side of the anus and they secrete, or express, a fluid along with the stool. Every dog’s secretion has a different odor to identify him, which is one of reasons why dogs sniff each other in the rear when they meet.

On rare occasions, a dog’s anal glands will become impacted. Certain breeds and obese dogs are more prone to this condition than others. Signs of impacted glands can include:

  • scooting or dragging the butt on the floor
  • excessive tail chasing
  • excessive biting or licking of the tail or anus
  • swollen anus

If you notice any of these in your dog, his anal glands may need to be expressed manually. You can do this yourself or enlist the help of your veterinarian or a professional groomer. Impacted anal sacs that aren’t expressed can eventually lead to infection and abscess.

A dog with chronically impacted anal glands may be put on a high-fiber diet to bulk up his stools and help natural expression, or, in extreme cases, he may need to have his anal glands removed.

Expressing dog anal sacs

There are two methods for expressing a dog’s anal glands.

External expression

Hold your dog’s tail up and gently pull it back toward his head with one hand. Put a tissue or paper towel in your other hand. Place your thumb and forefingers just below the anus at the 4 o’clock and 8 o’clock positions respectively. You should be able to feel the anal glands under the skin as pea- or bean-sized bumps. Press in firmly and squeeze your thumb and forefingers together over the glands to express them. You can visit the Dachshund Network website for tips on expressing dog anal glands or sacs.

Internal expression

Internal expression involves inserting a finger in your dog’s anus and squeezing each gland between the thumb and finger. You should ask your veterinarian for specific instructions so you don’t risk damaging the delicate tissues.

Whichever method you choose, make sure you receive adequate instruction from a professional. There’s no substitute for hands-on learning, particularly when you’re dealing with a sensitive part of your dog’s anatomy.


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