Dog at the vet for anal gland expression

Content Reviewed by an Essentials PetCare Veterinarian

You may have noticed your pooch acting funny lately — scooting around on the carpet, spending more time tending to their rear end, or even emitting a less than pleasant fishy odor. 

These are all signs that it’s probably time to have their anal sacs, or glands, tended to. 

Anal gland expression is a quick and painless — but important — procedure for many dogs. Let’s take a look at everything you need to know about anal gland expression in dogs.

At Essentials PetCare, our experienced technicians can safely and quickly perform your dog’s anal gland expression for only $25. It is offered as a singular service. Or you can add it on to any of our other services at the time of treatment.

Remember to bring records showing proof of current rabies vaccine for any non-vaccine related services. Valid vaccine proof must show all of the following info:

  • date given
  • date due
  • vaccine manufacturer
  • serial number 

Don’t have a current rabies vaccine? Not a problem! At Essentials PetCare, we can give a rabies vaccine at the same time as other services.

The Basics of Dogs’ Anal Glands

Dogs have two anal sacs, or anal glands as they are commonly called, which are located internally just below the rectum. These pouches fill with glandular secretions. This allows them to communicate with other dogs via scent and leave their distinctive scent in their stool. 

Have you noticed that your dog takes a particular interest in sniffing the stools of other dogs they find on walks? This is why!

What Is Anal Gland Expression?

Most dogs are able to express their anal glands on their own, releasing small amounts of secretion every time their anal sphincter contracts during a bowel movement. But sometimes a dog’s anal glands stop emptying properly for a variety of reasons. 

If this happens, they can swell or experience a blockage. As you might imagine, this is uncomfortable for your dog. Worse, it can even lead to anal sac disease. In these cases, it’s important to have anal gland expression performed on your dog. 

When anal glands are expressed manually, an experienced veterinary technician will reach just inside the anus to put pressure on the glands until they empty. They will also inspect the secretion to ensure it’s normal and that there are no signs of infection or abscess in the gland. 

Why Do Dogs Need Anal Gland Expression?

dog at vet for anal gland issues

As stated above, there can be complications for your pooch if their glands aren’t emptying on their own.

These can include:

  • Impaction (blockages)
  • Infection
  • Abscesses

Left untreated, these painful conditions can even rupture, and sometimes result in the need for surgical intervention

Fortunately, anal gland expression can help prevent many of these issues.

Some dogs may only need expression when they are demonstrating signs of a blockage, while other dogs need more routine manual expression

While no two dogs are alike, it is believed that smaller breeds and toy breeds have more issues with their anal glands. It’s also possible for dogs with digestive problems and food allergies to be more likely to need frequent anal gland expression. 

Symptoms of Anal Gland Issues

Signs of an impacted, infected, or swollen anal gland may include:

  • Fishy odor
  • Scooting or dragging their bottom frequently
  • Licking at their rear
  • Straining or visible discomfort during bowel movements
  • Swollen, red anus
  • Unusual or bloody stool
  • Oozing blood or gland secretions from their anus during bowel movements or at rest

What Causes Issues with Dogs’ Anal Glands?

There are a number of conditions or factors that can increase the chances of your dog’s anal gland issues.

If your dog struggles with any of the following, you should take special care to monitor their anal glands:

  • Obesity
  • Frequent diarrhea 
  • Frequent constipation
  • Allergies
  • Skin issues, including mites
  • Canine hypothyroidism
  • Tumors or congenital defects

When Should My Dog’s Anal Glands Be Expressed?

Since many dogs express their own glands naturally, it’s important to note that not all dogs require anal gland expression. Some dogs may never need one. Others may only need to be treated once. And still others may have to be seen yearly or even monthly to have their glands emptied.

If your dog is needing very frequent anal gland expression, the experienced team at Essentials PetCare can help determine the best care plan for your pup. 

Can I Express My Dog’s Anal Glands at Home?

While a quick internet search can give you a step-by-step guide to expressing your dog’s anal glands at home, keep in mind this is a trained medical procedure.

That means there could be complications or issues for your pet that may go unnoticed at home — and cause bigger problems down the road. 

A trained vet tech can safely and quickly express your pet’s glands and know which red flags to look for during the procedure, including:

  • Signs of infection
  • Signs of abscess
  • The need for more serious medical intervention

Additonally, expressing your dog’s glands unnecessarily can cause inflammation and anal gland sacculitis.

So leave it to the medical professionals!

While cats also have anal glands, they are less likely than dogs to experience issues with them. That being said, anal gland issues do occur in cats and shouldn’t be left untreated.

What About Cats?

If your cat is demonstrating any of the signs above, including dragging and licking their bottom frequently, you should reach out to your veterinarian.

They can examine your cat and determine if they are in need of having their glands manually expressed

Preventative Care for Your Pets 

Although there is no surefire way to avoid anal gland issues in your pet, a healthy diet and weight can help decrease their chances. Omega 3 supplements and good sources of dietary fiber can reduce inflammation and improve your dog’s stool health

If your pet is struggling with anal gland issues, a visit to Essentials PetCare can help get them back on the road to good health – from top to bottom!

Essential Tip: Check in now to have your pup seen for an anal gland expression. It’s only $25 and can help alleviate your dog’s discomfort.


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