Making sure we look after our dogs is at the forefront of every owner’s mind.
There are vaccinations, check-ups, dental care appointments, grooming, nails, and tails. But, what about the dog’s anal glands?
Expressing a dog’s glands might be an essential part of their long-term well-being. So, how do you know if your fur baby needs their glands expressed? Well, some dogs never do.
Some dogs need it as often as twice a month. Some maybe just once a year.
Whatever breed your pooch, there are a few, common, tell-tale signs that you can look out for. We will look at them in more detail below. But first…
What Are Glands?
Glands are essentially organs. They perform a function in the body that is to produce something. For dogs, there are two key players. The anal glands.
The anal glands are two small-ish sacs located on either side of a dog’s anus. Their function? To emmit your dog’s personal brand of scent after they have finished their business out and about.
Their anal glands mark the dog’s territory and, it is important to look after them properly.
If left full and unattended, the glands can quickly become painful and infected.
The infection can then end up leaving your hound in discomfort and at risk of a more serious infection. Not to mention, this may end up costing you a lot of money too.
Why Do They Need Expressing?
More often than not, a dog’s anal glands will self-express. This means that you don’t need to bat an eyelid and, your pooch can take care of themselves. However, the anal glands can become blocked.
This happens when, after going to the toilet, the glands for a variety of reasons, fill up and don’t express.
For example: If your dog has had diarrhea, there may not have been enough ‘pushing’ action while defecating.
This pushing action is the thing that enables the glands to fully express themselves. Without it, they simply sit full and become swollen, sensitive, and blocked.
If left untreated for a long period of time, the glands will rupture. This will cause almost irreversible damage to your dog’s anus area.
It will also bring them great pain and discomfort and could cause further complications including problems emptying their bowels.
What Are The Signs That My Dog Needs Their Glands Expressing?
As mentioned above, there are definitely a few red flags to alert you when your pet needs their glands expressed. Things to look for include:
Exessive Licking: If your dog has all of a sudden become obsessed with licking their bum, especially after finishing their private business, this is a clear sign they need help.
Shuffling: The classic cartoon image of a dog scooting along the floor may spring to mind. This is absolutely correct!
If your dog is having trouble with their anal glands, they may well be trying to alleviate their discomfort by shuffling along the floor.
Biting Their Bum: It’s hard to see our pets in pain, especially when they are the perpetrator. However, sadly a dog in need of a gland extraction will bite itself repeatedly.
Again, this is just an attempt to release some of the pressure that they may be feeling. Do not ignore this behavior.
A Foul Smell: Anal glands that are doing their job, express your dog’s personal scent into the surrounding area often through a yellow or brown-like liquid.
You may find that if your pooch is having trouble, this stinky liquid may appear in places you don’t want it to. Such as your living room carpet. (Or anywhere the dog may rest).
Should I Use A Professional?
The short answer is, yes. It is recommended that you use a professional to express your dog’s glands. That said, it is a skill you can learn to do at home.
It is probably easier and safer to allow a trained person to perform the service.
You can have the anal glands expressed at your veterinary surgery by your regular vet as a part of any check-up, You are also able to take your dog to any trained dog grooming facility.
Trained groomers often include an anal gland expression as a part of a grooming package, or as a stand-alone option.
The vet or groomer will use a (gloved) hand to squeeze the glands gently and empty them. Think of it akin to milking a cow, but with much less desirable results.
Why Is It Only Some Dogs?
As with anything, some types of dogs are better at self-expression than others.
Smaller breeds, for example, chihuahuas, are prone to these types of problems. They are the category that may need regular bi-monthly expressions from your vet or groomer.
Problems with expressing anal glands are really common in obese dogs. If your dog is not within their expected weight category they may also be suffering from this problem.
Another common factor can be allergies. If your pooch has a sensitive stomach and/or eats the wrong thing (as they so often do), this can lead to expression problems too.
So as we have learned, there are definite clues to show when your dog may need some anal gland assistance.
Anal gland expression can be done by your vet or your groomer or, if you’ve received the proper training and prefer, by yourself.
The biggest risk factor is if your dog is overweight. Keeping your furry best pal within their weight range is highly recommended! A balanced diet will also help your dog with the self-expression of the anal glands.
If you see the signs, don’t ignore them. This can lead to much bigger long-term problems for your dog. Anal gland expression is a simple, relatively short procedure that will leave your pooch happier and more comfortable.
They may never need to have their anal glands expressed. You can be certain that they will let you know if they do need your help!