Do Your Dog's Anal Glands Need To Be Expressed?

The term "anal glands" might make you cringe, but as a dog owner, this is a part of your dog that it's important to be knowledgeable about. Your dog has two anal glands – one on either side of his or her anus. These glands secrete substances that mark your dog's territory whenever he poops. Sometimes, however, they can become clogged, and they'll need to be expressed by you – your dog's loving owner.

Here's a closer look at some signs that your dog's anal glands need to be expressed and how you should go above this unpleasant-but-necessary task.

Signs of Clogged Anal Glands

Most dogs, when their anal glands are clogged, will begin dragging their rear ends across the carpet or ground. They might do this after pooping or randomly throughout the day. Your dog may also spend a lot of time licking his rear end. You may notice a strong odor, similar to fish, when your dog is doing this. This is the smell of the anal gland secretion.  Some dogs also start to have trouble passing stools when their anal glands are clogged. Your dog may take longer than usual to defecate or may make whining noises while doing so.

Expressing the Anal Glands

This task only takes a few minutes, but it's important to prepare for it properly since the liquid that comes out is very smelly and will leave its odor behind on anything it comes into contact with. Clothe yourself with items you don't mind disposing of. A pair of latex gloves is also essential. Do this outdoors on the grass if possible, or cover a table or your floor with plastic (like a shower curtain) to protect it.

Once you and your area are prepared, grab a thick stack of paper towels. Have a friend hold your dog still while you place the paper towels over your dog's anus. Then, place your fingers on either side (horizontally speaking) of your dog's anus. Squeeze firmly. A liquid should emerge. Place the paper towels in a plastic bag, and repeat this process one more time. Try not to gag at the horrible smell.

If you cannot bear the idea of expressing your dog's anal glands, your vet or groomer can do this for you. If your dog's glands are clogging often, your vet may recommend changing your dog's diet. Feeding a higher fiber diet can bulk up the stools so that they express more of the anal gland secretions when your dog defecates. This should decrease the need for expression.