Anal gland expression in dogs

Anal Glands Expressing

We understand that your dog's comfort and health is of the utmost importance to you, which is why we offer a specialised service to address anal gland issues that can cause discomfort, irritation, and infection.  Addressing issues with anal glands is covered in our blog.

Our in-house clinicians are trained to provide gentle, effective external anal gland expression to keep your dog happy and healthy. Whether your dog is showing signs of anal gland issues or you simply want to prevent future problems, our service is here to meet your needs.

We only offer external expressing of the anal glands, internal expressing must be done by a vet or vet technician and is not something we offer.

How much does it cost?
We charge £10 per dog.

Do I have to book?
You don’t have to book in advance but if you want to book ahead that’s fine! We run our clinic appointments from Monday to Friday. We will ask if your dog is reactive before completing your booking. Just give us a call at 01484 246420 or book here. 

How long does it take?
Typically, it can take anywhere from a few minutes to 10 minutes. 

Can I watch?
We usually ask owners to stay out of the room whilst we do anal gland expressing – this is because dogs often play up when their owner is in the room – you would be surprised how well behaved most dogs are for us when the owner isn’t there!  If we feel that it would benefit your dog to have you in the room for comfort then we will come and ask you to join us.

How do I know if my dog’s anal glands need expression?
Dogs have two small sacs called anal glands or anal sacs located on either side of their anus. These glands produce a strong-smelling fluid that is normally expressed naturally when your dog defecates. 

However, sometimes these glands can become impacted, causing discomfort or even infection for your dog. Here are some signs that your dog's anal glands may need to be expressed:

  1. Scooting: If you notice your dog dragging their rear end on the ground or carpet, it may be a sign that their anal glands are full and need to be expressed.
  2. Excessive Licking: If your dog is frequently licking or biting at their rear end, this may be a sign that their anal glands are causing discomfort.
  3. Fishy Odour: If you notice a strong, unpleasant odour coming from your dog's rear end, it may be a sign that their anal glands are full and need to be expressed.
  4. Difficulty Defecating: If your dog is having difficulty passing stools or seems to be straining during bowel movements, this may be a sign that their anal glands are full and need to be expressed.

What happens if my dog’s anal glands aren’t expressed?
If you don't express your dog's anal glands when needed, it can lead to discomfort, pain, and even infection for your dog. Here are some of the potential issues that can arise if you don't express your dog's anal glands:

  1. Impacted Anal Glands: If the anal glands become impacted, the fluid inside can become thick and difficult to expel naturally. This can cause discomfort and pain for your dog and may even lead to an infection.
  2. Infections: If the anal glands become infected, it can cause pain, inflammation, and even abscesses. In severe cases, an infection can spread to other parts of your dog's body and lead to serious health complications.
  3. Discomfort: Even if the anal glands are not infected or impacted, a buildup of fluid in the glands can cause discomfort and itchiness for your dog, which can lead to excessive licking, biting, and scratching in the anal area.
  4. Behavioural Issues: If your dog is experiencing discomfort or pain due to their anal glands, it can cause them to exhibit behavioural issues such as aggression, anxiety, or avoidance of certain activities, such as sitting or lying down.

Does anal gland expressing hurt my dog? 
Dogs may find it uncomfortable or even painful. This can be especially true if the glands are impacted or infected, causing inflammation or irritation in the anal area.

However, our in-house clinician is professionally trained to externally express anal glands, which means the appointment should go quickly and be a relatively painless process.

If our clinician thinks your dog's anal glands are impacted or infected we will be unable to offer expressing and we will refer you to your vet who may advise further treatment.

Which dog breeds need their anal glands expressing?
All dog breeds have anal glands, so technically any dog can require anal gland expressing. However, some dog breeds are more prone to anal gland issues than others due to their specific anatomy or health conditions. 

For example, small breeds such as Chihuahuas, Shih Tzus, and Miniature Poodles are more likely to develop anal gland problems than larger breeds. Breeds with loose skin and wrinkles, such as Bulldogs and Basset Hounds, may also require more frequent anal gland expressing due to the increased likelihood of clogging. 

Additionally, dogs with chronic digestive issues or allergies may be more prone to anal gland problems. Ultimately, every dog is unique and may have different needs when it comes to anal gland care, so it's important to monitor your dog's behaviour. 

Why do dog anal glands fill up? 
Dog’s anal glands produce a strong-smelling fishy fluid that is normally expressed naturally when your dog defecates. However, sometimes these glands can become impacted and fill up, causing discomfort or even infection for your dog.

There are several reasons why a dog's anal glands may fill up:

  1. Poor Diet: A diet that is low quality and low in fibre can cause your dog's stools to be too soft, making it harder for the anal glands to empty properly.
  2. Lack of Exercise: Dogs that are not getting enough exercise may have slower bowel movements, which can cause the anal glands to become impacted.
  3. Breed Predisposition: Some breeds, such as Bulldogs and Cocker Spaniels, are more prone to having issues with their anal glands due to the shape and size of their anal glands or the position of their anus.
  4. Stress or Anxiety: Dogs that are under stress or anxious may have more frequent bowel movements or irregular bowel movements, which can contribute to anal gland issues.
  5. Medical Conditions: Certain medical conditions, such as allergies, infections, or tumours, can cause the anal glands to become impacted or infected.

I thought vets were the only people that can express anal glands?
The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons clarifies: "In terms of internal expression of the para-anal sacs per rectum, it is correct that lay people such as dog groomers cannot undertake this task. This is because it amounts to the practise of veterinary surgery and therefore may only be undertaken by veterinary surgeons or registered veterinary nurses. Or student veterinary nurses working under the “direction” of their veterinary surgeon employer.

Conversely, external expression of the para-anal sacs can be undertaken by competent lay people such as dog groomers or owners. However, the procedure should have been demonstrated and explained to them by a veterinary surgeon (and the frequency of emptying). If a para-anal sec problem is suspected, the animal should be seen by a veterinary surgeon for confirmation of diagnosis and advice regarding necessary treatment. Routine prophylactic expression should only be undertaken on the advice of a veterinary surgeon.

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