How-to express anal glands At-Home

As pet parents, we want to do everything we can to make sure our pets feel as comfortable and happy as possible. However, frequent anal gland expressions by a veterinarian or groomer can become pricy and inconvenient. While you should always consult your veterinarian if you have medical concerns for your pet, anal gland expressions can be performed at home with the proper instruction and knowledge!

Symptoms of Anal Gland Problems

 Dogs

If your pet's anal glands fill up excessively, it can create pressure, which can be very uncomfortable for your dog or cat. When this happens, your dog might display symptoms of anal gland problems, the most common of which is scooting their rear end across the floor. Besides scooting, other symptoms of anal gland problems in dogs include a fishy or foul odor from your pet, excessive licking of the rear end, discomfort while walking or sitting, straining to defecate, or redness/swelling near the rear end. 

Cats

In cats, it may be difficult to pinpoint any symptoms as cats are very good at masking their illness. One of the few signs that could indicate that your cat is having an anal gland issue is defecating outside of the litter box.

Steps to Follow During Anal Gland Expression

External Method

The external method is the easiest method of at-home anal gland expression and is the most comfortable for your pet! This method is especially more comfortable for smaller dogs. 
  • Place a small dog on a table or counter in front of you, or kneel behind a large dog.
  • Put on a pair of latex or similar gloves.
  • Lift up the tail and take about an inch on each side of the anal opening.
  • Using your index finger and thumb, pinch and squeeze the area on both sides of the anal opening. Gently compress the area until you see small amounts of liquid coming out. You may have to repeat this step once or twice.
  • Gently wipe the anal area clean using warm water on a rag or paper towel.

Internal Method

The internal method can be difficult and should only be performed if following proper instruction. However, it is the method professionals and veterinarians prefer.

  • Place a small dog on a table or counter in front of you, or kneel behind a large dog.
  • Put on a pair of latex or similar gloves and apply lubricant to your index finger.
  • Lift up the tail and gently insert your index finger into the rectum approximately one inch forward.
  • Feel with your index finger and thumb for a firm grape-sized object at the five or seven o’clock positions.
  • When you have found the gland gently squeeze the gland’s contents outwards by putting pressure on the most distant side of the gland first and continuing to squeeze towards you while applying pressure on the exterior with your thumb. Do not use more force than you would feel comfortable applying to your own, closed eye.
  • The gland should be barely palpable when empty.
  • Gently wipe the anal area clean using warm water on a rag or paper towel and repeat on the other side if necessary.

Dog Anal Gland Anatomy

 How To Further Support a Healthy Anal Gland Function

In order for your dog's anal glands to empty normally, they need large firm stools to create pressure during defecation. Feeding your pet a high-quality diet with the proper ingredients and nutrients is critical to ensuring healthy stools and healthy anal gland function. 

 

How-to video