Taking Care of Your Dog's Anal Glands
Watch Out for the "Scoot"
You might have seen one of the many videos on You Tube where a dog is scooting his butt across the floor in a most humorous way. Not only is it unfair to the dog, who has no idea millions of people are laughing at his expense, it's also a sign of a potentially serious problem - impacted or infected anal glands.
It may not be something you want to bring up at the next vet visit but it's important that you do. Learning how to care for your dog's anal glands will help insure he stays healthy and may save you the cost of an emergency visit to the vet later on. Anal glands are a dog's calling card - they emit a small amount of fluid when pressured by urinating or defecating and that fluid has your dog's own unique smell. They can also release the smell when a dog is excited, for example when meeting another dog. If the glands aren't expressed (releasing built up fluid) naturally and regularly, they become impacted which can lead to infection or even a rupture of the glands.
Regular Care of the Anal Glands
Some dogs never have a problem with their anal glands so it's up to you to be aware of the warning signs. The famous scoot across the floor is a good indication that your dog needs his anal glands expressed. Other signs are a fishy odor around your dog's behind, your dog licking near his rectum, or soft stools. If you notice any blood where your pup has scooted, go to the vet immediately, as it is a sign of an infection.
The Role of Nutrition
By feeding your dog a higher quality dog food with fewer or no cereal fillers, your dog will likely produce firmer stools which will naturally express the anal glands.
Avoid People Food
Table Scraps are more likely to cause soft stools.
There are some supplements that are thought to support the anal glands such as the product "AnalGlandz." Be sure to check with your vet before starting any supplement.
Having a Professional Express the Glands
This is really recommended as an expert is less likely to hurt your dog and can do it quickly and efficiently. You can bring your dog to the vet to get the glands expressed when you notice a sign that they're impacted. You can also bring him to the dog groomer. A groomer is a good choice because she likely sees your dog every few months and, thus, there's less time that the glands are going unchecked.
Doing It Yourself
Again, this is not recommended but if you're determined to express the glands yourself, here are some simple instructions. The key is to be calm, prepared, and as quick as possible as this is not a pleasant experience for your dog. Think about it happening to a human and you'll sympathize.
- Locate the anal glands. They are at about five and seven o'clock on either side of his anal opening.
- Wearing latex gloves, apply firm but gentle pressure to the glands. Hold a warm cloth over the opening to prevent a squirt of the nasty fluid.
- Some fluid should be expelled from the opening. Do not repeat the process; simply wipe your dog with the wash cloth and reward him.
Anal glands can be easily overlooked when you consider your dog's health. But these small, stinky sacs can cause a lot of trouble if they aren't checked. An impaction is uncomfortable for your dog, an infection is painful and a rupture is extremely painful and leads to further complications. And the next time your pup scoots around the floor, call the vet and keep the camcorder in the closet.