Your dog could suffer from anal problems and there is nothing to be afraid of. You just need to look out for anal sacs and see if the anal glands need to be expressed. However, maybe your dog still feels pain after the gland is expressed. We fully understand that it’s not easy to see your dog in pain. So we have provided all the information about what you need to know about anal glands expressed.
Dog’s Anal Anatomy
When a dog passes stool, the sphincter muscles in the anus help emptying the anus. Anal sacs are like small packets attached to each side of the anus. They produce an oily, yellowish or brownish liquid that has a strong and stinky scent. Dogs use this scent to mark and define their territories and that is why they sniff other dogs’ private parts.
The pressure from the sphincter muscles also helps in emptying the anal sac and the contents are removed from the body along with stool. When these anal sacs don’t get empty they can cause blockage. This could further lead to infection or anal sac disease which could be very painful for your dog.
What is dog anal impaction?
The fluids in the dog’s anal sacs get flushed out from the body along with stool. When they are unable to pass out, they can dry out and get hardened. The mass in the Anal sacs needs to be emptied. Blockage of anal sacs is called anal impaction and causes swelling in the area. Anal impaction can be easily treated and normally there is nothing to be worried about.
Anal glands are expressed by applying gentle pressure on them. Some dogs frequently need their anal glands expressed.
You should talk to your vet and your vet could teach you how to express anal glands at home. In some very rare cases, the impaction of the anal glands will require surgery to express the glands.
Why does the Anal gland need to be expressed?
Anal glands produce that stinky liquid that keeps adding to the anal sac and is flushed out from the body along with feces. When the anal sac doesn’t get empty, it may cause infection or swelling in the area. The contents from the sac need to be removed and this process is called “anal glands expression”.
Anal glands need to be compressed to prevent the anal area from getting infections and diseases. Swollen anal glands could be very irritating and painful for your dog.
How to tell if your dog needs anal glands expressed?
To know if your dog needs that anal glands cleansing, you have to look out for the symptoms. The symptoms could be following
- There will be a foul smell coming from the dog’s rear.
- You may notice visible swelling near the anus.
- Your dog will continuously scoot or try to lick its tail area.
- If your dog is having constipation or pain while passing stool, maybe you need to check its anal glands.
- Your dog will be in continuous discomfort.
- There may be blood in the stool.
- Your dog is refraining from sitting down.
- In some rare cases, dogs will have difficulty walking.
How to treat anal gland impaction at home?
Trips to the vet come with hefty bills and you don’t want to spend money if you can treat things easily at home. Here is what you can do
- You can empty anal sacs with your fingers. Just don’t forget to wear latex gloves to prevent infection in the dog’s rear.
- Add more fiber to your dog’s diet. Fiber eases the process of passing stools. The dog will easily pass out the liquid from the anal sacs along with it. Pumpkins are a great source of fiber for your dog.
- Increase liquid intake. More liquid helps in the digestion process and brings ease while passing stool.
- Give your dog fish oil and healthy fats to aid in passing stools.
- Add more protein to your dog’s diet.
- Give probiotics to your dog. Probiotics are good bacterias that help to improve gut health overall affecting the digestive system positively.
- Exercise is a key to fitness. Overweight dogs are more at risk of anal gland impaction. More exercise will improve the digestion process keeping the digestive system on track. Also, losing weight is important.
- Applying warm compress soothe your dog. Add Epsom salt or witch hazel in lukewarm water and apply gently to the anal area. It will flush out the liquid from the anal sacs.
Anal sac disease
When anal glands get swollen, the infection could get worsen and transform into anal sac disease. The anal sac could tear off causing injury and pus called an abscess. Your dog will need to get antibiotics along with the removal of pus. Only a vet should decide about further action needed to taken on your dog.
- Pus can rupture the anal sac. It’s important to drain out abscesses and cleanse the area to prevent inflammation.
- After cleaning the area with disinfectants and taking antibiotics, the dog will start getting better.
- You can also gently warm compress the area to drain pus and promote healing.
- Use ointments and antibiotic creams to aid the healing process.
- If your dog gets frequent abscess a surgical procedure may be needed. In severe cases, your dog can suffer from fecal incontinence. In such situations, the surgeon will implant the draining fistulae in your pet.
- To prevent your dog from developing anal sac disease, routine sac expression is advised.
Is expressing glands painful?
Yes, you can hurt your dog if anal sacs have developed abscesses and are swollen and infected. Treating abscesses at home can be quite risky and messy at home. When the sacs get impacted, delay in treatment can increase the risk of rupture.
What causes anal gland problems?
Apart from “it happens”, you might think about what could cause anal gland problems. Here are few reasons
Overweight dogs are more at risk of anal glands impaction.
for whatever reason your dog is having diarrhea, it can cause anal gland impaction. In diarrhea the stool texture and movements are not normal, causing the sacs to fill out.
- Food allergies and hypersensitivities are other reasons for gland impaction.
- Skin allergies can also cause swelling in the anal area.
- Bacterial or yeast infections near the anus can ignite the condition.
- If your dog is facing difficulty in passing stools. The inability of contracting sphincter muscles can cause anal gland problems
- Infection, inflammatory diseases, and tumors could lead to anal gland problems.
- Parasites can fuel up the worse anal gland conditions.
How breeds are linked to anal glands impaction
They say smaller breeds are more prone to anal gland impaction than larger ones. There are few possible reasons for it.
Small breed dogs are usually not very active ones. They are usually kept as toy dogs and don’t involve in straining activities.
They are usually served table food and also they don’t eat in large proportions. So they pass soft stools and anal muscles may not stretch enough to drain out anal sacs.
Small breeds have different weight proportions and distribution science. If a chihuahua gains one pound it’s like a human gaining more than 30 pounds. So even a little obesity can disturb their fecal cycle.
Smaller breeds can have hind limb and knee issues that may alter their way of squatting properly.
Adult dogs are more at risk of anal gland problems. Their muscles could get weaken with age, not aiding them properly in passing out stool.
Due to arthritis, your dog may be unable to squat properly hence blocking the anal sacs.
Can a groomer express dogs’ anal glands?
We don’t advise it. Usually, groomers express glands from outside. You can understand it with the example that you drain pus from a pimple. Now you apply pressure from outside and the pus pops out. This is not a good way for anal gland expression. Pus or abscess can remain in the sac and sometimes can go back inwards causing more infection. This is called external gland expression.
For your dog’s well-being and safety, you need internal gland expression. For internal gland expression, visit your vet. The pus must be drained out carefully from inside to ensure an empty sac.
Dog in pain after gland expressed
Now, the dog was in pain, you emptied anal sacs and the problem was solved! But what if your dog is still in pain after gland expressed? Have you done sometimes wrong?
Usually, the pain remains for two to three days even after anal gland expression. Your dog will be fine after few days. But if your dog is still in pain after gland expressed, look for possible reasons. Maybe your dog is having a food allergy or has irritation in the hind area. You will need to treat that. Ask your vet to suggest changes in the dog’s diet. Changing his diet will ease the process of digestion thus reducing irritation and inflammation in the area.
Also, pain after gland expression could be due to parasites. Treat your dog with deworming medicines.
Can anal glands be removed surgically to save your dog from pain?
Dogs have different bodies and each dog needs anal glands expressed at a different rate. Some dogs don’t need it at all. They empty their sacs by themselves. While some dogs may need anal gland expression after every 6 weeks.
Anal glands can be removed surgically but this is not at all recommended or the first step to begin with. Dogs who have tumors or cancer in glands have their anal glands removed surgically.
The symptom that needs attention after anal glands expressed
Usually, dogs do fine after their anal glands are expressed. But if you notice
- Dog bleeding after anal gland expression as Bleeding could be a sign of injury or you may have ruptured the sac during expression.
- Diarrhea after anal gland expressed.
In most cases, the dog has diarrhea before the expression and that is why the sac was unable to empty itself with stool. Consistent diarrhea due to any reason can lead to anal gland impaction. But if a dog is having diarrhea after gland expression, there could be an underlying infection in the body.
- Vomiting after anal gland expressed as Diarrhea and vomiting could be the symptom of infection after anal gland expression. Your dog can get bacterial or yeast infections after anal sac expression.
- The dog still leaking after the anal gland expressed
If your dog is still leaking after anal gland expression, maybe the process didn’t empty the glands fully. You need to take your dog to the vet to further evaluate your dog’s condition.
If your dog underwent a surgical process to remove anal glands and is still leaking, there may be nerve damage in the area. Your dog will be in pain and unable to hold, due to Inflammation in the area.
Keep in mind that your dog must pass stool within 48 hours of anal glands being expressed. If your dog didn’t pass feces within 48 hours, it means he is having some problem that is restricting the bowel movements. Take your dog for a checkup and monitor bowel movements.
However, You don’t need to worry if your dog is
- After the gland expression, if your dog is still scooting, it is normal. He has irritation in the hind area and this will go away within two to three days.
- Your dog may still smell fishy after gland expressed. This is also normal and nothing to worry about. Anal sacs have a strong odor and it doesn’t go away that easily. To remove the smell try Fresh air. Take your dog out for a walk and let the odor dissolve away in the air. Also, clean your dog with a cotton cloth from the rear and try some air fresheners at home too.
- After gland expression, your dog can have a sore bum. So what to apply on the sore bum after the gland is expressed? Itching is normal but sore bums after anal glands expression need treatment. Apply warm compress and ointments to ease your dog. Sometimes soothing creams don’t work. Your dog needs antibiotics to treat sore bum.
In short, your dog may need anal glands expression. If you notice the symptoms, deal with the problem but if your dog is still in pain after the anal gland is expressed, the vet will decide further treatment for your dog. It is not wise to treat your dog all by yourself after glands are expressed as it could cause inflammation and infection.