How to treat your dog's anal glands

September 24, 2014

Unpleasant though they may be, dog anal glands exist for a reason. These grape-sized ducts, situated on either side of a dog’s anus, secrete a smelly, oily substance that lead to more comfortable bowel movements. The emission also serves to mark territory.

How to manually express dog anal glands
If your dog does not regularly secrete from the anal glands during bowel movements, the glands can become impacted, infected, and even ruptured. At the very least, the pressure buildup is uncomfortable for dogs. Rather than waiting until your pet feels the need to scoot his hind end across your living room carpet, you can manually empty the glands by:

  • Protecting your bathroom floor with newspaper and your hands with rubber gloves
  • Positioning the dog’s face toward you and the hind end away from you
  • Lifting the tail, feeling for hard areas on either side of the dog’s anus, and gently squeezing toward the anus

This motion should rid your dog of the extra pressure.

Commercial dog foods can cause anal gland issues
So, why the need for manual expression of anal glands? Is it a design flaw? Not at all. Nature intended dogs to eat far different foods than they are fed today. Most commercial dog foods contain too many processed grains – wheat, rice, oats, corn, soy and even potatoes -- to be healthy for dogs. As we can see by canine teeth – pointed and designed to tear – dogs were created to eat meat.

Switch proteins periodically
Sure, dog foods with chicken and beef are good for your pet, but so are bison and other meats. Dogs were meant to switch protein types as available meats altered from season to season. Switch it up every now and then! Also, make sure your dog is eating a diet appropriate to his or her species.

Dogs need to eat the inedible sometimes
Additionally, today’s processed diets contain almost no traces of the indigestible scavenged items (bones, feathers, tree bark, etc.) that roaming packs of dogs ate in centuries past. These undigested materials contributed to the firm bowel movements needed to fully stretch the anus and express the glands during bowel movements.

Talk to your breeder or groomer to see if your breed needs special attention like the manual expression of anal glands.

How to treat your dog's anal glands
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