Today we are going to talk about a touchy subject for dog owners, the anal glands. What are they? Where are they located, and why is it so important to learn about them? Let’s get up and personal with your dog’s bottom and how to express a dog’s anal glands naturally.
What Are Anal Glands?
Before we dive into how to express a dog’s anal glands naturally, we need to learn a little about them. The anal glands aren’t really a gland at all. Instead, they are actually tiny sacs on each side of the anus at the 4 and 8 o’clock positions. Healthy anal glands express when your dog poops or when they are frightened. You can think of them as scent glands. Why would your dog need this?
These anal gland secretions transmit messages to other dogs who come across them. It’s a way of marking territory, release pheromones, and other news. But occasionally, these glands will get full and cause issues for pet owners and their pets.
What Happens When A Dog’s Glands Are Full?
Occasionally, your dog might find itself in a situation where your dog’s anal sacs get too full. If your dogs can’t express these glands, they fill with liquid and pus. When this happens, your dog will have difficulty sitting and walking without pain. It’s essential to try to relieve your dog of this pain as soon as possible. What happens if you don’t express your dog’s glands? If the glands have chronic problems or can’t drain, it will eventually lead to anal gland infections.
How Do You Know If Your Dog’s Glands Are Full?
So this will naturally lead you to wonder how you can tell if your dog’s glands are full? The biggest tell-tale sign is a fishy smell. Every time your dog walks by, you will smell a strong odor that is unmistakable for anal glands.
Another common sign of full anal glands is scooting. If your dog is suddenly dragging his bottom across the carpet, his anal glands could be bothering him. You might notice scooting accompanied by your dog chasing his tail and licking his rear end to relieve the pressure and itch.
And the last sign that your dog’s anal glands are full is restlessness. Your dog will have a hard time sitting or lounging around the house. You might see him fidget from side to side or getting up and moving a lot. These are all sure signs that your dog is having anal gland issues.
What Causes Dog Glands To Fill?
So now that you know what to look for, you might be wondering how to keep anal glands at bay. You might be shocked to know that this is a common problem in dogs. Some small dogs, like Cocker Spaniels and other smaller dog breeds, are more prone to it.
The biggest cause of anal glands becoming filled is soft stools. You might notice your pet’s anal glands will fill after an illness that causes chronic diarrhea. Or if your dog is eating food with low fiber, they will have soft stools and anal gland issues. Without firm pressure from pooping, these glands will quickly fill with liquid.
But a loose stool isn’t the only cause of anal gland issues. If your dog smells, it could be a side effect of medication or food allergies. If you notice that your dog has an ongoing issue with anal glands, it might be worth talking to your vet about an allergy test and exam. It’s always best to rule on the side of caution when it comes to these sensitive problems.
How To Express A Dog’s Anal Glands Naturally?
So now that we have completed our dog’s bottom 101 class let’s talk about some solutions. You might have heard of anal gland expression from a veterinary technician or groomer. And while this might be a good idea if the situation is severe, it’s not always the best idea. Your dog can have permanent damage if the expression isn’t done right.
So instead, we have a few lifestyle changes and tricks to naturally help your dog express his anal glands. Here are the top recommended things to help your suffering dog.
High Fiber Diet
The best way you can resolve anal gland compaction is to re-evaluate your dog’s diet. Currently, the AAFCO does not require fiber to be in a dog’s diet, and most food on the market has very little. But fiber is essential to anyone’s diet. If your dog’s stools are soft and watery, fiber will soak this up and create more bulk to the feces.
You can solve this by switching to foods with at least 5% fiber, which should be enough fiber for most dogs. Or you can feed high-fiber treats on a regular basis. Dog’s love fresh fruits and vegetables as much as we do. You can give your dog sliced apples, carrots, broccoli, or sweet potatoes to give dogs a boost of fiber. Just remember not to overdo it; otherwise, your dog could develop diarrhea.
Many people also swear by raw diets for their dogs to solve many chronic ailments. It might be worth talking to your vet about if a raw diet is a good option for your dog if he has chronic gland issues. The reason this diet is so beneficial is because of the way your dog will metabolize the food.
Your dog will absorb more calories and nutrients from raw diets. And in turn, the poops are smaller and more firm. So if your dog doesn’t have an issue with soft stools, he will express these small glands naturally.
Probiotics And Prebiotics
Another way to help your dog express his anal glands is to give him pro and prebiotics. Products like Glandex help support your dog’s digestive tract with probiotics and fiber combined. Or you can give your dogs a yogurt treat occasionally for natural probiotics.
These pro and prebiotics work to firm up soft stools and add bulk to watery stools. As mentioned before, with firmer and larger stools, your dog will express his anal glands without any help.
Most people don’t think about what exercise does for the body. It keeps your heart healthy, healthy weight, and yes, supports normal bowel movements. Taking your dog for regular walks will get the intestines working along with a higher quality dog food to firm up the stools. Exercise can also help loosen the anal glands to express themselves.
Water is critical to your dog’s digestive tract. Without water, your dog can’t absorb nutrients and can develop constipation. If your dog isn’t pooping as much as it should, it could lead to anal glands filling up. So how do you fix this?
Many dog owners find that adding a little water to dry kibble or switching to a water fountain works well. And don’t forget to give your dog fresh, clean water daily. Otherwise, they might avoid the bowl. You can even feed canned food high in moisture as a treat to give your dog a boost of water.
And finally, our last natural expression is to use a warm compress. These compresses will help your dog relax and loosen the muscles around the anal sphincter. All you need is:
- Latex glove
- Towel (preferably a paper towel to throw out)
- Warm water
- Epsom salt or witch hazel
To make this compress take one cup of warm water and add either three tablespoons of Epsom salt or witch hazel. Soak your rag, and with gloves on, hold it to your dog’s anus without applying pressure. You will also want to keep the dog’s tail raised to encourage expression. The warmth will open the sacs while the salts or witch hazel will relax and disinfect the anal opening. You will want to hold this compress on for as long as it’s warm.
The trick to this is that you will need to do compresses several times. You likely won’t see results after one use. However, it does help if you do several compresses back to back until the glands drain naturally.
How Much Does It Cost To Express Dog Glands
In some cases, you can’t wait for these natural remedies to take effect. Your dog is in pain and needs human intervention. You might even be tempted to express the glands yourself. But it might be better for everyone if you have a professional do it.
Your vet or groomer can typically do an anal gland expression for less than $20. And that’s money worth spending if you don’t have to do the dirty work yourself. In severe cases of infection, your dog might need further intervention. The only way to treat these types of conditions is at the veterinary clinic. Antibiotics, pain medication, and a flush by the vet might cost you about $150 if the situation is bad enough.
So Let’s Be Proactive!
After your dog has solved the initial anal gland blockage, you can do several things to prevent reoccurrence. Now that you know how to express a dog’s anal glands naturally, your dog shouldn’t need a physical expression again.
Below is a Pinterest-friendly photo…. so you can pin it to your Doodle Board!