To have to pop anal glands doesn’t sound very fun, does it? As pet parents, we often have to deal with some uncomfortable and gross issues our pets experience. Does your pet scoot on its’ bottom across the floor or ground, or do you notice them stopping often to bite or lick its rear end? Although worms are thought to be the problem behind this unusual behavior, anal sacs are usually the blame. However, it is necessary to check your pet’s rear end or stools for any signs of worms. Your pet has two anal sacs, which are used to mark its territory and identify other animals. That’s why you see them squatting and releasing a fluid while on those daily walks and smelling each other’s rear end.
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Sometimes, the anal sacs get clogged, or the glands produce more fluid than necessary, resulting in an uncomfortable feeling and causing your pet to itch or have a feeling of fullness. This discomfort will lead to your pet requiring an anal gland expression.
You may ask, “Do all dogs need an anal gland expression?” “Does my new puppy need one?”
Usually, these anal sac problems occur in small dogs but also can affect larger dogs as well. There are a couple of things you can to help relieve your pet from its rear-end discomfort. The first thing you can do is to stop giving your pet human food, which can cause their stools to be softer, building up more fluid. Make sure you stick to dog food only. The next thing you can do is actually empty the sac. Yes, not very appealing, and if you are not up to it, you can let your vet take care of the more “intrusive” and thorough treatment.
But if you are up to it, here is what you can do to help ease your pet’s rear-end woes. Take your pet to the bathtub or a place where you can clean him afterward. Make sure you have a pair of latex gloves, paper towels, and a damp cloth. Stand to the side of your pet and lift its tail. Hold a cloth or paper towel in one hand to catch the secretions but do not stand directly behind your pet unless you want the fluid all over you.
A dog’s anal sacs extend from both sides of the main anal opening at about the five and seven o’clock positions. For cats, they extend to about the four and eight o’clock positions. If the sacs are full, you should be able to feel the hardness, often not bigger than a pea. With the hand that’s holding the towel or cloth, place your thumb and forefinger on either side of the anal opening and gently press.
Make sure the anus is completely covered with the towel. You will be able to actually feel the anal sacs empty as you squeeze. The fluid from the anal sacs may be thin or thick and range from yellow to light gray or brown. If nothing comes out, take a break and try again but don’t press too hard. Pressing too hard can be painful to your pet and can also damage the sacs.
If nothing comes out or if blood or a pasty black substance comes out, visit your vet right away. Another reason to visit the vet is if your pet flinches in pain when you touch the anal sacs or if you see swelling, sores, or growth, which could be infections or polyps. Taking these steps can help relieve your pet from rear-end discomfort.