Dog in Pain After Glands Expressed? Remedies for Soothing The Pain

Zack Keithy, our author, is a certified veterinarian technician (UC Blue Ash) for over 6 years (contact him here). The articles written here are based on his expertise and experience, combined with a review by our expert vet reviewers including Dr M. Tarantino. Learn more about us here.

Why is your dog in pain after gland expression?

A dog can feel pain after gland expression because of inflammation, injuries, or infections. Some discomfort is normal, but severe or prolonged pain is not, so if that’s happening, you need to consult a vet.

Dog pain is a serious issue. When your dog is whimpering or yelping a bit, it’s not fun to watch, but don’t panic – there are things we can do to help.

Read on for more details as well as learn a bunch of commonly asked questions that dog owners have.

Key Takeaways
Dogs have scent glands near their anus that can become impacted and require manual expression
It’s normal for dogs to experience some discomfort after having their glands expressed
Pain after expression may be caused by inflammation, irritation, infection, allergic reaction, or injuries
If your dog seems to be in significant distress, veterinary care is your best solution
Home natural remedies like warm compress application or soothing ointments may help alleviate mild discomfort
Severe or prolonged pain after an expression is not normal and should be addressed by a professional

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5 Reasons Why Your Dog is in Pain After Its Glands Are Expressed

Here’s a quick rundown of the reasons. Read on to learn the full details.

Reason for painDescription
Rectal tearsTears in the anal glands caused by improper expression
Anal abscessPus-filled glands that become swollen and infected
Pressure sorenessDiscomfort post-expression due to excessive pressure
Inflammation or irritationSwelling, redness, or discharge from a build-up of secretions
Over-expressing or squeezing too hardToo much can cause discomfort and potential harm to dogs.

1. Rectal tears

A possible reason your dog is in pain after gland expression is rectal tears.

If the person who expressed the anal glands wasn’t careful, accidental poking could cause a tear, leading to significant pain.

2. Anal abscess 

One common reason for pain after anal gland expression is an anal abscess.

If your dog hasn’t expressed regularly or if the sacs become impacted, they can fill with pus and swell.

This swelling is painful, especially during the expression.

3. Soreness from the pressure

If your dog is sore after an anal gland expression, don’t freak out as it does happen (particularly in inexperienced hands).

During the expression, you (or the professional doing it) have to apply pressure to your dog’s anus area to help release the contents.

This pressure might be too much and can cause some soreness or discomfort in the area after the procedure.

However, it should typically resolve within a day or two.

4. Inflammation or infection in the glands

Inflammation after expression happens due to a build-up of secretions. In severe cases, it develops into what is known as anal sac disease.

Your dog may experience swelling, redness, or discharge around the anal area, and sometimes it goes unnoticed.

When the glands are expressed during this time, there will be certainly a fair amount of pain or discomfort.

5. Over-expressing or squeezing too hard

Over-expressing or applying excessive pressure during anal gland expression can lead to discomfort and potential injury in dogs.

Whoever is doing it needs to ensure the procedure is done gently and by someone experienced to prevent undue pain and complications for your dog.

What Are Signs and Symptoms of Pain After Having Their Glands Expressed?

Dog bleeding from the anus

If your dog shows signs of bleeding from the rear or has bloody stools, it could be due to hemorrhoids, especially if they’re struggling with constipation.

This might stem from issues like anal gland problems, dietary insufficiencies, or even hemorrhoids themselves.

In severe situations, a ruptured anal gland or other serious complications might be at play.

Whining or whimpering

Dogs are vocal animals. They may not be able to speak, but they sure can express their feelings through noises.

If your dog keeps whining after gland expression, there’s a pretty good chance it’s because of pain.

Dog scooting

When your dog drags its butt across the floor, known as scooting, they’re often trying to alleviate discomfort from anal gland issues.

This behavior signals potential anal gland problems and can be distressing for both your furry friend and you!

Licking anal area

To soothe the pain or discomfort your dog is feeling, you might find your dog constantly licking its rear end.

If you see this action after an expression, it’s best to check whether there’s redness or swelling that might lead to infection.

Keeps sitting down or refusing to sit

After anal gland expression, a dog might frequently sit down in an attempt to alleviate the discomfort.

This is actually similar to how we humans might shift around in our seats if we have discomfort in the rear.

On the other hand, if the pain is more severe, or if the area is especially tender, the dog might avoid sitting altogether.

This could be because putting pressure on the affected area by sitting can be painful.

Why Do Some Dogs Need Their Anal Glands Expressed?

Why Do Some Dogs Need Their Anal Glands Expressed

Let’s first talk a bit about what anal glands are. They are basically these two little sacs on each side of your dog’s anus.

You can’t really visibly see them, but these sacs are responsible for storing and releasing unpleasant secretions (at least to us).

Most dogs express their glands on their own, according to Dr. Barri J. Morrison (DVM), but some might need help.

Doggies use those secretions to communicate with other pooches, especially those they have just met since each dog has secretions that smell differently.

When you take your dog out for a walk, you’ll notice that he’ll sniff around stools that other doggies have left behind.

It does that because of the distinct scent left behind, which comes from the secretions released from the anal glands in the process of expression.

The thing is, some dogs’ anal glands will stop functioning properly, causing them not to release secretions as needed, and this can lead to a very uncomfortable feeling and even infection.

Hence, there will be times when we need to step in to help them express themselves in order to avoid blockages and other issues.

Doggy says, you might wanna read this too: What dog breeds need their glands expressed?

Is It Painful to Express a Dog’s Glands?

Does it hurt a dog to express glands?

Anal glands expression is a painless experience for dogs. In fact, most dogs express their anal glands on their own without a problem.

Dogs don’t usually feel any pain from anal glands expression; but if they do, something is definitely not right, or the expression technique is not on point.

If your dog feels pain during the procedure, it’s likely because complications such as infection, swelling, or blockage have already set in on its anal glands.

In some cases, you might even see your dog’s anal glands bleeding (go to an emergency vet in this case).

You’ll have to be extra careful when this case arises, and it’s probably better if you let an expert vet technician do that for you and your doggy.

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Do Dogs Feel Relief After Their Glands Are Expressed?

Yes, dogs get a sense of relief after their glands are expressed.

Having full anal glands is very uncomfortable for any canine, and it would be worse if the glands develop infections.

When your dog’s anal glands are expressed, the built-up secretions that are causing discomfort will be released, giving relief to your dog.

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Common Dog Anal Gland Expression Side Effects and What to Do About Them

Side EffectDescriptionTreatment/Action
Swelling or rednessIrritation from invasive handlingApply warm compress
InfectionProvide a comfortable resting placeReturn to vet for observation
DiscomfortMild discomfort after expressionProvide comfortable resting place

Swelling or redness

After an anal gland expression, your dog’s bum might turn reddish with a bit of swelling.

This is due to irritation from being handled invasively after the expression. But don’t worry!

You can apply a warm compress to the affected part to soothe the area.

Infection

Infection rarely becomes a side effect of anal gland expression.

But, if the proper expression method is not used, an infection may become a side effect.

It’s pretty serious if this happens, so bring your doggy back to the vet for closer observation.

Discomfort

Your dog will usually experience mild discomfort after being expressed.

This is typical because their bum literally just got pressed!

You’ll just have to provide him with a comfortable place to rest until the discomfort passes. 

How to Care for Your Dog After an Anal Gland Expression?

Keep your doggy calm

Manual anal gland expression can be a tad bit stressful for your doggy, not to mention he might feel a bit sore in his anal part.

Avoid trying to play with him, and instead, just let him rest in a comfortable area away from too much noise.

Keep your eyes on doggy

The expression might cause infection, so keep your eyes on your dog.

Monitor him all the time, especially during the first few hours after expression.

Maintain cleanliness

Clean and dry your dog’s anal area using a soft cloth.

Don’t use any scented or harsh cleaning products. 

How Can I Soothe My Dog’s Anal Glands?

If your dog feels discomfort from its glands, apply a warm compress to soothe the area.

It will calm whatever discomfort he is feeling for a while. 

Make sure that your doggy is involved in regular exercise too!

Exercise encourages bowel movements, helping to release secretions from the anal glands.

Also, I wouldn’t really recommend you to try over-the-counter medication as I find that they don’t really help.

Give your dog a day or two to get back to its normal self and complete the recovery process. If it’s not improving, a vet visit should be arranged.

Recommended Products for Helping With Your Dog’s Anal Glands

Glandex Anal Gland & Probiotic Soft Chew

These chews contain probiotics and digestive enzymes that help maintain your doggy’s digestive system to encourage regular expression.

They also come in different flavors that your doggy will surely love!

Glandex Anal Gland Soft Chew Treats

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Key Benefits

  • Supports healthy anal glands and promotes natural emptying.
  • Contains pumpkin seed, a unique fiber blend, omega fatty acids, digestive enzymes, prebiotics, and probiotics.
  • Recommended and developed by thousands of veterinarians worldwide.

PetAlive Anal Gland Health Dog & Cat Supplement

This supplement is a safe remedy for your dog’s irregular anal gland expression.

It cleanses your doggy’s anal glands, helping him release secretions safely.

You just have to add five to ten drops of this supplement in clean and warm water before applying it to your dog’s anal areas with the use of cotton balls.

PetAlive Anal Gland Health

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Key Benefits

  • Natural herbal remedy for manual expression of anal glands in dogs
  • Reduces pain and swelling, and softens hardened material for easy expression
  • Helps relieve symptoms like scooting, which indicate trouble with anal glands
  • Easy to use
  • Made from high-quality, lab-tested, GMO-free herbal ingredients

How Can You Help Your Dog Express Their Own Anal Glands?

One of the best ways you can help your dog express their own anal glands is by increasing its fiber intake.

Pumpkin is one of the most commonly added high-fiber foods on a dog’s diet, and you can let your doggy eat more of it.

Increased intake will encourage regular bowel movements that can help with the natural anal gland expression of your dog.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can I express my dog’s anal glands at home?

You can express your dog’s anal glands at home, but the process will be messy and smelly. It’s not advisable if you have no complete knowledge of how expression works.

How often would I need to express my dog’s anal glands?

If your dog has had anal gland issues in the past, you’ll have to express his anal glands every 3 weeks. But if your dog has no anal gland issues and they can express themselves without problem, you can bring him to the vet for “manual” expression just a few times every year.

What happens when a dog has their glands expressed?

When a dog has his glands expressed, he is relieved of any discomfort caused by unreleased secretions. The chances of having his anal glands infected will also decrease.

When should my dog’s anal glands be expressed?

It’s time for your dog’s anal glands to be expressed if your dog’s anal area smells too fishy or foul and if he is licking that part constantly.

Can dog food cause gland issues?

Dog food can cause gland issues, especially if it’s not rich in nutrients that promote a healthy digestive system or gastrointestinal tract.

Should your dog suffer from pain after an anal gland expression?

No, your dog should not be in pain. Discomfort is normal for a short time, but persistent pain or signs of distress mean it needs immediate attention from a veterinarian.

In Conclusion: Dog in Pain After Glands Expressed

Although it’s not uncommon for dogs to feel pain after expressing their glands, in my experience, they tend to go away pretty quickly.

We can do our part by giving them lots of love and helping them feel comfortable so do check out the 2 products I mentioned earlier. They work great!

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Zack Keithy
Zack Keithy

Hey, I'm Zack, the Chief Editor here. I was formerly a Certified Veterinary Technician (CVT) for a good 6 years before moving on to greener pastures. Right now, I am still heavily involved in dog parenting duties, and it is my desire to share all our knowledge with fellow dog owners out there! Connect with me on LinkedIn, or read more about Canine Care Central!

2 Comments

  1. my dog looks uncomfortable days after its glands were expressed. There is no swelling or redness, but she still looks like not herself at all. I think both my dog and I are traumatized now. Tips?

    • Hey Michelle. I’m sorry to hear that your dog is feeling uncomfortable after having her glands expressed. I know exactly how it can be quite distressing for both you and your furry friend.

      Here are the key points I would pay attention to to get through this situation:

    • Comfort and Reassurance: Dogs can pick up on our emotions, so it’s important to stay calm and provide reassurance. Spend some extra quality time with your dog, offering gentle pets and soothing words to help alleviate any anxiety.
    • Check for Signs of Infection: Even without visible swelling or redness, it’s possible for an infection to occur. Look for any discharge, foul odors, or increased licking around the anal area. If you notice any of these signs, contact your vet promptly.
    • Diet and Hydration: Ensure your dog is eating and drinking normally. If she’s reluctant to eat, try offering her some bland, easily digestible food like boiled chicken and rice. Hydration is crucial, so make sure she has access to fresh water.
    • Follow-up with the Vet: If the discomfort persists or worsens, it’s important to revisit your vet for a follow-up examination. They may want to check for any complications or adjust the treatment plan accordingly.

      I hope things work out well for the both of you soon!

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