How Do You Unblock a Dog’s Glands? [Simple Steps]

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.

Have you ever noticed your furry best friend obsessively licking or biting at a particular spot on their body, especially near its bum?

While this behavior may seem harmless, it could be a sign that your dog’s anal glands are blocked.

Anal gland issues are not only uncomfortable for your pet but can also lead to serious health problems if left untreated.

They get blocked for a number of reasons such as when they are not squeezed properly, have a poor diet, or are suffering from some kind of infection. To unblock them, you will need to look deeper into the specific cause and come up with a properly targeted solution.

In this post, I want to share with you these solutions and how you can make life better for everyone!

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Why Do Dogs’ Glands Get Blocked?

Why Do Dogs' Glands Get Blocked?

Blocked glands are a common problem for dogs, and knowing when to express them can be tricky. 

So, why do your dogs’ glands get blocked?

Here’s why:

1. Sacs are not properly squeezed out

The pressure of your dog’s feces passing through the rectum typically causes it to squeeze off the anal glands and release the fluid along with the feces. 

However, in some dogs, the unexpressed fluid during defecation can cause the glands to become clogged and inflamed over time. 

It can lead to more severe problems like infection and abscess formation.

2. Poor muscle tone in obese dogs

Obese dogs may have poor muscle tone around their anal glands, which can prevent fully emptying the glands during defecation.

The excess fat around your dog’s anal area may also pressure the glands, making it harder to express the fluid normally. 

Over time, this can cause the glands to become impacted, infected, or inflamed, leading to discomfort and pain for your dog. 

3. Excessive secretion of the gland

Anal sacs, or anal glands, are small oval-shaped organs inside your dog’s anus.

It secretes a small amount of fluid during defecation, which can help your dog to mark its territory and to communicate with other dogs. 

However, if their glands produce too much fluid or fail to empty, the excess fluid can accumulate and cause the anal sacs to become impacted or infected.

What you will then notice is that your dog may have trouble pooping and smells like feces.

4. Skin conditions such as allergies or infections

If you notice that your dog is struggling to relieve itself, it could be a sign of a medical issue.

Skin conditions such as allergies or infections can cause inflammation and irritation around the anal area. 

It can result in discomfort and make it hard for your dog to express itself independently.

Just like when you are not comfortable pooping while you feel unwell or constipated.

5. Inadequate fiber in the diet

Your dog can get constipated when they don’t eat enough fiber.

Fiber plays a really important role in maintaining bowel movements as it helps to promote a regular emptying of your dog’s anal glands. 

It smoothens the process, and the lack of it means your dog may become constipated, making it difficult for the anal glands to empty properly.

If the anal glands don’t empty properly, the fluid inside them can become thick and build up, resulting in blockages.

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6. Your pet’s poop is too small

As you might know by now, when your dog defecates, the passing of stools creates pressure that helps to express the anal glands naturally. 

The problem is, if the stools are too small, there is not enough pressure to empty these glands properly. 

As a result, the fluid inside the glands can become thick and build up, leading to blockages and discomfort for your furry friend.

7. Inflammation of the ducts

The ducts are tiny tubes that carry fluid outside of your dog’s body. 

When these ducts become inflamed or irritated, they narrow or block the liquid from draining properly.

Allergies, infections, and injuries can inflame the ducts, causing them to not function the way they should.

8. Poor diet

If your dog is suffering from a blocked anal gland, there’s a likelihood that they aren’t getting the proper nutrients from its diet. 

A poor diet that lacks essential nutrients can contribute to problems with your dog’s digestion and bowel movements, which can, in turn, affect its anal glands.

9. Not enough exercise

It’s possible that a lack of exercise could be a contributing factor to your furry friend’s anal gland issues.

Enough physical activity can help promote healthy bowel movements, which can then prevent anal gland blockages.

You might want to look into increasing its activity levels if it’s being too much of a couch potato!

10. Anatomical features

Dog breeds with short legs are more likely to develop blocked anal glands due to their unique anatomical features, for example, breeds like Basset Hounds and Dachshunds.

Similarly, breeds with skin folds can also be more susceptible to anal gland problems because the folds can trap bacteria and cause infections, just like Bulldogs and Shar Peis.

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

How Do You Unblock a Dog’s Glands at Home?

The most important thing you need to know is to make sure to empty your dog’s anal sacs regularly.

Blocked glands in your dogs can be a serious issue and knowing how to unblock them at home is essential.

Here’s how:

  • Wash your hands with soap. Then put on a pair of gloves.
  • Warm up some oil in the microwave for 10 seconds until it’s a comfortable temperature for you to hold.
  • Alternatively, use petroleum jelly.
  • Hold your dog still and gently squeeze the swollen and painful gland. You may need someone else to hold your dog while you do this.
  • When you’ve finished squeezing the swollen gland, apply some warmed oil and rub it gently.

If this doesn’t work, it’s time for a vet visit, or consider checking with an online vet first.

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How Many Times Do Dogs Express Their Glands?

Every time your pet poops.

When your dog defecates, the pressure from passing stool puts pressure on its anal glands—causing them to release a small amount of fluid. 

It is a natural and normal process that allows your dog’s glands to empty and stay healthy.

How Hard Do You Squeeze a Dog’s Glands?

Use a gentle but firm pressure to squeeze your dog’s gland and help release the contents. It shouldn’t take a lot of strength to start seeing the brown fluid start flowing out.

You also need to be aware that the pressure you apply should be the same on both sides of the anus rather than directly on top of the gland to avoid causing discomfort or injury to the dog.

Please don’t try to apply too much pressure or squeeze too hard! This will definitely cause pain, injury, or infection, so if it’s not working, don’t increase the intensity. It doesn’t work that way!

I highly recommend that you at least watch and learn from a groomer or vet at least once before attempting to do so on your own.

How Do You Know if Your Dog Needs Its Glands Squeezed?

How Do You Know if Your Dog Needs Its Glands Squeezed?

Every dog needs its glands squeezed. That’s a fact.

But how can you know if your pet needs to have them pressed?

Here are some obvious signs:

  • Dragging its bottom along the carpet
  • Excessive licking of its anal area
  • An inflamed or red anus
  • Presence of blood or pus in the rectum
  • Discharge with a brownish color
  • A foul odor
  • Difficulty defecating
  • Showing signs of pain or discomfort during bowel movements
  • Reluctance to sit
  • Crying or whimpering. 
  • Becoming less active or withdrawn.

What Home Remedy Can I Give My Dog for Swollen Glands?

Keep in mind that home remedies may offer only temporary relief.

They may not address the root cause of your dog’s swollen glands.

A vet is the best person to determine the underlying cause and prescribe an appropriate treatment.

Having said that, here are some natural remedies that may provide temporary relief for your dog’s swollen glands:

  • Warm compress: Gently apply in the affected area. It can help reduce inflammation and promote healing.
  • Epsom salt soak: Epsom salt has anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce swelling. Add 1/2 cup of Epsom salt to a gallon of warm water and soak your dog’s affected area for 10-15 minutes twice a day. 
  • Massage: Gently massage the affected area to improve blood flow.
  • Honey: Give your dog a small amount of honey. It has antibacterial properties that can help reduce inflammation and fight infection.

FAQs

Can coconut oil help a dog’s glands?

Coconut oil is great for dogs with anal gland problems. Applying a small amount to the anus can help soothe irritated skin, promote healing, and prevent infection.

Does pumpkin help dogs express glands?

Yes, pumpkins can help dogs express their anal glands. The high fiber content promotes regular bowel movements and firmer stools. Adding a bit of plain canned pumpkin to your dog’s diet can also boost nutrition, as it is rich in vitamins and minerals.

Can a dog express its glands by licking?

A dog cannot express its glands by licking. Instead, your dog is trying to clean itself, which is a sign that it needs to express.

Are full glands painful for dogs?

When a dog’s anal glands are full and impacted, it can cause pain and discomfort. Your dog may show signs of distress, like dragging their bottom on the floor or licking their hindquarters too much.

What breeds of dogs need their glands expressed?

All dogs can develop issues with their anal glands and may require manual expression. Breeds prone to problems with their glands include Cocker Spaniels, Bulldogs, and Chihuahuas.

In Conclusion:

I can understand that any dog owner will be quite upset with a situation like this, and while unblocking your dog’s glands may seem like a daunting task, with a little knowledge and the right tools, it can be a simple and straightforward process.

Remember, anal gland issues might be common in dogs, but they should not be taken lightly.

Regularly monitoring your dog’s behavior and keeping a close eye on their hygiene habits can help prevent blockages from occurring in the first place.

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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 Daily Dog Drama!

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