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.
Do you know what a dog’s anal glands are? If you’re a dog parent, you’ve probably heard of them, but you may not realize just how crucial they are to your pup’s overall health and well-being.
These small sacs produce a smelly secretion that dogs use to mark their territory and communicate with one another, but they can also cause significant discomfort and even infection if they become impacted.
So, how often do dogs need their glands squeezed?
A healthy dog will be able to express its own glands when they pass motion, but some might need help to prevent any health issues from happening. In such cases, a dog will usually need to have its glands expressed manually every 3 to 4 weeks.
In this blog post, I’ll dive deep into the world of doggie anal glands, explore why they matter, and discuss how to keep your furry friend’s derrière in tip-top shape.
- How Often Should You Express Your Dog's Anal Glands?
- Can You Express Your Dog's Glands Too Much?
- How Do You Know if Your Dog Needs Its Glands Squeezed?
- What Age Do Dogs Need Glands Expressed?
- What Happens if You Don't Express Your Dog's Glands?
- How Can I Express My Dog's Glands Naturally?
- Can Dogs Clear Their Own Glands?
- How Can I Prevent My Dog's Glands From Getting Clogged?
- What Can I Feed My Dog to Help Express His Glands?
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- In Conclusion: How Often Do Dogs Need Their Glands Squeezed?
How Often Should You Express Your Dog’s Anal Glands?
Dogs need their anal glands expressed for them when they cannot empty them normally.
Some dogs may never require expressing their anal glands, while others need them expressed every 3-4 weeks up to a few months.
You should know that there are certain factors that may increase the likelihood of a dog developing impacted, infected, or abscessed anal glands, and they include chronic skin dermatitis, obesity, insufficient dietary fiber, chronic soft stool, and food.
If you notice your dog is showing signs of discomfort, pain, or a foul smell from their anal area, it may be time to have its anal glands expressed.
And if this is the first time you’re encountering this, I recommend you visit your vet to perform an anal glands expression.
You can do it yourself at home, but please learn the proper technique from a veterinarian or a professional groomer first.
Can You Express Your Dog’s Glands Too Much?
You can indeed express your dog’s anal glands too much.
Two main issues can arise from this: irritation and inflammation.
Anything too much can be bad for your dog.
Excessive expression of your dog can lead to irritation or inflammation of the anal glands or surrounding area, which means lots of discomfort for your dog and may even require treatment by your veterinarian.
Over-expression of your dog’s anal glands can also make them less functional.
Your dog may not empty their anal sacs naturally, leading to problems like constipation or fecal incontinence.
Everything in moderation is best for your dog, including expressing its anal glands.
How Do You Know if Your Dog Needs Its Glands Squeezed?
Learning how to express your dog’s anal glands can help prevent problems like discomfort and the leakage of the foul-smelling fluid.
Sometimes, you may be able to tell when your dog needs them expressed, but knowing what other signs to look out for is always helpful.
Here are some signs dog needs its glands squeezed:
- Scooting around on the carpet.
- Licking its bottom excessively.
- A red or inflamed anus.
- Blood or pus from the rectum.
- Discharge with brownish material.
- Foul fishy smell.
- Straining to poop.
- Showing pain or discomfort when pooping (dyschezia).
- Not wanting to sit.
- Crying or whimpering.
- Becoming withdrawn or lethargic.
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What Age Do Dogs Need Glands Expressed?
In general, dogs usually start needing their glands expressed around 6 to 12 months of age.
Yep, that’s right, during their adolescence phase.
Just when you think you’ve survived the teething and potty training stages, here comes another glandular surprise!
But why does it happen at this age?
Well, think of it like a hormonal rollercoaster ride.
During adolescence, dogs experience hormonal changes that can affect the production and secretion of the substance in those glands.
As a result, the glands may become more active and require regular emptying to prevent discomfort or, well, that not-so-pleasant odor.
What Happens if You Don’t Express Your Dog’s Glands?
On a regular basis, you should check your dog’s anal glands. What you can do is lightly squeeze its anal sacs which will release a brown or yellow discharge.
But if they aren’t released regularly, they can become impacted or infected, leading to messes and health complications.
Dogs with impacted anal glands can develop a range of problems, including:
- Fecal incontinence: If anal glands become impacted and infected, your dog may strain to pass stool or avoid bowel movements altogether, causing constipation.
- Painful bowel movements: Impacted anal glands can cause your dog pain and discomfort, leading to behavior changes such as restlessness, whimpering, and difficulty sitting or lying down.
- Inflammation: Impaction can cause swelling, redness, and discharge from the anus, or worse, bleeding in the anal glands.
- Skin issues around the anus: Anal gland secretions can cause irritation and infections if they leak onto the skin.
- Anal gland abscesses: These occur when the anal glands are not emptying regularly. The body’s response to this infection is to form a bump in the gland.
- Anal gland torsion: It is a condition that may occur when the gland twists due to not expressing the glands. It can block and prevent the expression of anal gland fluid. If untreated, anal gland torsion can result in sepsis.
- Fistulas: If the anal glands remain impacted for a long time due to not expressing them, it can lead to a fistula, an abnormal skin opening near the anus. Surgery is sometimes necessary to correct the issue.
Pro tip: In some cases, you might want to consider the pros and cons of removing your dog’s anal glands too.
How Can I Express My Dog’s Glands Naturally?
It’s time to express your dog’s glands and you want to avoid using a chemical product. But you’re also hesitant to do it manually.
So, what can you do?
By following the steps below, you can express your dog naturally:
- Keeping your dog hydrated: Providing fresh water throughout the day can help prevent dehydration and ensure they pass stools soft enough to express the glands naturally.
- Use warm compress: The warmth can help to soften the anal gland secretions, making them easier to express. You can soak a clean washcloth in warm water to use as a warm compress and wring it out. Then, hold the warm compress against your dog’s anus for several minutes.
- Supplements: A supplement like this anal gland support chew can help your dog empty its anal glands naturally through a blend of ingredients such as pre and probiotics.
- Regular exercise: Regular exercise can help keep your dog’s digestive system functioning properly, which can help with the natural expression of its anal glands.
Can Dogs Clear Their Own Glands?
Yes, your dog can naturally express their own anal glands, and they typically do so when they have a bowel movement.
It is perfectly natural—and normal!
The only thing is, it might not be always effective or safe, and if the glands become impacted or infected, they may require manual expression by a veterinarian or groomer.
Doggy says, you might wanna read this too: What dog breeds need their glands expressed?
How Can I Prevent My Dog’s Glands From Getting Clogged?
No one likes a messy situation.
Blocked glands in your dog’s bum area are an unpleasant sight, but what can you do about it?
Here’s how to prevent your pet’s glands from getting clogged:
- Dietary changes: Increase the fiber in their diet. It can help create bulk to stimulate better muscle movement in the intestines, which can lead to the natural expression of the glands.
- Controlling their weight: Maintaining a healthy weight for your dog can help ensure their stools are soft enough to express the glands naturally. Provide a balanced diet appropriate for their age, breed, and activity level to control your dog’s weight.
- Use a natural supplement: Some natural supplements may help reduce inflammation and promote healthy bowel movements, which can reduce the need for frequent anal gland expression. It includes pumpkin seed oil or fish oil,
- Add probiotics: Probiotics can also be helpful in naturally expressing your dog’s anal glands. It contains beneficial bacteria that promote digestive health and can help regulate bowel movements. When a dog’s bowel movements are regular, there is less waste buildup in the anal glands, which can lead to fewer problems with clogging and infection.
- Regular vet visit: Teaming up with your veterinarian and following their recommendations can help ensure your dog’s anal glands stay healthy and function properly.
What Can I Feed My Dog to Help Express His Glands?
If your dog is prone to get blocked anal glands, you can feed them a special diet that will help to express regularly.
They’re all easy to find in your local grocery store, or if you prefer a done-for-you solution, I highly recommend trying out Ollie fresh dog food. It’s got everything you need delivered to your doorstep.
High-quality, digestible protein
Giving your dog a diet high in protein from high-quality sources can promote overall digestive health and regular bowel movements.
Some examples of high-quality, digestible proteins are the following:
Fiber helps promote healthy digestion and can help regulate bowel movements, making it easier for your dog to express their anal glands.
Good sources of fiber for dogs include:
- Green beans
- Brown rice
- Fiber broth
Omega-3 fatty acids
These are important for a dog’s health, as they have anti-inflammatory properties and can help reduce inflammation.
Food sources of omega-3 fatty acids for dogs include:
- Salmon, tuna, and sardines
- Chia seeds
- Hemp seed
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Does it hurt dogs to have their glands expressed?
Expressing your dog’s anal glands can be uncomfortable, but it should not be painful if done correctly. Doing this when necessary helps prevent infections and other health problems.
Are full glands painful for dogs?
Yes, if your dog’s anal glands become full and impacted, it can cause discomfort and pain. Your dog may exhibit signs of distress, such as scooting their bottoms on the ground or licking their hindquarters excessively
What breeds of dogs need their glands expressed?
All dogs can develop issues with their anal glands and may require expression, but other breeds are prone to issues with their glands. Breeds such as Cocker Spaniels, Bulldogs, and Chihuahuas are mostly affected due to their anatomy.
Why does my dog release its glands so often?
Your dog’s frequent release of anal glands may indicate an underlying health issue like allergies, digestive problems, or an infection. It’s essential to watch out for such signs and consult a vet for proper diagnosis and treatment.
Do dogs feel better after having their glands expressed?
Yes, dogs typically feel better after having their anal glands expressed as it relieves them of discomfort and pain caused by blockages or inflammation.
How much does it cost to get a dog’s glands squeezed?
When expressing a dog’s anal glands, the cost can vary depending on a few factors. These include where you live, the level of expertise your vet has, and how severe the issue is. The average cost ranges from $15 to $50 per session.
In Conclusion: How Often Do Dogs Need Their Glands Squeezed?
Taking care of your dog’s anal glands is an essential part of being a responsible dog parent, and knowing how often your dog needs their glands squeezed and being aware of the signs of impaction can help you prevent discomfort and infection.
My tips above will surely help you in navigating some of the situations you will encounter, and here are a few more you can check out too:
You’ve made it to the end, but I hope it’s not the end of our journey. We want to hear your voice! Share your thoughts, problems, suggestions, or anything related to your dog in the comments section. And don’t forget to join our newsletter today too.