Feelgood Pets

How to express anal glands in pets

Anal gland problems in pets are quite common – often becoming a recurring and very messy issue! Most dogs and cats empty a small amount of anal gland fluid when they have a bowel movement. While more common in dogs, the anal glands sometimes don’t empty naturally or enough which results in the glands becoming blocked. As the fluid builds up, the gland swells causing your furry friend lots of pain and discomfort, not to mention horrid smells! Sounds like yucky stuff, right?

We aren’t going to lie to you – it is! Many pet owners run to their groomer or vet to sort out their cat or dog’s blocked anal glands because they don’t know how to do it themselves. Cathy, our pet consultant explains why so many pets have trouble with their anal glands, how to become an expert anal gland expresser and prevent this smelly problem!

1. What are anal glands?

Every dog or cat has two small grape shaped glands located on either side of the anus at 4 0’clock and 8 o’clock opening positions. In dogs, each gland produces a foul smelling fluid which is its unique scent when it urinates or defecates – this is the signature scent which dogs use to mark their territory.

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2. What causes anal gland problems?

  • Impacted anal glands may occur as a result of allergies which causes the anal tissue to swell and become inflamed, thus blocking the opening of the glands.   
  • Poor quality food which often contains cereal fillers may also be a contributing factor because they result in soft stools and aren’t firm enough for the anal glands to express themselves. If your pet is constipated, use our AllisOne Nat Mur Tissue Salt no. 9 to encourage healthy stools. You may also want to consider improving your animals’s digestion by switching to a natural well-balanced dog or cat food like Vondi’s or Doggobone raw foods – both available for the Feelgood Health shop at Unit 6, Westlake Lifestyle Centre, Westlake, Cape Town – Ph 021 7970193 if you need directions.

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3. What to watch out for

  • Scooting or dragging bottom on the ground (often due to itching)
  • Redness around the anal opening
  • Excessive licking or chewing of the anal area
  • Swollen glands
  • Foul or fishy smell from your pet’s rear

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4. Doing it yourself!

  • Before starting, examine the anal area – if you see any redness or swelling, you should not attempt this yourself, but should take your dog to the vet as there may be an abscess forming or his anal glands may be impacted.
  • If all looks normal, enlist the assistance of a second person to hold and restrain your dog – one would place his arm around the dog’s neck while the other person holds the rest of body firmly
  • If you have a small dog, place him on a counter or table in front of you. For a medium or large dog, you would need to kneel behind him
  • Wear a pair of latex or surgical gloves and have a piece of paper towel ready. Feelgood Pets has formulated a natural remedy called AnalGlanz to empty anal glands. Use this remedy to make the cleansing process quick and easy for both you and your pet.
  • Remember to be gentle and speak to your pet in a soothing manner – as terrified as you are of doing this, remember Felix or Fido is ten times more anxious! You can also use our PetCalm homeopathic remedy for stressed pets BEFORE starting the process – to relax your pet in preparation for the procedure.
  • Okay, here we go! Lift up the tail and lubricate the anal opening with a small amount of Vaseline. Insert your finger slowly into your pet’s anal opening
  • IF THERE IS ANY GROWLING OR SNAPPING – STOP! Let the professionals do it for you for your own safety.
  • With your index finger and thumb, feel for two firm lumps at the five and seven o’clock positions
  • Place the paper towel over the anal opening to avoid squirting and apply pressure gently on the anal gland sacs – press inwards and upwards and you should see fluid being expressed
  • Continue until you feel that the glands are empty
  • Lastly, wipe your pet’s bottom clean and pat yourself on the back for a job well done

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