If you notice that your pooch is starting to act funny, always scooting around on the carpet and spending time tending to its rear end more than it used to, then it might be time to express its glands. Another sign is a fishy odor coming from the dog’s behind, which is rather unpleasant.
These are two of the most obvious signs that it is time to express the anal sacs, or glands, of your pet.
Although very important, anal gland expression is painless, quick, and also rather inexpensive. So let’s go over everything there is to know about the cost of anal gland expression in dogs.
How Much Does it Cost to Express Dog Glands?
It costs between $15 and $55 to express dog glands and this price depends on a number of factors including whether you’re getting this done at a groomer or a veterinarian and your location. If you go a few times per year to the same clinic to express your dog’s glands you might receive a small discount.
The Basics of Dogs’ Anal Glands
Dogs have two anal glands, also known as anal sacs, which are situated just below the rectum, internally and away from sight. It’s not uncommon for these pouches to fill with a liquid called glandular secretions. They use these secretions to leave their distinctive scent in the stool as a way of communicating with other dogs.
This is also the reason why your dog might like to sniff the stools of other dogs that it finds while on walks with you.
What Is Anal Gland Expression?
Usually, dogs have no issues expressing their anal glands naturally, by releasing the secretion in small amounts every time the sphincter contracts for bowel movements. But from time to time, due to one of several reasons, the dog’s anal glands might stop emptying properly on their own.
When this happens, they will experience a blockage and usually swell. This is rather uncomfortable for the pet, as you surely imagine. Aside from being uncomfortable, it can also lead to different anal sac diseases. These are the situations in which it is very important to express the anal glands of your dog.
Anal gland expression should be done by an experienced veterinary technician. When done at the groomer, they will only be able to express the glands from the exterior, meaning they will exert pressure on the glands from the outside of the sphincter. It is a manual process during which the technician will reach inside the anus to put just enough pressure on the glands so that they empty. The doctor will also be able to inspect the secretion to check whether there are any signs of abscess or infection in the gland.
Why Do Dogs Need Anal Gland Expression?
So, as we’ve already said, a dog that isn’t emptying its glands on its own can get into medical complications.
These can include:
- Blockages (called impaction)
These conditions can easily become painful and when left untreated can rupture. When this happens, surgical intervention is more than likely to be needed.
The good news is that anal gland expression is usually enough to prevent these issues in full.
Most dogs will need an expression only if they show obvious signs of a blockage, although there are some that might need a routine manual expression.
Although each dog is different in its own way, the common belief is that toy breeds and smaller-sized dogs in general have more issues when it comes to anal glands. There is also an issue with dogs that have food allergies or digestive problems, as they are also more likely to need frequent anal gland expression.
Common Symptoms of Anal Gland Issues
The most obvious signs of a swollen, infected, or impacted anal gland will include:
- Gland secretions or oozing blood from their rear, especially during bowel movements or when they just rest
- Unusual-looking or bloody stool
- A red and swollen sphincter
- Visible or straining discomfort throughout bowel movements
- Licking their behind
- Dragging or scooting their bottom all day long
- A fishy odor
What Causes Dogs to have Anal Gland Issues?
There are some factors and conditions that will favor issues with a dog’s anal glands.
If you have a dog that struggles with one or more of the following issues, it is very important that you take special care to monitor the anal glands of your pet:
- Tumors or congenital defects
- Canine hypothyroidism
- Skin issues, including mites
- Frequent constipation
- Frequent diarrhea
When Should My Dog’s Anal Glands Be Expressed?
Keep in mind that not all dogs will need anal gland expression, as a big number of dogs are able to express their own glands in a natural way. So many dogs will never need this treatment. For others, this might be a one-time thing. But there are dogs that will require a yearly, if not monthly treatment to have their glands emptied of all secretions.
There are dogs that require very frequent anal gland expression interventions. In these cases, talking with your vet to design a good care plan is vital to ensure that your pup has a healthy and happy life.
Can a Dog’s Anal Glands be Expressed at Home?
Although there are quite a few websites that will give you step-by-step instructions to express your dog’s anal glands in the comfort of your home, this is still a trained medical procedure that should be left in the hands of professionals.
This means that doing this at home might cause some issues or complications to go unnoticed for your pet, which can lead to even bigger problems in the future.
When it comes to spotting red flags during the procedure, this is best done by trained vet techs, that can spot things like:
- The need for other serious medical interventions
- Signs of abscess
- Signs of infection
You should also know that you shouldn’t express your dog’s glands when this isn’t necessary because this can cause anal gland sacculitis or inflammation.
So leave this whole process to professionals.
What About Gland Expression in Cats?
Cats also have anal glands, but they are not so likely to have issues related to them. There are still anal gland issues that occur in cats as well, and these shouldn’t be ignored either.
If you notice any of the symptoms given above in your cat, including either licking or dragging their bottom frequently, then you should get in touch with a veterinarian.
A veterinarian will be able to check your cat for any problems requiring glands to be manually expressed.
Preventing this issue
Let’s just start by saying that there is no sure way of preventing anal gland issues in your pet. Still, a healthy weight and diet will surely increase the chances for your furry companion to stay healthy. You can also try increasing the Omega 3 intake in your pet and giving it good dietary fiber to improve the general health of the stool and reduce inflammation.