Taking care of your dog’s anal glands is a very important part of what should be a regular healthcare routine. Today, we take a look at the best practices for doing this.
There’s a beautiful meme circulating across social media platforms that reads: “Whoever said diamonds are a girl’s best friend has never owned a dog”. It’s true, whether you’re male or female, nothing quite compares to the friendship and companionship our furry, four-legged friends have to offer.
They are loyal and enrichen our lives with unconditional love and an abundance of laughter brought on by their quirky little antics. A dog cares more about you than anything or anyone else in this world and we owe it to them to grant them the best life possible. This not only involves long leisurely walks and plenty of hours of playtime but a strict care and grooming routine to ensure your pup’s optimal health.
Whether the grooming routine is something you’ll come to enjoy as a bonding session highly depends on your dog. Some dogs love the attention – they sit back relaxed and happy to be pampered with a thorough shampoo or brush and won’t even show signs of protest when it comes to the dreaded nail-clipping part of their spa day.
Others hate nothing more than to be bathed and combed and will have you chase them around the house before finally giving in to a bath under hauling protests. There’s one grooming and health care ritual most humans and all dogs, dislike, yet it’s one that cannot be avoided: the regular cleaning of a dog’s anal glands.
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How Do You Know When Your Dog Needs Their Glands Expressed?
Dogs have two anal sacs on either side of the anus that are filled with uniquely-scented fluids. These are released every time your dog poops – i.e. the reason dogs are obsessed with sniffing their mates’ butts and feces. Some dogs – particularly smaller breeds – are prone to clogged glands, which can be painful and lead to nasty infections. This is when the owner or vet needs to lend a helping hand to avoid further discomfort and complications.
Unless there is a visible problem or a notable odor emitting from your dog’s behind, it’s not always easy to tell when your dog needs their anal glands emptied. There are, however, two very telling behaviors that could point to that time of the year.
One is that admittedly comic routine that has everyone in stitches: the one that sees your dog scooting his butt across the carpet. The other is the rather unappetizing and obsessive licking of their behind – much more than they usually do. If your dog is displaying any of these behaviors, it’s probably time for you to pull on your latex gloves and get the job over and done with.
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Prepare Yourself (and Your Dog)
Suffice it to say, this is going to be an activity neither of you are going to enjoy very much, so it’s important to be prepared. Firstly, you’re going to want to find the right environment for this task – preferably outside or a neutral environment such as the bathroom or terrace. This is definitely not something you’re going to want to do in your living room or kitchen.
Once you’ve found the ideal location, dig out some old clothes or an apron – avoid wearing your Sunday bests because this could get messy and it will get stinky. Prepare a liquid absorbent pad or cloth, a towel for your dog to stand on and, most importantly, heavy-duty rubber or latex gloves and lubricant.
If you’re working with a smaller dog, you may want to consider preparing a table or a platform for them to stand on for easier access.
It’s important to empathize with your dog, here. Imagine what it’s like for yourself, when you’re headed to the doctor for an uncomfortably intimate examination – you’ll want to be treated with patience, kindness, and respect. Do the same for your dog.
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Getting Down to Business
Now that you have prepared the space, the dog and yourself, it’s time to face the music – or in this case, the great stink. It is recommended to do this with a partner who can help restrain and calm the dog, as this will make it easier on both you and your dog. Position the large dog on the towel and kneel behind them; small dogs are best placed on a table or platform.
If you’re working with a helper, ask them to keep your dog in a gentle head-lock with one arm, and to use the other to hug the dog against their body closely.
Once the dog has relaxed enough to be handled, pull on your latex or rubber gloves and lubricate your index finger – this is very important to avoid causing the dog any unnecessary pain. Keep talking to your dog in soothing tones, to keep them as relaxed as possible. Gently lift the tail and insert about one inch of your index finger into the rectum.
Position your thumb on the exterior edge of the anus and bring it to your index finger, slowly using the “pinch” shape of your fingers to feel out the anus. The glands are located in the 4 or 5 o’clock and the 7 or 8 o’clock position and feel like a firm, round blob.
Once you’re sure you’ve found the glands, reach for your absorbent pad or cloth and slowly start to exert pressure on the glands. Hold the pad or cloth against the glands seeing as the liquid tends to squirt outwards – you’ll want to make sure you catch it to avoid staining yourself or the floor. Continue to “milk” the glands until you can barely feel them anymore, then use a warm, soapy washcloth to give the dog’s behind a good clean and he’s good to go.
A Moment of Stink Over a Lifetime of Regret
Taking care of your dog’s anal glands isn’t the nicest aspect of pet ownership, that’s for sure, but it’s necessary. Think of it this way: would you rather deal with a moment of stink or a lifetime of regret? Exactly. So, roll up your sleeves, slap on some gloves and do what’s best for your dog.