Nobody likes to inspect their dog’s rear end or talk about it, but sometimes it is unavoidable.
If your pet has a problem down there, the stench is usually so awful you cannot ignore it.
Pet parents are well aware that a dog’s anal glands may need to be expressed manually from time to time, but, unfortunately, in certain cases this does not solve the problem.
The dog is still leaking after having their glands expressed, leaving yucky stuff all over the place. Why is that? Is something wrong with the dog?
In some cases, yes, the continuous leaking might be a sign of a more serious problem and you’ll have to see the vet. Again.
In this article, we’ll examine the role of a dog’s anal glands, the problems that may appear and we’ll show you how you can express the stinky glands yourself.
This will save you some money in vet expenses and your dog will be spared a more invasive procedure.
What are anal glands and what is their function?
The anal glands are two grape-sized located on both sides of the dog’s anus. When they are full you can feel them when you massage your dog’s butt. To give you an idea where to find them – they’re situated at a roughly 4 and 8 o’clock position, right under the dog’s anus.
The walls of the anal sacs are lined with sebaceous (sweat) glands that produce a very smelly liquid. The chemicals in this fluid are unique to each animal, which is why they are often referred to as a ‘dog’s calling card’. This fluid varies in color from white to brown and has a pungent fish smell. And we’re not talking about freshly-caught fish, but days-old rotten fish.
Back when they lived in the wild, dogs used this calling card to mark their territory and warn other canines to stay away from their turf.
Domestic dogs do not need to mark their territory, but they are still in the habit of smelling any feces they might run into on their daily walk. And they seem to derive all sorts of interesting information out of it.
Why do dogs anal glands “leak”?
Experts believe that dogs used to be able to express their anal glands on purpose when they wanted to mark their territory. However, at present, most dogs only express their glands when passing a stool. There might be some accidental leakage, though, when a dog is very excited or frightened. Pet owners realize that accidental leaks are normal, but they do have a problem with smelly fluid coming out of their dog’s anus at all times. Like when they take a nap in your bed and foul up everything.
If your dog’s glands leak at random moments this is a sign that the animal has a problem with expressing them naturally. When a dog passes a large firm stool, the pressure helps express the anal sacs, covering the feces in your dog’s unique calling card.
However, if your dog has small soft stools theses cannot apply the same pressure on the anal glands. If too much fluid accumulates in the sacs, they will start leaking at random times. Also, your dog will be quite uncomfortable. Here are a few other signs indicating a problem with the anal sacs:
- Scooting on the floor or carpet
- Trying to lick, scratch or bite at the rear end
- Wagging the tail less
- Not allowing anyone to touch their butt or tail
- Unwilling to sit on this butt
If a dog’s anal sacs become impacted, he will seem depressed, moping around the house as his bottom hurts.
Why does a dog’s anal glands leak when they are asleep?
This happens when the anal sacs are full. If the dog has trouble expressing his glands while defecating, they will start leaking. The sacs empty inside the rectum and it’s possible the fluid leaks out as he is more relaxed during sleep and has less control over the anal sphincter.
Why do they leak after having been expressed?
If your dog has any of the symptoms above, you will have to take him to the vet to have those impacted glands expressed. Many pet parents are surprised to discover that, after going through all that trouble, the dog’s anus still leaks.
If this happens right after the procedure, there’s no cause for alarm. These sacs open inside the dog’s rectum and there might be some stuff left in there. Give it a day or two to see if it stops.
When the problem persists, you need to go to the vet to recheck those sacs. It’s not that they didn’t do a good job the first time. Sometimes the anal glands become infected and it’s hard to say if the vet is to blame for that. And you don’t have much choice. You need an expert to examine your dog’s rear end to make sure he doesn’t develop an abscess.
If you examine the dog’s behind and it looks all red and swollen, then it’s probably an abscess. In this case, the doctor will have to drain the abscess, which is usually done with the dog under general anesthesia. You can well imagine how painful such a procedure is.
The dog will be put on a full course of antibiotics and the doctor will instruct you on how to keep him comfortable during his recovery.
How can you treat a dog who is sore after having their anal glands expressed?
The procedure is quite invasive as the vet sticks his finger up the dog’s butt and starts squeezing things. Your dog will probably be in a foul mood after suffering such indignity. Also he might be more than a little sore, especially if the vet was a bit rough.
While a small treat and some petting might help raise his spirits, he’ll still have to put up with the pain in the butt.
You can help with that by applying warm compresses at least twice a day for up to 15 minutes. If your dog had an abscess, you’ll have to do this for 7-10 days or until the swelling is gone. Also, the vet might prescribe an antibiotic ointment.
The vet might also give you instructions on what type of food you should give your dog. They might prescribe a stool softener for instance as the last thing your dog needs at this time is constipation. Generally, food rich in fiber is recommended for dogs with anal glands problems.
Why might a dog have diarrhea after having their glands expressed?
Just when you thought you got everything fixed, Bam!, the dog gets diarrhea. Is the vet to blame for that? In a way, yeah, as he’s the one that stuck his finger in the dog’s butt. If a dog gets diarrhea after having his glands expressed the cause is probably stress. While this is most annoying, it’s probably nothing serious. Just put the dog on a bland diet for a couple of days and it will go away.
Are some breeds of dog more likely to suffer from anal gland problems?
Any dog can have anal gland problems, but there are indications that small breeds are more prone to such problems. Dachshunds, Chihuahuas and Miniature or Toy Poodles are more susceptible to anal gland impactation.
At the same type, such problems are more frequent among obese dogs. A dog who is severely overweight most often has an unhealthy diet, so it’s not surprising if he has problems expressing his anal sacs while defecating.
Why might a dog bleed after having their glands expressed?
There are two possible explanations for this. Maybe the vet was a bit too rough and caused a small tear while messing around in your dog’s rectum. If that happens, the bleeding should resolve on its own fairly quickly.
Another possibility is that there’s an infection present, in which case you should see the vet again.
How easy is it to express a dog’s anal glands at home?
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. You should always go by this when it comes to your dog’s rear end. You should only consider emptying the dog’s anal sacs when there’s some leakage or if your pet shows obvious symptoms of anal sacs impactation.
You can express the dog’s glands at home, using the external method, not by inserting a finger in his bum like the vet does.
Grab a pair of latex gloves, use one hand to gently lift his tail and the other to locate the anal sacs. They should feel like two peas or small grapes. You should not try to squeeze the glands, but rather milk them by moving your thumb and index finger around them. What you should be going for is an in and up movement. The opening of the anal sacs is on the upper part and they usually empty inside the rectum, but don’t bet on that. Make sure not to wear your best clothes as there might be some squirting.
The key to a successful operation is to be relaxed – both of you. Try to make the dog comfortable, be very gentle and don’t try to rush it. Take your time, don’t apply too much pressure and keep talking to the dog in a calming voice.
Dogs with a poor diet, one lacking in fiber especially, often have problems expressing their glands on their own. If the dogs anal glands keep leaking after having the procedure done, you should take a wait and see approach. It might be just fluid accumulated in the rectum and it should be gone in a couple of days. If it doesn’t, examine your dog’s rear end for signs of inflammation. He might be developing an infection, in which case he’ll probably need antibiotics. And some warm compresses to soothe the pain!