Pet ownership (or being owned by your companion animal) is one of the greatest experiences in the world. They’re always happy to see you, they help keep the bed warm, and playing with them can lead to true joy. However, there are some unpleasant aspects of pet ownership. One of those unpleasant aspects is the need for expression of anal glands. You’re probably asking yourself “What are anal glands and why should they be expressed?”
Anal glands are small sacs located near the anus. When your dog is running around at the dog park and he finds a pile of scat that an irresponsible pet owner left behind, the information he receives from sniffing that pile of scat is deposited by the anal glands. They’re what give animal poo the scents that identify species, gender, and even individual animals to other animals.
Occasionally, the anal glands may become infected or fail to drain properly. It’s more likely to happen in smaller dogs than larger dogs, and cats who eat diets lower in protein. You can tell if the anal glands need to be drained if your pet is dragging their rear end along the ground, constantly licking or biting at the anus, or seems to be in pain while defecating.
While there are tutorials out there that give instructions for expressing your pet’s anal glands, this is a job best left to professionals. First, it’s messy and smelly. If done improperly, you could ruin the clothes you’re wearing and leave your animal’s fur with a scent that won’t easily wash out. Next, if the anal glands aren’t correctly expressed, an infection can develop, leading to an expensive vet visit and pain for your beloved pet.
Fortunately, most groomers are trained in anal gland expression. It’s something that can easily be done at your regular grooming appointment. While the anal glands may not need to be expressed at every appointment, a thorough check up is always a good idea!