Anal gland expression

March 24, 2010 at 5:43 am 18 comments

Hi everybody, we cover EVERYTHING on Boogie’s blog and today’s post is about anal gland expression. Warning: this may gross you out.

Boogie is the first dog that I have known who needs to have his anal glands squeezed/emptied/expressed by a human on a regular basis. It’s, literally, a pain in the ass.

I know that it’s time for a vet visit when I smell that familiar stinky fishy odor coming from his butt, when I see him obsessively licking his butt or dragging it on my rug (ew). This happens every few weeks. It is said that some dogs can empty their own glands when they do a poop, but others need to have this done for them.

According to this blog post (and I have heard this theory before), it could be a matter of feeding the right food with enough fiber. Boogie eats really well and has firm poops. I have also tried adding extra fiber to Boogie’s diet, assuming that harder poops = natural pressure on the anal glands, alas … this made no difference.

I know some vets charge for anal gland expression and the costs could add up. Thankfully the clinic that we go to does it for free… but there is a long wait to see the Dr. and the simple 2-second task of squeezing Boogie’s glands sucks several hours out of my day.

A year ago, I asked Dr. R to show me how to do it myself, at home. He made it look so easy. I also watched several YouTube videos.They made it look so easy too.

So I put on some latex gloves and attempted to express Boogie’s glands myself. It was NOT EASY!

1. I couldn’t feel the anal glands. I tried the 4 c’clock and 8 o’clock positions; I felt all around the anal opening… Seriously, I could not feel anything! Nothing at all. No pea-sized sacs, nothing.
2. I even stuck my fingers inside his butt (with gloves on of course!) – NOTHING. I couldn’t feel anything to squeeze.
3. With my thumb and forefinger around Boogie’s butthole… I squeezed upwards, downwards, inwards,… I tried all kinds of squeezing, used all kinds of pressure… nothing came out.

That was about 2 months ago. I gave up and took Boogie in to see Dr. R who had the stinky fluid squirting out of Boogie’s butt with ONE precision squeeze.

Last week I brought the subject up again, told Dr. R that I had trouble doing it myself at home. He showed me again but honestly, I couldn’t see what he did differently.It looked the same as what I did.

Dr. R’s advice: “Just keep practicing”.

Two nights ago, sitting on the couch with the pumpkinhead on my lap, I caught a strong whiff of that familiar stinky fishy odor. What the heck… we only had his glands expressed ONE WEEK AGO! I carried the Boogs to the bathtub, grabbed some toilet paper and once again, tried to locate his anal glands. NOTHING. I couldn’t find them. (sigh) Boogie was so patient with me. He stood there calmly, head turned in my direction … waiting, waiting.. Three minutes later I was still squeezing and squeezing (Poor Boogie)… nothing came out.

I threw down the toilet paper and used both hands… squeezing inwards on either side of his butthole. A pale brownish fluid oozed out of his butt. OMG. We have a breakthrough! I grabbed the toilet paper and wiped it off.

Could I do this again? I have no idea. I know now to use two hands but I think I fluked it…

Do any of you do anal gland expression at home? Did you get it right the first time? I am open to advice!

P.S. No, I am not going to illustrate this one πŸ™‚

Entry filed under: Poop, Vet visit.

How NOT to greet a dog Another morning in Bronson Canyon

18 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Jim (  |  March 24, 2010 at 6:14 am

    Hi Lili, thank you very much for linking to my blog. πŸ™‚

    I’m wondering if maybe there isn’t much build up in Boogie’s glands which could be the reason you weren’t able to get much out?

    I love your artwork too, just tweeted out the link to your artwrk site. πŸ™‚

    • 2. lili  |  March 24, 2010 at 6:21 am

      Hi Jim, Thanks for commenting! I am going to link to your blog too πŸ™‚

      I don’t know how much build up there was… All I know is that the smell was overwhelming and I was compelled to do something about it.

  • 3. Jim (  |  March 24, 2010 at 7:00 am

    Cool, I’ve done the same. πŸ˜€

  • 4. Aneil  |  March 24, 2010 at 3:48 pm

    Although it is a rather disgusting post πŸ™‚ I very much liked it. I’ve seen groomers do this regularly (on TV) and also seen it on TV. I thought it was something that should be done regularly but not everybody does. Thanks for clearing up the fact that a lot of dogs don’t need it!

    My wife tried this a couple times after seeing it on tv. With nothing but the screeching dogs to show for it we both gave up after a couple attempts.

    Good job on doing that yourself though! Boogie must be such an angel to sit there patiently while you tamper with the nether regions.

    • 5. Lili  |  March 25, 2010 at 10:05 pm

      Boogie is fine with people that he knows tampering with various parts of his body. I remember one time, our vet was busy so we took him to a different vet and he expressed Boogie’s glands “internally”. The moment he stuck his fingers in, Boogie let out an ear-piercing yelp!

  • 6. Barbara and Daisy  |  March 24, 2010 at 4:12 pm

    πŸ˜€ I know the frustration! The last dog I lived with “expressed” if I pulled her tail. One day I forgot to warn the groomer about this!

    • 7. Aneil  |  March 24, 2010 at 6:39 pm

      That’s great! πŸ™‚ Hopefully you don’t have children that like pulling tails.

  • 8. Dr V  |  March 25, 2010 at 4:46 am

    Expressing “externally” is the way most groomers do it- as long as the anal gland material isn’t too thick or infected it should be fine to do it that way.

    As for the other method, hey, if you don’t have to, why do it. But I suspect it wasn’t working for you because you didn’t have your finger far enough in. Which by itself is reason enough to let someone else do the honors, right? lol.

    • 9. lili  |  March 25, 2010 at 7:12 am

      OH…. I needed to stick my fingers further in????
      Um… I think I will stick with expressing “externally” πŸ™‚

  • 10. Ashley (aka dearprudie)  |  March 25, 2010 at 4:05 pm

    Luckily I have never had to manually express Pru’s anal glands as she is quite good about taking care of that herself. But, I have learned to never leave her alone in a car (even for a minute with me in complete view) because she gets nervous and will express her glands to everyone’s delight.

    • 11. Lili  |  March 25, 2010 at 10:02 pm

      LOL! (i know, it’s not funny when it’s on your furniture)
      Yes, other dogs leave wet spots with their butts… thankfully Boogie doesn’t do this πŸ™‚

  • 12. jenfer  |  March 26, 2010 at 8:14 pm

    Gigi has the same issue. We go to the grooming place every other week or so so she can have her pedi and her bum squeeze at the same time. it looked easy when i watch them do it, but… i rather let the professional handle it. lol.

    • 13. lili  |  March 28, 2010 at 10:37 pm

      I too would rather let a pro do it… if not for the time it takes to get to the vet, and how difficult it is to get an appointment!

  • 14. Ed  |  March 28, 2010 at 6:11 pm

    Rocky is the first dog I’ve had (and first Boston) that appears that he will have the need to be expressed regularly. We learned this the hard way as he had a ruptured anal gland, so at this point I am too paranoid to do it at home/myself. At my vet, the vet techs can do it and don’t need an appointment, so I’ve just been having him checked out every 6 months when he gets his bordatella, even tho they do charge $20+ to do it, which seems a bit steep to me, but still worth the peace of mind. They told it tends to be a smaller dog issue.

    • 15. lili  |  March 28, 2010 at 10:40 pm

      Hi Ed! Every 6 months is not so bad… Yikes, $20 does seem steep!!! I think the local groomer charges about $7 but I watched him do it once… and it looked like such a struggle for him, frankly I didn’t trust the guy…

      At our vet, Dr. R wants to do the expression himself (instead of letting the vet techs do it). Boogie also has a history of anal glad infection so he wants to make sure that everything is ok back there.

  • 16. Alex V  |  June 14, 2012 at 6:16 pm

    SeriOusly!? Our dogs must be related cosmically somehow! Lol! Boogs and belles are both rescued, in training from reactivity, extremely sensitive and require a certain food, have seasonal allergies and require their anal glands expressed regularly! Crazy!!!!

  • 17. Gail Serna  |  May 12, 2015 at 5:54 pm

    I just took my dog to the groomer and she said she tried to express her anal glands and nothing came out. I find that hard to believe since I started smelling my dog etc. The last time she had her glands done was March 31 they were full back then and it is May 12 now. The groomer said nothing came out so she didn’t want to force it. Should I take her someplace else? This is a 10-pound mini pincher mix.

  • 18. pigwrassler  |  December 17, 2016 at 2:59 pm

    This is an old post but I have to comment that I am currently Exactly where you were with Boogie in your post. I have tried at least five times so far to express our BT’s glands but no success. I try to space trials every week so I don’t hurt her if she becomes sore from all my bungled attempts but she has gone to the vet twice in the meantime since she starts to scoot once a month and they just express the glands like it’s so easy (they charge which we don’t mind but it does suck time out of the day). I really hope I have a breakthrough like you do. While I would actually appreciate an illustration, I get the feeling the only way one really learns is by doing. So I’m just glad to read a post like this that assures me someone else has not found it easy and that their dog was not scarred for life while they were figuring it out. Thank you.


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