All dogs have two glands located on either side of their rectal opening – these are called anal glands. They have two functions; to provide lubrication during a bowel movement and also, they contain a scent that is unique to each dog. Hence this fluid is essential for marking territory. Unfortunately, it can be normal for you to smell this fluid if your dog gets startled or sometimes when greeting another dog. Typically, these glands empty at least partially with every bowel movement. When they do not empty properly, they can become impacted which causes your dog discomfort. Usually, you will be alerted to this by your dog all of a sudden rubbing his rectum across the floor or spending more time licking at his rectum. This would be a sign that he or she needs to have the glands emptied. If the glands remain impacted, bacteria can invade the glands and cause infections and even abscesses.

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Should I drain my dog’s anal glands at home?

We don’t recommend that you drain your dog’s glands at home for a few reasons. First, if you are expressing the glands incorrectly, it can be very uncomfortable for your dog, and you can even risk rupturing the gland. The other concern we have is that your dog may, in fact, have an infection in the gland that may go unnoticed if you are expressing them yourself. Having said that, if your veterinarian does recommend regular anal gland expression and you are game to try it at home we can certainly teach you how to perform this often not so pleasant task safely. Be aware, though; it might be messy and stinky!!

If my dog scoots on the carpet a lot, does this mean their anal glands are impacted?

It doesn’t necessarily mean their glands are impacted but it could. If your dog is often scooting, we recommend an exam to ensure the health of the anal glands, along with the comfort of your dog.

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