From time to time a customer will request that I express the anal glands on their pet. As a general rule, I recommend leaving the anal glands alone. Let me explain why.
The anal glands are located just inside the anus. Their purpose is to add scent to the feces. The scented feces becomes a territorial sign post for other dogs in the neighborhood. This scenting is a normal and healthy process.
Problems can arise when humans get involved. When the anal glands are healthy, expressing them can weaken the muscles around the anal glands. Weakening the muscle can make it more difficult for the dog to express the glands naturally. In addition, there is a possibility of rupturing the anal gland if too much pressure is placed on them.
Cats and dogs sometimes do have problems with anal glands. Blockage and infection are two of the more common problems. Scooting is a behavior where the pet will drag their backside across the carpet. Sometimes scooting suggests a dog is just itchy. Scooting can also suggest that something more serious is going on.
If a medical problem exists, veterinary intervention is the best approach. Since expressing anal glands without problems can create problems, its usually best to leave the anal glands alone.
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