How to Empty Your Dog’s Anal Sacs

If your dog suddenly takes scooting along the carpet to wipe her butt, you may be in for a real treat — the dubious pleasure of expressing your best friend’s anal sacs. Lots of licking or chewing of his rear or tail is another sign that it’s time to get rid of fluid build-up.

Anal sacs, or anal glands, carry some smelly fluid and occasionally need to be expressed, or emptied. Many dogs express them by themselves every time they poop — the sacs are around a dog’s anus — but occasionally the sacs fill with fluid and your dog needs some help to release the fluid.

Ask your vet before attempting to express your dog’s anal sacs for the first time, because the process can cause impacted anal glands and, in really bizarre instances, can rupture the sacs. And, keep in mind that expressing the anal sacs too often can lead to impacted anal glands, and failing to care for them may lead to infection.

If you're not 110% sure you want to take on the task of expressing your dog's anal glands, don't hesitate to turn the nasty job over to trained staff at your veterinary office. The cost is minimal, especially compared to the damage you could cause (and the smell you'll be exposed to).

If you insist on expressing the anal sacs yourself, here's how to do it:

  1. Suit up with a clothespin, heavy-duty rubber gloves, welder’s apron, rubber boots, and tongs so that you look like Michael Keaton changing diapers in Mr. Mom.

    Okay, you don’t need to go to these extremes, but the fluid is stinky and nasty, so wear old clothes and nose plugs if you need to.

  2. Fold several paper towels together in a huge wad.

    You want an absorbent pad to catch the liquid.

  3. Lift your dog’s tail and place the paper towels over his back side (and wonder when commercial television will pick up on this type of ad).

    Note the position of the dog’s anus in relation to the paper towels.

  4. Use your thumb and forefinger to gently squeeze at the 4 o’clock and 8 o’clock positions, using the anus as the clock face.

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    Keep your face out of the way!

  5. Throw away the paper towels.

    Disposing of the towels in a covered trash basket is a good idea.

  6. Wash and rinse your dog’s rear end really well.

    Expressing the sacs during bath time makes sense, always remembering that a clean doggie rump is a healthy doggie rump.

If your dog shows discomfort back by his butt and his anal sacs aren’t producing any fluid, he may have an impacted anal sac, which requires veterinary intervention — soon!

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