Anal sacs: What are they and how are they expressed?

Article written by Nancy Settecasi

Anal sacs (or "anal glands") are two small glands, one on each side of your pet's anus. Anal sacs get impacted with a foul smelling substance which in turn, causes great discomfort to your dog. Your dog will try to empty the anal sacs by "scooting" or "dragging" his bottom on the ground in an attempt to gain some relief. Your dog may also lick the anal area or chase his tail. These are all telltale signs that your dog is in need of have his anal sacs expressed.

Anal sacs can be expressed either internally or externally.

To express the sacs internally, wearing a rubber glove, insert your index finger into the anus and turn it to the right. Proceed to squeeze the gland between the index finger and the thumb. Keep a tissue by the anus as you perform this procedure in order absorb the fluid as it is excreted. Then you would repeat the same procedure on the left side of the anus.

To express the anal sacs externally, place a tissue over the anus (to absorb the secretion), then wearing rubber gloves, use your thumbs to press on both sides of the anus simultaneously. This forces the fluid out of the anal sacs. If it has formed into a paste, this method may not be effective.

If your dog continues to "scoot" or "drag" his bottom, he may need additional anal sac expression. In some cases, a dog may need this procedure performed a few times in order to completely empty the anal sacs. On the other hand, your dog may be suffering from a different medical condition and would require a visit to the vet.

As with any condition left untreated, impacted anal sacs can develop into a more serious problem. Anytime you find your dog "rescooting," it may be time to empty the anal sacs again. Each dog has different needs. Your dog may never need anal sac expression but it's a good idea to educate yourself on these matters if the occasion arises.

If the description of this procedure put a lump in your throat (as it did mine), you most definitely have the option of having your vet take care express the anal sacs for a fee. A fee, I feel, is well worth the money.

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