My Dog Is Dragging Its Butt!!
Groomers have historically been taught to express anal glands as a routine part of the grooming process. As such, many of our clients come in with the expectation that we will express their pet’s anal glands on a regular basis. However, not all dogs should have their anal glands expressed, so we strive to educate our clients on this issue.
First, it’s important to understand how the anal gland is intended to work. When animals excrete fecal matter, the colon expands and the anal gland secretes a liquid with a distinct smell onto the feces. This serves as a biochemical marker for other animals who are able to “read” these anal gland smells. This helps explain our pets’ seemingly incomprehensible interest in fecal matter. When a dog’s anal glands are functioning properly, these anal glands express automatically without need for human intervention.
However, there are instances in which anal glands do not function properly (we encourage our clients to speak with their veterinarian to better understand the reasons for this). In these cases, dogs can often be seen scooting their butt along the ground or repeatedly reaching around trying to lick their hind end. If this problem does not resolve itself, your veterinarian or groomer can express the anal gland to relieve the stress on the gland. However, this should only be done when it’s evident the problem is not resolving itself since repeated human intervention can cause the anal gland to stop functioning on its own.
In summary, most dogs’ anal glands function properly, so we adhere to the rule — “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Having said that, we strongly encourage our clients to be watchful for warning signs and consult with their veterinarian to better understand their dog’s bodily functions.