What is the anal gland
and why it is important to express it?

Each Anal Gland constantly produces a secretion with a pungent odor unique to your dog. Along with urine, the anal secretion is in fact, your dog's "odor signature" to other dogs. Dogs, being scent orientated, identify each other by their sense of smell. Dogs will "mark their territory" with urine, which usually does not change much in odor. Because the stool's odor varies with diet, the anal gland secretes a small amount of fluid on the stool with each normal bowel movement, marking it with the dog's "odor signature."

The Anal Gland is an active working gland located just below and slightly outside the anus. In most dogs, the anal gland is self-cleaning, and does not require routine cleaning. Occasionally the glands can get clogged or blocked, causing the dog to lick at its anus or drag its rear across the floor or ground. Sometimes these actions will empty the anal gland. If the gland remains clogged, it can become infected very quickly, abscess, and can even rupture. An abscessed anal gland or ruptured anal gland is a veterinary emergency.

Normally, it is the pressure applied by regular hard, solid bowel movements that expresses the gland, but because Great Danes can have inconsistent bowl hardness, varying form hard to soft to outright runny, sometimes in a single day, the diarrhea and soft stools do not apply enough pressure to empty it, so their human companion must either perform this act or have a vet perform it. Without the anal gland being expressed your pup will experience pain discomfort and possably infection and in the case of a ruptured anal gland that is not treated´┐ŻKdeath.

How to tell if your pup has an anal gland problem

1) You smell a distinct horrible smell, even after the dog is bathed, or on the bedding where your pup has laid. This will result form a overly full anal gland that is leaking and because properly expressed anal glands do not leak but are expressed in the feces this is a sign that your pup needs assistance.

2) You pup will not quit licking his anus. Normal cleaning of the anus is just part of your puppies good hygiene, but if he obsesses over his anus and continues licking it for long periods then there is a good possibility that it is his glands that are swollen and painful.

3) Your pup scoots across the floor as if trying to wipe his hinny. Some dogs just like to be clean, so if your dog only does it after he has pooped then it is probably not a problem, but if he is doing it at all times of the day then there is probably some discomfort, form swollen glands

4) You can feel hard oval shaped glands under the skin on both sides of the anus. Correctly expressed glands will not be able to be felt.

How to express the anal gland

1. Have someone hold the dog's head or restrain the pup between your legs, making sure that he is calm before you begin.

2. With the dog standing, lift upward on the base of the tail firmly.

3. Examine the anal area. Below the rectum at 5 and 7 o'clock are the 2 glands. Feel this area with the tips of you index finger and thumb. If they are swollen, they can be expelled.

4. Place a paper towel, tissue or baby wipe covering the area to catch the secretion. Or go outside and perform this act in the yard,.... although you may get some strange looks from your neighbors....

5.Gently press below this swelling, inward and upward toward the rectum. You should see anal fluid excrete from the rectum. You can increase pressure until nothing comes out... Generally I do 4-5 passes over the glands increasing pressure each time until nothing more comes out.

Also be warned that it can ooze out slowly or expel explosively on you and your surroundings so do NOT have your face in front of the anus I speak form experience! This fluid can be white, tan, brown, black or bloody. It can be watery, granular, like pudding or dough. Guaranteed it will smell horrible.

How often must I express the gland?

Most pups will need expressing at least 2 or 3 times during their puppy stage but some may require it monthly or even weekly, depending on how active the gland is and how consistently firm the poop is.

You should check your pup at 3 months and then every month there after, even if he has no signs of a problem, until about 6 months. You should also check him every time he displays one of the symptoms even if you have just expressed his glands days or weeks before.

Even once you pup grows into a dog; you should check his glands about twice a year to prevent any problems, through out his life.

Do not express his gland unless it is swollen and can be felt.

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