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I currently have 3 dogs and all of them will periodically scoot their butts, slam their butts hard on the ground, and drag themselves. When it happens, I know their anal glands are bothering them and they're trying to relieve the pain and itchiness which comes with an irritated gland. We have tried adding pumpkin to their diets, scoot bars and even considered a surgical option to have the glands removed.

The dogs are a 12-year-old Shih Tzu, 5-year-old Pug, and 8/9-month old Chihuahua/Yorkie mix, all with tails. Until recently they were fed Science Diet dry food twice daily (AM / PM), but we recently switched to Hill's Ideal Balance.

How do I prevent them from scooting? Are there certain dog foods (dry/wet) which might prevent the glands from becoming irritated?

  • Have you noticed any fleas? I had a dog with fleas once and they tended to congregate around the rear end; scooting could be a way to relieve the irritation from their bites. – JoshDM Oct 14 '13 at 17:10
  • @JoshDM None of our dogs have fleas so thankfully it is not that. – Taryn Oct 14 '13 at 18:14
  • @bluefeet - have they been scooting MORE or LESS or THE SAME since switching food? – JoshDM Oct 18 '13 at 21:18
  • @JoshDM I would say less, except for the new puppy she was never on the Science Diet – Taryn Oct 18 '13 at 23:33
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My dogs also scoot, which indicates it is time to express their anal glands, or "scent glands": two internal sacs with openings to the anus, each containing powerfully-scented fluid for marking their poop.

By scooting, the dogs are probably trying to express them on their own, all over your carpet, which is a delight to try and remove. I find that once their glands are expressed, future scooting is prevented. Glands re-fill over time, so you might need to express them periodically, though expression should also happen naturally when they poop.

Do consider that if periodic manual expressions are scheduled, there should be less to express in future... expressions. Express. Of note, @KatePaulk from the comments below recommends (and I concur) that periodic expression is a good thing to prevent potential gland impaction / blockage, which could cause them to fill to bursting level, a situation no one wants to deal with.

"So," you ask, "that's all great about expressing the glands, but how do I actually undertake the task of expressing them?"

Expressing anal glands is a horrific process you can pay your vet or groomer to suffer through for you, or you can save a few bucks and do it yourself in the privacy of your own home (hooray!). I'll explain the process below, as this is how I handle my dachshunds, who are not large dogs (with large glands, containing lots to express). Certainly, there are videos I can link to, but nothing can quite relate the experience across as a step-by-step process does, so hold onto your seats, no pun intended.

Disclaimer: I am not a veterinarian, but I have done this at least one time before. Safety not guaranteed. Must bring your own equipment.

  1. Before you begin, make sure your fingernails are clipped short or have dulled tips, otherwise you might scratch your dog.
  2. Warn your household what you're about to do, so they don't walk in on you.
  3. Acquire a box of tissues or a roll of toilet paper, and a way to moisten them, like a small bowl of water or a sink.
  4. Trap yourself with the dog in a small room, preferably a hall bathroom or a shower.
  5. Wash your hands. This will not be the first time you will do this step today.
  6. If you must, put on some disposable surgical gloves.
  7. Turn on some smooth jazz and put on a nose-clip if you're a girly man or an unmanly girl.
  8. Place your dog under your preferred arm, head towards your back, with your hands aimed towards its rear end.
  9. Point / aim the rear of the dog towards a wall you can sacrifice wipe down, like the tiled wall of a shower.
  10. Place up to 4 ply of tissue / toilet paper in your hand, lift the dog's tail, and cover its anus with the tissue and your hands, in that order.
  11. Feel with your fingertips on either side of the anus; there should be a soft lump to the immediate side. This is, hopefully, the gland. There are two of them, one on each side.
    • That means you'll have to do this twice. Or more if you have more than one dog. Joy!
  12. Place your thumb to the immediate side of the sphincter, and your index finger on the edge of the gland, probably anywhere from a half inch to an inch apart depending on the size of the dog. Cover with your tissue.
  13. You can chance observing the blessed event, but you might want to wear goggles or a mask in the event you spray yourself.
    • For crap's sake, keep your mouth shut tight if you try to look!
    • While it may seem like you can control the direction of the upcoming spray, the potential splash zone will be uncontrollably random, not unlike jamming a spoon into a grapefruit.
  14. GENTLY press the index finger against the side of the lump, pressing towards the sphincter. At the same time, use the thumb to roll very slightly away from the sphincter, opening up the sphincter hole very slightly; this pressure should allow the gland to empty. You may hear a whooshing sound and feel a hot spray inside the tissue. The stench should momentarily hit you like a brick. Stay strong and try to keep your lunch down.
  15. Some dogs (MY DOGS) find gland juice to be a delicacy and may try to turn to lick. Belay that dog from turning and stay the course, son!
  16. Continue to gently rub and lightly squeeze until you feel like there's not much left. Then, try again because there will be some left. You can switch out the tissue.
  17. At any time during steps 13-15, switch sides and milk that butt till all the stink juice is expressed.
    • Expression can look like anything from clear to yellowish, greenish, brownish, and possibly with little flecks in it.
  18. Gently wipe the dog butt clean with tissues. Wet some tissues down and do it again.
    • Sometimes I wipe wet tissues on a gentle soap (like Dove), clean the dog butt, then wipe again with new, clean, soap-less tissues. This helps get rid of lingering stench.
  19. Flush those tissues / toilet paper immediately, or put them in a plastic zip-lock bag because ew. Try not to clog the toilet.
  20. Kick the dog out of the room.
  21. Wash your hands! Using soap should help remove any errant gland fluid which has embedded its stench in your skin. See, told you we'd wash our hands again.
  22. Get the next dog and repeat.

Good luck!

  • 11
    This.. This is.. Wow. – Nick Oct 12 '13 at 13:37
  • 2
    This is a great answer and I have done this before. However, we have been unlucky and at least some of our dogs need the glands expressed more than we would EVER want to do ourselves. I am wondering if there are any dietary changes that we can make to prevent the glands from getting full in the first place, or that would make their poop firm enough the glands would express during the act of pooping. – Taryn Oct 12 '13 at 14:08
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    Sweet mother of God. Thank God I don't have to do this :O – Madara Uchiha Oct 12 '13 at 14:25
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    @JoshDM I didn't include in the OP but we actually did remove the glands on the Pug. She needed them expressed every few days. We have been extremely lucky she did not have issues after the removing them, however she still does sometimes scoot. I don't know if it in their nature with itchy butts but she doesn't have anything to express. I posted this question because while we have issues with our dogs, I know this is a common issue for many dog owners. And your answer is great help on how to solve it at home in the most disgusting way possible!! :) – Taryn Oct 12 '13 at 14:39
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    There's only one thing I'd add - if someone doesn't do this there's a chance of the gland(s) bursting, which is insanely stinky, horribly painful, and runs the risk of other complications. Your dog/cat having a massive stinky bloody crater on their butt is worse than dealing with blockages (had this happen a to cat who was 16+ years old at the time. She recovered. I'm not sure I did!) – Kate Paulk Oct 24 '13 at 18:04
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Scooting can also be a symptom of worms this should be considered as well as anal gland issues when scooting behavior is noticed.

Gland cleaning exercises and procedures as described by @JoshDM, can be helpful for occasional gland issues. Surgical removal of glands is an option, but should only be undertaken after serious consideration. These glands play an important part in dog to dog communication and as you have 3 dogs, serious complications in the relationship are possible.

  • 1
    I was told by my vet that if you have the glands surgically removed, it could lead to potential pooping problems with the dog. For me, that defeated the purpose for removing the glands, so I have never considered it since. – JoshDM Oct 12 '13 at 1:26
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    Thankfully, we know that all 3 of them don't have worms. They have been tested by the vets. As I comments on JoshDM's answer, we actually did remove the glands on the Pug. Her glands needed to be expressed every few days and it was incredibly difficult to manage. We did take the decision very serious and knew the risks before doing so, we were very lucky to have no issues with her after it. – Taryn Oct 12 '13 at 14:42
  • @bluefeet - since the removal, does the Pug continue to scoot? – JoshDM Oct 18 '13 at 21:19
  • @JoshDM It is very rare that she would scoot, but on occasion she does like maybe once every 3-4 months but of course she has nothing back there. – Taryn Oct 18 '13 at 23:34
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This is a hot button issue in the Vet and Groomer communities right now. If your dog is having scooting and anal gland issues PLEASE do not express the glands at home. Watch this video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yA9SeHAEyQ4

This is Dr Karen Becker. She has a great explanation of anal gland issues, how they need to be treated, and now YOU as an owner, and ME as a pet groomer should NOT be expressing glands. If your dog is having issues, there is a good chance it is an underlying medical condition such as allergies, a gland is turned the wrong way, the gland is obstructed, inflamed, ruptured, etc. The analogy I like to use with my clients is that the anal glands are glands, just like your thyroid, or your pituitary. We don't go around squeezing our neck to make our thyroid work do we? If it isn't working right we see a doctor.

I have seen dogs that have had their owner try and externally express the gland, only to end up at the emergency vet paying a lot of money to surgically extract a ruptured gland. Its not pretty. Pet groomers have been doing anal glands for decades but no one ever questioned why until recently, when anal glands became a huge issue for many of them. I haven't expressed an anal gland in over 4 years, with over 500 dog clients. If I see an issue, we first talk about diet, which leads to:

I would seriously take a look at your dog's food. Science Diet and Hills are loaded with junk.

http://www.dogfoodadvisor.com/

is a great resource to see what ingredients are in the food. Keep in mind that allergies and intolerances to ingredients cause inflammation in the bowel and in the rectum/anus area. Wheat, corn, soy, chicken are all things that cause reactions in large numbers of dogs. I do a lot of nutrition counselling for my clients and it's always our #1 place to start regarding ongoing health issues.

One last thing: this is from me the business owner. Another reason I do not do glands and I strongly discourage owners from doing it as well is that you can cause major damage to the gland if you squeeze to hard or in the wrong area. Vets do an internal expression, sticking their fingers inside the rectum. This lets them feel for malformations, blockage, gland location, things that I can't tell but doing external. I do not to glands for 1- liability it would cause if I ruptured a gland and 2- the more the gland is manipulated, the less it will work on its own thereby becoming a cyclical problem. Sure I could charge people a ton of $$$ to express glands, but your dogs health is worth more to me than the couple bucks I could make doing something I am not certified to do.

Sorry, that turned into kind of a rant, but I love my clients and I only want what's truly best for them.

protected by Community Dec 30 '14 at 11:15

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