To Express or Not To Express?!


Years ago, when I was in grooming school, I was taught to always express the anal glands on dogs under 25 lbs. It was simply part of the bathing routine. After performing this stinky job on a few dogs, it became quite routine and I did not give it a second thought. It was as automatic as lathering the dog from head to tail. In the past 5 years I learned new information that has changed my mind about this common routine of expressing anal glands.

After reading an article by veterinarian Dr. Karen Becker, I became concerned that expressing anal glands was not a good practice for me (or any groomer) to continue. I spoke with my own vet, and she confirmed that while it was once recommended that all groomers express anal glands, many veterinarians have now changed their minds and are recommending that we don't do it. Each vet I spoken with, stated that expressing the glands is not only unnecessary, it will actually weaken well-functioning, self-sufficient gland musculature over time, and expressing healthy glands can stir-up problems. The anal sacs are delicate little organs that can be easily injured with unnecessary squeezing and pinching. So, groomers manually expressing a dog's anal sacs as a preventative measure can actually cause problems when there were none.

So with this new knowledge, I have decided that until we learn differently, we will not include "expression of anal glands" as part of the grooming process at Enchanted Tails Spa. We will however gently feel of the gland and alert the client if we feel a swollen gland. If the client wishes to have their dogs' glands expressed, they will now ask their veterinarian do so. A veterinarian can do a rectal exam to check and see if the glands are full. If they feel they need to be manually expressed, they can do it quite easily by lightly squeezing each gland. After all, we only want what is best for these fur-babies.