Impacted A/G may be Sore following Expression

Question:
I have a 5 year old female Pomeranian, who was expressed yesterday. She is still whipping her head around to get to her bum. She can’t reach there because she is soo tiny. Is she supposed to still be irritated there? And is there something I can do to help her?

Dr. Nichol:
Anal glands are a real drag. An evolutionary vestige, similar to the rear end accessories of skunks, they are standard equipment on all dog and cat models.

Your Pomeranian’s anal glands may have been impacted, meaning that the naturally stinky, nasty fluid produced inside them stopped flowing, causing them to get really full and uncomfortable. For most dogs the primary symptom is scooting (rear end dragging) but for others it’s an unbecoming licking of one’s own rear end. Any dog can be challenged with this socially awkward affliction but small breeds are over-represented. It’s even more prevalent in those who are overweight.

The paired anal glands (aka anal sacs) are located on either side of the anus in the 4 o’clock and 8 o’clock positions. By squeezing them together they can be emptied (expressed). In trained and practiced hands it’s usually a simple maneuver but it does require opposable thumbs. Thus there is no form of canine self-expression that can help.

I’m sad to know that despite having had her anal glands expressed your girl is still uncomfortable a day later. If one or both of them had stagnant fluid that congealed (neglected long enough it can take on the consistency of tooth paste or dried putty) there may have been significant force used to fully empty them. Your Pomeranian’s rear end could be mighty sore. Her current problem would be better handled by a veterinarian.  Gentle irrigation under sedation is sometimes the best course.

Your dog may feel better in a day or two without medical attention. To reduce inflammation and pain you can give 1/2 of a baby (low dose) aspirin every 8 hours for 1-2 days. Avoid Tylenol (acetaminophen), Aleve (naproxin), and Advil (ibuprofen). If the problem continues it may need treatment for infection. Infusion with an antibiotic/corticosteroid ointment could be in order. In the end, everything will be OK .