For those of you who think that loving up on puppies and kitties all day long is what I do, I need to fill you in on some not so glamourous that happens “behind the scenes” at the Vet’s office. I still absolutely love my job and enjoy going to work every day. But, there are times when I would “rather not” perform the task at hand. Hand being the operative word here.
There are obvious things that go on in the Vet’s office. Much like going to your own doctor, there are examinations and vaccinations and “procedures”. The “procedure” part of this includes x-rays, spay/neutering, wound cleaning, stitches/staples, nail trims and AG expressions.
Pets can also be dropped off for a “Spa Day” which includes bathing, nail clipping, ear cleaning, sometimes a trim (A little off the top please!) and AG expression. I can perform pretty much all of these but am still in the “learning phase” when it comes to expressing the anal glands. (Hence..”task at hand”..because hands play an important part in the process.)
I am determined to get better at all the things I, as a member of the staff, should be able to perform. With that in mind, my new goal is to be able to master the are of anal gland expression.
Those of you who have pets may have seen them “scooting” along on the floor or over you very clean and expensive carpet. Said pet, more times than not, is trying on its own to express anal gland material from its rear end. Some times the glands get blocked or the material gets too thick to easily come out on it’s own. That is where the experienced Veterinary Assistant or Groomer comes in handy. (No pun intended…Well maybe a little)
When little Muffy/Scruffy (or sometimes BIG Muffy/Scruffy) has difficulty…they should get the needed assistance in “feeling” the relief they are desparately searching for by dragging their butts. The only way to do that is to release the material. Otherwise, you could end up (get it…end up) with an impacted or infected gland or even a rupture…These are way worse than the procedure I am about to describe.
In order to release anal gland fluid, one much first get the doggie/kitty up on the table to examine the rear end. The anal glands sit at 4:00 and 8:00 around the anus. Most of the time, you should not be able to “feel” them with an external examination. If you can “feel” them, they probably need to be expressed.
Let me digress here and say that 99.9% of all dogs and cats do not have an issue with their glands. They sit on either side of the “hiney hole” and are expressed when Muffy/Scruffy “does his business” and takes a poop. This said poop presses on the glands which are then expressed as the poop evacuates. That is whay all dogs and lots of cats go around smelling poop they find in the grass…That lets them know “who” has been there because the gland material smell is unique to each animal. (We with our puny noses just smell “yuck”.. Each cat or dog can smell the difference and know exactly who took a dump in their territory)
Anyway, back to the matter. In order to express the glands manually, you can first try from the outside by finding the glands on either side of the “hiney hole” and pushing up with a gentl but firm movement. Success will be met with a fluid coming out of the hiney which smells “really fishy” and really strong.
If the outside part does not work…then you have to go inside to get results. First you must don a surgical glove on the “operating hand”. Then you “lube” your index finger. Remember, we already have the doggie/kitty on the table with his/her rear facing you. Said index finger is then “inserted” up the butt of the animal.
The glands are still at 4:00 and 8:00. Depending on the size of the animal and how full the glands are, they can feel like anything from a really firm pea to a cherry tomato. Said index finger needs to locate the back of the gland and with gauze or something in you hand to catch the fluid, you gently squeeze from the back of the gland to the front to release the fluid. If you do not have something in place to catch this fluid, you will be wearing it. And, believe me, you do not want to wear it…It is very, very stinky! Just read “How Many People” that I wrote several months ago to learn about how fun this experience can be.
Most animals…heck most people…will not stand still for you to do this procedure. (No people don’t have scent glands in their hiney.) So, you need an assistant. Most of the time, so far, I have been the assistant. Now, I plan to get “certified” in ag expression…
Most doggies/kitties will thank you after the procedure is finished. It is such a “pressure off” if you get what I mean. So, before you sign up for the glamourous job of Vet Assistant, just remember and ask yourself, “Am I willing to stick my finger up and animal’s butt?”