"The Down & Dirty" Life as an Animal Health Technician

Life as an Animal Health Technician

Life as an Animal Health Technician is definitely exciting. There are no two days that have the same routine. Although we often get the opportunity to snuggle all the puppies and kittens we want, we also have the pleasure of preforming the less fluffy tasks that come up. It is a task that definitely takes some getting used to, but you never fully become accustomed to. This fragrant task is none other than anal glands.

It is hard to believe that such a tiny area can easily stink up a room. Anal glands are two glands that are located around the anus, typically at 4pm and 8pm if you imagine a clock when looking at your pets bum. Typically you can’t even see the small canals. These glands are what give feces their potent smell. In some pets the anal glands need to be expressed on a regular basis, if not they can become infected, which isn’t fun and can cause a lot of discomfort. If your pet is brought in for anal gland expressions (or the veterinarian recommends one at the time of an appointment), a technician or a veterinarian will escort your pet into the treatment room and someone will be the lucky recipient of the task of expressing them.

We glove up, and then insert our index finger into your pets bum. The gland is located just inside the anus, and depending on the size of your pet can feel like a grape. We then place a Kleenex or gauze over the bum (in hopes of preventing accidental target practice) to collect the discharge. Mild pressure is applied to the gland so it will express. If there is any difficulty when a technician preforms the task we often ask a veterinarian to step in and make sure things are alright – like if there is an infection or issue it can often be more difficult.  The material that comes out can have various appearances and smells, everything from toothpaste to coffee grounds can be considered “normal”. Once squeezed, we do a cleanup job on your pet’s bum with soap and then spray it with what a floral or tropical aroma in hopes to improve the smell so your furry friend can still receive cuddles at the end of the day. It can be normal for scooting of the bum to occur for a little bit after the glands are expressed due to slight irritation, but otherwise our goal is to have a happy aroma free friend for you.


by Jocelyn Husch