Not all basset hounds need their anal glands expressed on a regular basis, but more than a few do, so be prepared. Your basset hound is such a lovable goofball, you won't mind frequent vet visits for anal gland expression or doing the deed yourself.
Basset hounds tend to smell worse than other canines. Bassets' coats are oilier than most hounds', and their long ears are ideal for breeding bacteria and subsequent ear infections. They drool, which collects in their wrinkles and dewlaps. And then there are the anal glands, which add variety to basset hound odor. The Potomac Basset Hound Club diplomatically refers to anal gland odor as "unpleasant" and recommends having your vet show you the correct procedure for anal gland emptying.
The anal glands, or sacs, are located on the sides of your dog's anus. If his butt were a clock, these glands would be positioned at 4 and 8 o'clock. Lined with sweat and oil glands, these sacs secrete a smelly brown liquid every time your basset poops. The sacs of some dogs, such as bassets, are prone to developing a thicker liquid, or even a nearly solid material, that often results in anal sac impaction. Infections and abscesses can develop, causing your dog pain and nasty treatment options.
Besides the odor, symptoms of anal gland impaction include the classic "scooting" across the floor. There's nothing like watching your dog run his butt along the carpet to ensure you wear shoes or slippers indoors. More seriously affected dogs might bite at their rear ends and have difficulty with bowel movements.
Although gross, anal sac expression isn't that difficult. Before trying this on your own, let your vet show you the technique. With your dog restrained, you'll hold his tail up and gently squeeze each anal sac. The vet will show you how and where to squeeze. Have paper towels on hand to absorb the voiding contents. They could squirt, rather than ooze out, so make sure none of your body parts are in harm's way. If you can't bring yourself to perform this procedure, your groomer or vet will do it for a fee. If you and Hush Puppy are lucky, once a year at the annual checkup will suffice. If your dog suffers from regular impactions, you might need it done more regularly, such as once a month. You can opt for surgical removal of the anal sacs.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.