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To Pluck Or Express, That Is The Question

There’s no polite way to introduce these topics: anal glands and ear plucking. As groomers we all know that for many years, we have been either expressing anal glands and/or plucking ears. But the question is now, are groomers still carrying out these services?? and under the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966, should we??


Anal Glands

Healthy anal glands empty naturally when a dog goes to the toilet. However, some dog’s glands become blocked. Blocked glands can be uncomfortable, irritating and painful which can cause a dog to scoot their bottom on the floor, bite their backend or foul, unpleasant odour.


The RCVS have stated "External expression of the para-anal sacs is a procedure that may be undertaken occasionally by competent owners, although they should have had the procedure demonstrated and explained to them by a veterinary surgeon. If a dog groomer was to provide this service without it being delegated by a veterinary surgeon on a case-by-case basis, they would likely be straying into diagnosis, which would be a breach of the Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966, and if suffering resulted, also a potential offence under the Animal Welfare Act 2006".


So, expressing should only ever be done, occasionally, if a veterinary surgeon demonstrates the procedure to a groomer. If you, as a professional groomer has examined the anal glands and deem them as full/blocked, it is recommended that you inform the owner to seek veterinary attention. The vet may prescribe anti-biotics or express them.


Ear plucking

Once again, is plucking ears crossing over to a diagnosis and should this procedure only be performed by a veterinary surgeon?



We have all seen ears clogged with hair and wax. And it is so tempting to get your fingers right in there to pull out the hair. But are we entering a body cavity to get all the hair out of the ear canal? Veterinary surgeons recommend that plucking the hair from the outer edge of the ear with your fingers is adequate but using instruments to get the hair further down the ear canal could cause further ear problems and possibly damage. Again, if you have any concerns with the dog's ears, seek veterinary attention.


Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966

The Veterinary Surgeons Act can be confusing at times and understanding what we as groomers are allowed or not allowed to do.

Registered veterinary surgeons can:

  • Diagnosis of diseases and injuries to animals
  • Tests performed on animals for diagnostic purposes
  • Give of advice based upon such diagnosis
  • Perform medical or surgical treatment of animals
  • Performance of surgical operations on animals

Groomers can:

  • Give emergency first aid for the purpose of saving life or relieving pain or suffering.

Catherine Clark - EQA/TEQA

December 2022


  • This is great to have as an easy reference for groomers & owners – thank you 🐾

  • Thank you so much for posting


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