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How to Safely Express Your Dog’s Anal Glands

3 min read

Updated - Jun 16th, 2022

Is your dog scooting and whining non-stop? It may be an anal gland issue. 

We know that dog butt health is not the most fun topic for pet parents to discuss, but it’s important, and at some point in your dog’s life, taking care of their health may mean expressing their anal glands. Here’s everything you need to know about anal gland problems and how to treat them.

How to identify anal gland issues

Every dog has two anal sacs full of glands that fill up with anal gland fluid, almost like sweat. When a dog poops, their anal glands release fluid. If that fluid is clogged or otherwise doesn’t release during defecation, your dog may have a gland impaction problem. This build up of fluid is often caused by inflammation of the anal ducts, which can lead to anal gland infections and abscesses. 

Some signs and symptoms to look out for include anal secretions, soft stools, and a foul-smelling anal area. We know that dog poop never smells like a bouquet of roses, but feces with a particularly fishy smell is indicative of inflamed or infected glands.

If you see blood or pus around your dog’s anus, contact a veterinarian as soon as possible. These are signs of a more serious problem. 

How to express anal glands

Once you’ve determined that there’s an issue with your dog’s glands, your groomer or veterinarian can help with anal gland expression. If you want to express your dog’s glands from home, follow these five steps:

  1. Prepare the area. Put on a pair of latex gloves, and have ready a warm, soapy washcloth, along with vaseline or another lubricant. Your dog should be standing on all fours, ideally with someone restraining them. You should also keep a paper towel nearby.
  2. Lubricate your index finger, lift your dog’s tail, and insert your finger one inch into their rectum.
  3. Place your thumb outside of your dog’s anus, and run your thumb with your finger, until you locate the anal glands. The glands are located at the 4 and 8 o’clock positions of your dog’s anus. 
  4. Once you’ve located a gland, place a paper towel in front of the area, and apply pressure until the fluid squirts out.
  5. Once both glands are empty, use a washcloth to wash the area.

How to prevent future anal gland issues

Your dog’s diet is a huge contributor to the health of their bowel movements. Make sure that you’re buying dog food that is high in fiber, as well as avoiding ingredients that your dog may be allergic to. A low fiber diet can cause constipation, and constipation blocks anal glands. You may want to take special care with your dog’s diet if you have smaller dogs, such as  Chihuahuas, Beagles, or Poodles. These breeds are prone to anal gland issues. If your dog is having continuous or persisting anal gland issues, contact your veterinarian.

Christina is a copywriter and a loving cat mom to an adorable Bombay named Zetta.