How to express dog anal glands safely at home?

dog with a vet

Understanding your dog’s anal glands might not top your list of favorite topics, but these small sacs tucked near their rear end can cause big trouble if they malfunction. When these glands fail to empty naturally, it can result in discomfort, irritation or even infections for your dog.

Have you ever imagined your dog experiencing difficulty while sitting or constantly licking their bottom? These are signs that something might be amiss with these glands.

Recognizing these distress signals becomes essential as they point towards potential issues with the anal glands. Fortunately the solution lies in learning how to express these glands manually or seeking professional help if necessary.

What are Dog’s Anal Glands and its Function ?

Dog’s Anal Glands, often referred to as anal sacs, reside inconspicuously near the anus, resembling two small sacs at the four o’clock and eight o’ clock positions. These sacs house glands are responsible for producing a distinctive brown, oily, fishy-smelling substance.

Under normal circumstances, these anal glands are designed to empty naturally when your dog defecates, as the pressure from passing stool triggers their release.

However, sometimes dogs encounter issues with these self-emptying mechanisms. Stress or fear can occasionally prompt a dog to involuntary express their anal glands, a phenomenon familiar to veterinary staff.

Some dogs face challenges in expressing these glands on their own, leading to issues like impaction or infection. When these glands become overly full, impacted, or infected, manual assistance becomes necessary to alleviate discomfort.

Think of these glands as your dog’s unique ‘scent business cards’. They release a specific odor that forms a distinct signature in their bowel movement, allowing dogs to ‘read’ each other’s olfactory ‘name tags’ when they sniff one another’s rear ends. It’s their way of communication and identification.

Normally, these glands secrete a liquid or creamy brownish/yellow substance during bowel movements. However, in moments of sudden fright or stress, a dog might contract its anal sphincter, leading to the release of this substance, accompanied by a strong odour.

Understanding these intricate glands and their functions sheds light on the subtle ways our dogs communicate and navigate their world, reminding us that even the seemingly ‘stinky’ aspects of pet care play a crucial role in their social interactions.

Have you ever imagined your dog experiencing difficulty while sitting or constantly licking their bottom? These are signs that something might be amiss with these glands.

How to express your Dog’s Anal Glands ?

Expressing your dog’s anal glands may seem daunting, but it can be done with care and attention to your pet’s comfort. Dog’s anal glands can be expressed both externally and internally. We will help you with both the steps, you can choose the one that is convenient for you.
1. Put on gloves and have a clean tissue, towel or a cloth ready.
2. Position yourself behind your dog.
3. Gently lift their tail and locate the small openings on either side of the anus.
4. External method – Use your fingers to apply gentle, outward pressure towards the outside of the anus until a small amount of brown fluid comes out. Internal method is to gently insert your index finger about an inch into your dog’s rectum and then apply pressure to both anal glands.
5. Be cautious and gentle to avoid causing any discomfort or injury to your pet.
6. Wipe away the released fluid with a tissue or cloth which you have handy.
7. If unsure or uncomfortable doing this yourself, seek guidance from a vet or a professional groomer.

Why do you have to express a dog's anal glands?

When your dog’s anal glands fail to evacuate as they naturally should during bowel movements, they will start facing complications. When these glands are unable to discharge their fluids properly, the stagnant liquid thickens, causing the glands to swell.

Here the retained fluid becomes a breeding ground for bacteria, leading to potential infections within the glands and this is where  expressing them at home might become a consideration.

The moment we see our pet displaying discomfort, often noticeable through signs like scooting, or relentless licking, you will get to know that is the time we need to express his anal glands. In cases where dogs are affected with chronic issues, regular expression of anal glands might seamlessly integrate into their grooming routine.

Without appropriate treatment, these complications can become worse, leading to the formation of abscesses within the anal sacs. And with time the abscess will progress, filling up the anal sacs with pus, thus obstructing the normal flow of anal fluid out of the body.

If left untreated, an anal sac abscess has the potential to rupture, resulting in a painful and messy situation for the dog. Please note managing an abscess demands immediate veterinary attention to prevent further complications and ensure proper treatment for your dog.

How often should you express your dog’s anal glands?

When you notice your dog encountering recurring problems such as anal gland infections, impactions or abscessations, it’s advisable to establish a regular schedule for expressing their anal glands. Typically, to prevent the recurrence of such issues, it’s recommended to have the dog’s anal glands expressed approximately every 3 to 4 weeks.


Striving to keep your dog healthy overall and ensuring their anal glands stay in good health, a well balanced diet packed with fiber becomes essential for promoting their anal gland health and overall grooming.

A fiber rich diet supports proper digestion and the formation of well formed stools which when expelled, exert the necessary pressure against the colon wall near the anus, aiding in the natural expression of the anal glands during bowel movements.

Moreover, maintaining your dog at a healthy weight significantly contributes to the well being of their anal glands. Overweight dogs face the challenge of excess fluid accumulation in their anal glands due to reduced pressure caused by increased body fat.