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Anal Glands in Dogs – What You Need to Know?

As a dog owner, it must not be uncommon for you to find anal problems in your pet. Sometimes these problems take an ugly turn when infection occurs. It is extremely painful when their anal glands get affected. To cure the situation, you must aid your dog manually or get professional help. Here we covers the details of anal glands in dogs and how to express dog anal glands.

Why Do Dogs Have Anal Glands?

Ever wondered why do dogs have anal glands? All dogs, whether male or female, have anal glands on either side of their anus. Each dog has a unique smell, and these glands produce it. You must have seen dogs sniffing each other’s butts. However weird it is for humans to understand that activity, it is a common practice among dogs. They identify their friends and enemies through the smell. It is also helpful in marking the territory. This is the reason why dogs have these glands.

What Are Dog Anal Glands?

Now that we know the role of these glands, it will be easier to talk about their anatomy and understand what are anal glands. The size of these scent glands varies according to the size of your dog. Lying on either side of the anus, they can be as small as a pea or as large as a kidney. They can be located between the smooth muscle of the rectum and the external anal sphincter.

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Anal glands produce a foul-smelling liquid and secrete it when the dog poops. This results from the compression of these glands against feces by the anal sphincter. It becomes a problem when they are unable to get secreted. If the liquid stays in the sac for too long, it becomes thick and painful. The longer It stays in the glands, the thicker it gets and turns even more excruciating. This situation then triggers further problems associated with anal glands and excretion. 

Cause of Anal Gland Problems in Dogs

Several situations give rise to anal gland problems in dogs. The conditions which are more prone to gland inflammation are as follows:

  • Obesity
  • Old age
  • Chronic dermatitis
  • Smaller breeds
  • Loose motions or diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Soft stool
  • Poor diet or low-fiber diet
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Dogs that suffer from food or environmental allergies
  • The location of glands is not correct
  • Mites infestation
  • Genes (in some cases)
  • A tumor (rarely)

Symptoms of Blocked Anal Glands in Dogs

Dogs communicate this discomfort with several signs and symptoms. Here is the list of symptoms of blocked anal glands in dogs that you should keep a vigilant eye on: 

  • Licking rectum
  • Unable to sit
  • Pus or blood on the ground
  • Dog scooting (When dogs drag themselves on their butts, it is called scooting.)
  • Licking or chewing tail or hip area
  • Bloody poop
  • Swollen anus
  • Vomiting
  • Difficulty during defecation
  • Howling or crying when excreting
  • Not pooping often
  • Foul odor
  • Bleeding (when the glands rupture)
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When the duct of release is blocked, the liquid accumulates in the sac. It provides microorganisms with a perfect area to breed. These impacted glands can produce pus-filled abscesses. Pus, along with the liquid already present in the glands, rupture causing a nasty spill of sticky substance and blood. 

How To Express Dog Anal Glands?

The condition can cause excessive discomfort and pain to your dog. Therefore, it requires some manual help to express your pet’s glands. Most people prefer going to a vet to get this procedure done. But, if your dog is more prone to such a situation, you might only want to visit a vet sometimes, and it will be easier to learn the process yourself. Dog anal gland cleaning is a simple process.  Materials that are required to complete the process are: 

  • Disposable gloves (plastic or latex)
  • Paper towel
  • Lubricant or Vaseline
  • Warm washcloth
  • You can use nose plugs because you will expose yourself to fishy smell from dogs. Getting an anti-odor spray could be the best decision. 

How to Clean a Dog’s Anal Glands?

Want to know how to clean a dog’s anal glands? Below are the steps you need to follow to empty the anal sacs of your dog to relieve its pain and discomfort. 

  1. Make a thick pile using several paper towels. It will be used to absorb the liquid emptied from the glands. Now wear your gloves and ready up. 
  2. Ensure to keep the anti-odor spray around you and wear old clothes so that no accidents affect your normal clothes. 
  3. You will need to pick your dog’s tail and place the pile of papers on his rear end. You can poke your fingers through the towels so that no space is left unguarded when trying to strain the glands. 
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  1. Position it well to avoid spillage and dirtying of the area around it. If your positioning is imperfect, you might do more work cleaning the ground.
  2. Apply lube on your finger and thumb. You can take help from someone and ask them to ensure that the towels are correctly placed.
  3. You will have to use your thumb and index finger to squeeze in the 4 and 8 o’clock directions. Don’t worry; this is not very painful for them unless there is anal gland infection. In any case, this will be uncomfortable for the dog. 
  4. If you are new to this process, it will take a few tries before successfully emptying the glands. You can empty the glands one by one if using both hands is precarious in this situation. 
  5. Dispose of those paper towels in the trash and wash your dog’s rear wall. Refrain from scrubbing too much. And spray an abundant amount of spray in the room. Make certain that the spray is dog-friendly. 

Things to Know Before Expressing Dogs anal Gands

Before you follow these steps, check whether the area is extremely tender or swollen. If yes, try not to take matters into your hand.

  • An average amount of swelling is expected. Even so, do not squeeze too hard. 
  • Take help from someone, as the entire ordeal is a messy process. 
  • Your dog may be producing brown discharge and pus, which means there are infected dog glands and could be painful. 
  • Refrain from going about it aggressively. If you cannot milk them properly, leave it to the experts.
  • Do not express the glands too often. Most dogs do not require external help. You can assist them in rare cases but only regularly follow this routine as it might cause ruptured anal gland tissues.
  • Do not try to express them externally as the secretion gets pushed inside the body, and it causes infection not only in the glands but also in the adjoining area.
  • Keep a check on the condition for about 4-6 weeks to guarantee that the situation is not repeating itself. 
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How to Help Dog Express Glands Naturally?

If you are worrying on how to help dog express glands naturally, there are numerous remedies to relieve your dog of the distress that his anal glands might be causing him. 

Calendula Compress

All you need is a teaspoon of sea salt, 8 drops of calendula mixture, and a cup of warm water. Mix the sea salt with water in a bowl and add the specified number of drops. Empty this bowl on a towel and use the towel on the affected area. This helps reduce inflammation and makes the glands return to their normal size and drain naturally. You will have to repeat this process every hour until the secretion comes out. 

Silica 6C

It is available in general stores and online. You will require a glass of filtered water and 3-5 pellets of Silica 6C. Do not touch the pallets or use tap water, as the healing formula may get contaminated. Add the pellets to the water, keep stirring nonstop for half a minute and pour it into your pet’s drinking bowl. In the faster process, you will have to put some amount of the mixture on your dog’s gums. You can use a dropper or a normal spoon to do so. Stir the mixture before each dose, and do not feed anything to your puppy 20 minutes before and after the dosage. 

How to Prevent Anal Gland Issues in Dogs?

Eliminating the causes of the issue can help prevent critical conditions. If you do not like to visit the vet very often and do not enjoy expressing dogs anal glands, follow these preventive measures:

  • Weight loss is one of the most important prevention methods. An obese dog faces many problems on top of the anal gland issue. It will be an overall improvement in the health of your pet.
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  • Taking care of the diet is another significant point in eliminating uncomfortable instances.
    • By upgrading fiber intake in the diet, you will be helping your dog have a healthy gut and easy poop. 
    • Omega 3 supplements for dogs are always helpful in making a perfectly balanced diet. It can also help in reducing swelling, inflammation, and irritation.
    • Pumpkins play an important role. You can give your dog some canned pumpkin or non-flavored pumpkin seeds and cook pumpkin at home. 
    • In some cases, professionals advise the intake of fish oils. 
    • Fermented food or vegetables or any probiotic supplement would be highly beneficial.
    • Sometimes, protein-based food is a good addition. But consult an expert to make sure that no allergic reaction is triggered. 
    • A raw diet with some inclusion of bone is effective. 
  • Take your dogs on regular walks and keep them active.
  • Make them drink plenty of water throughout the day. 
  • Have a conversation with the groomer and ask them not to do anal gland express externally and/or frequently.
  • Identify and eradicate the underlying problems.


We have learned through that anal gland issues in dogs do not occur on their own. It is the result of an underlying problem in health or lifestyle. For better treatment, you must figure out the cause behind the problem and then follow the above steps to provide a comfortable pooping experience.