How to Express Dog Anal Glands: Tips & Tricks

Dogs’ anal gland infections are one of the most common issues pet owners see, and fortunately, they are also one of the simplest ones to deal with. 

But, if you are encountering this problem for the first time, you may not know much about how to express anal glands in dogs. Luckily, we are here to help, so read on.

How to Express Dog Anal Glands

You can opt to express your pet’s anal glands manually at home, try some natural methods, or leave it to your groomer or vet if you’re not feeling confident about doing it yourself.

If you opt for the last option, the cost to express dog glands builds up depending on how serious the case is, whether the glands are infected or not. Still, since average vet costs are $241 annually, some people may prefer to skip the vet if it’s not an emergency.

But, before you decide on that matter, you need to know how to recognize the sign of a problem. 

The main symptom of anal discomfort in your pet is scooting or dragging its bottom across the floor. Another sign of anal gland infection is seeing your dog excessively licking or even biting its anal area. 

But, your dog may not always do those things, so pay attention to some other signs too, such as:

  • Strong, fishy smell
  • Red and swollen anus
  • Blood or pus in the stool or draining down the dog’s rear
  • Consistently soft stools

If you’re still not sure, it may be best to have a professional groomer or a vet check it out — expressing healthy anal glands might cause inflammation and anal gland sacculitis.

Note that expressing anal glands on small dogs might be needed more frequently, since they are more prone to having impacted anal glands than large breeds.

Once you’re confident that this is the issue your dog is having, here are some ways you can help your furry best friend:

How to Express Your Dogs Anal Glands at Home

Before you start expressing your pet’s anal glands by yourself, you will need:

  • A pair of latex gloves
  • Paper towel
  • A water-based lubricant, petroleum, or vaseline
  • Cleaning wipes 
  • A friend or family member to help restrain the dog
  • Treats to distract your dog and reward it

Once you get everything, follow these steps to express your pet’s anal glands efficiently:

  • Emptying anal glands in large dogs is the same as with the small ones, except that while you can place a smaller breed dog on a table or counter in front of you, you will need to kneel behind if your dog is larger.
  • Have your friend or family member hold your pet still in a standing position, making sure it can’t walk away or sit.
  • If you need any additional help to calm your dog down, you can opt for using some healthy CBD dog treats.
  • Put on a pair of gloves and poke your index finger through the middle of a paper towel to form a skirt around it for protection because cleaning out dogs anal glands could be messy.
  • Apply some lubricant on your finger, lift your dog’s tail with the other hand and insert your finger about an inch into the anus.
  • Feel for pea-sized or marble-sized sacs using your index finger and thumb at 4 o’clock and 8 o’clock positions.
  • Gently squeeze the anal glands together with your fingers to release the fluid. Make sure not to use too much pressure.
  • Once the gland is empty, you should barely feel it. Move on to the other gland and repeat the process. 

Note that sometimes only one sac can be full, meaning the glands are generally emptying nicely on their own but one has become impacted or infected for some reason. 

  • When you are finished, wipe the anal area clean with some cleaning wipes.

How to Get Dogs’ Anal Glands to Express Naturally

Ideally, a dog’s anal glands will empty on their own every time it defecates. Sometimes, you will even discover that your dog expressed glands on its bed, which can happen if your pet has been experiencing anxiety, stress, or extreme relaxation.

But, if they can’t express themselves adequately, and if you want to avoid having to express them with your fingers, there are a handful of natural ways that may solve the problem:

How Often to Express Dogs Anal Glands

While some dogs will never require this, others may have recurring issues, in which case they will need their anal glands expressed a few times a year, or even monthly!

If your dog has a constant issue, the key is to keep track of the symptoms. You could set a reminder to inspect your dog’s anal glands regularly and empty them whenever they appear full. However, how often this needs to be done will vary from dog to dog.


Why do dogs’ anal glands fill up?

A dog’s anal glands can fill up for numerous reasons. The dog’s diet plays the most crucial role in anal gland problems, followed by chronic skin conditions, obesity, parasites, allergies, and genetics. 

Do humans have anal glands like dogs?

While humans do have anal glands that are similar to those described in dogs, they are considered vestigial. They have no known purpose, though some sources note they become more active when a person is in distress. 

Additionally, just like the anal glands in dogs, they can get infected and require medical intervention.


How do you know if your dog needs his glands squeezed?

Swollen anal glands are one of the main signs a pet owner can notice, as well as some rather unusual behavior of their pet, like scooting or licking its bottom excessively.

What’s more, if your pet’s anal glands are full, there could be a fishy smell coming from their bums, consistent soft stools, or even some blood indicating that the glands have ruptured.

Can I express my dogs’ glands myself?

Yes, if your dog needs its glands expressed, you can do it yourself at home. 

However, there are some less uncomfortable things you can try first, like ensuring your dog drinks enough water, eats food high in fiber, and exercises regularly.


If you are not a first-time dog owner, you are likely aware that this is just one of those less fun things you may need to do from time to time.

If this is a new topic for you, we hope this guide has helped you understand how to express dog anal glands, recognize the problem in the first place, and perhaps even prevent it in the future.


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