Most people do not pay special attention to their dog’s anal glands until there’s a problem with it. These glands, when left unexpressed, can cause not just a funky smell, but a lot of discomfort to your dog too.

How Anal Glands Work
Every dog has two small anal glands, with one being located on each side of their rectal opening. The glands hold small amounts of a brown and unpleasant-smelling fluid, and whenever Fido pees or poops, these glands – under the slightest pressure – release tiny amounts of it. This is where your pooch gets its very own unique scent that other doggies can sniff out.

Here’s a fun fact: Have you ever noticed that pooches always lift their tails up when meeting their furry friends? This is because the act of tail lifting adds pressure to the glands, and this releases their personal scent so other pooches can greet them.

What Does It Mean To Express Fido’s Anal Glands?
Expressing the anal glands refers to when you, a groomer or veterinarian manually apply pressure to the sides of the rectal opening to release excess anal gland liquid.

Most of the time, you can get this done at the groomers’ – just don’t forget to let them know!

Why Do I Need To Do This?
When anal gland expression hasn't been done and there is a buildup of excess fluids, some pooches can develop serious bacterial infections.

Signs to look out for (that anal gland expression needs to be done): 

  • Fido’s stool is very soft and mushy.

  • He keeps licking or biting at his rectal area.

  • He rubs his butt and drags it along the floor.

How To Express Them  
If you are capable of completing this task on your own, do follow these steps to ensure that your pooch’s anal glands have been expressed in the right way.

  • Prepare a warm and moist washcloth.

  • Locate Fido's anal glands by raising his tail and using your other hand, feel for two lumps (approximately at the five and seven o'clock positions) on both sides of his rectal opening. Keep in mind that one hand has to be holding the tail up at all times.

  • Using the hand that you’ve used to locate the sacs, hold the cloth over his anal opening to prevent an unpleasant squirt.

  • Apply a firm but gentle pressure to the sacs. This should cause some of the fluid to be expelled.

  • Wipe Fido’s butt clean, and you’re done!

If you notice blood or pus in the secreted liquid, it could be a sign of infection. In such situations, do bring Fido to the vet for an immediate checkup.

* The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified pet health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. Always make a pet health care decision in partnership with a qualified veterinary or pet health care professional.

*This article was updated on 17 Sept 2020. It first appeared in on 3 Aug 2016.