How to Express a Dog's Anal Glands

by Susan Paretts
If not expressed properly, a dog's anal glands can become impacted.

If not expressed properly, a dog's anal glands can become impacted.

Dog of breed dachshund on a chain as a sentry dog image by Dzmitry Lameika from

A dog has two scent glands located on each side of his rectum. These glands, also called anal sacs, contain an unpleasant-smelling liquid used to mark territory. When a dog produces a bowel movement, the pressure against the sacs in the rectum should release the fluid naturally. Sometimes the glands don't empty properly and become filled with anal gland discharge, leading to itching and irritation. A dog with clogged or swollen anal glands will scoot along the floor or lick incessantly at the area. To relieve this irritation, you can express the glands manually yourself.

Step 1

Place your dog in a bathtub or sink, depending on his size, to prevent the anal gland discharge from getting on carpets or furniture. The oily, brownish fluid is not only extremely unpleasant smelling, leaving a lingering odor that is difficult to remove, but it can also stain fabrics.

Step 2

Put on disposable latex gloves. You can throw these gloves away after they come into contact with the anal sac fluid.

Step 3

Place a small amount of petroleum jelly on your index finger and insert it into the opening of the rectum to feel each anal gland. The glands are located at the 5 and 7 o'clock positions, respectively, and are usually the size of a bean or slightly bigger, depending on how much fluid each contains.

Step 4

Squeeze each gland separately between your thumb and index finger, with the index finger inside the rectum and the thumb on the outside of the rectum. Squeeze with an upward, gentle motion. The glands have openings near the top of the rectum, so squeeze in this direction. Hold a paper towel over the area with your other hand to catch any discharge that erupts. Continue to squeeze the glands until little fluid comes out.

Step 5

Wipe down the area with a damp paper towel to remove any excess brownish or greenish discharge. Remove as much of the fluid as you can with the paper towel.

Step 6

Fill the tub or sink with a few inches of warm water and wet your dog's backside. Wash the area around the anus with a small amount of dog shampoo to rinse and clean away any excess discharge. Rinse well with a handheld shower attachment or kitchen sink sprayer. Dry the area with a clean paper towel.

Items You Will Need

  • Disposable latex gloves
  • Petroleum jelly
  • Paper towels


  • The anal discharge may be under pressure, so use caution when squeezing each gland. Hold a paper towel over the area to prevent the fluid from flying out.
  • Express the anal glands right before regular bathing to make cleanup easier. In this case, wash the entire dog after expressing the glands.
  • A dog with loose stool or diarrhea is more likely to need his anal glands expressed because the stool is not firm enough to empty the glands naturally when passing through the rectum.
  • Wipe the area with a pre-moistened infant wipe in dogs with sensitive skin, instead of a dampened paper towel.


  • If, when you express the anal discharge, you notice blood or the fluid has a paste-like texture, take your dog to a veterinarian. Your dog may have an infection of the anal glands, which requires medical attention.
  • Don't continue to squeeze your dog's anal glands if nothing comes out of them or the dog appears to be in pain. Sometimes the fluid in the glands becomes very thick and unable to be expressed, even developing an abscess. This requires veterinary treatment or surgery.

Photo Credits

  • Dog of breed dachshund on a chain as a sentry dog image by Dzmitry Lameika from

About the Author

Based in Las Vegas, Susan Paretts has been writing since 1998. She writes about many subjects including pets, finances, crafts, food, home improvement, shopping and going green. Her articles, short stories and reviews have appeared on City National Bank's website and on The Noseprint. Paretts holds a Master of Professional Writing from the University of Southern California.