Anal Gland Expression for Dogs

Dog Anal Gland


When it comes to caring for our dogs, many pet parents understand the importance of traditional grooming, nutrition and exercise, but anal gland expression… well that topic sometimes comes as a surprise. Impacted anal glands can be a painful experience for a dog, and it’s important for dog parents to recognize the signs and symptoms and know what to do should the problem occur.

Petco offers anal gland expressions as part of a full-service dog bath or bath with haircut or an add-on grooming option.

Dog anal gland expression: identifying the need and causes

Anal glands serve an important function in the social strata of canines. Also referred to as anal sacs, these scent glands are located on either side of a dog’s anus and release an oily substance that, to humans, has an unpleasant fishy smell. For dogs, however, it’s so much more.

When dogs meet and sniff around each other’s rear ends, the scents released by their glands reveal information about their hormonal status. Dogs may also express their anal sacs when they are scared as a reactionary response. Expressing their anal glands also allows a dog to leave a trail of their scent behind to stake claim to their territory in their home or yard.

How do you know if your dog needs their anal glands expressed?

Some of the more common signs that trouble is brewing include:

  • If you notice your dog scooting their bum along the carpet or on the grass by pulling themselves forward with their front legs, they are probably trying to help with the release of secretion buildup in their anal glands, or to help stop the itch that can come with impacted anal glands
  • Signs of painful pooping, like straining or whining while trying to defecate
  • Blood and/or pus either in their poop or left behind from wherever they may have been sitting
  • Extreme licking or being protective of their anal area
  • An unpleasant and ongoing fishy smell coming from your dog
  • The glands will appear swollen when viewed or when you run your hand over the area

Expressing dog anal glands

A normal bowel movement is usually all your dog needs to sufficiently express and empty their anal sacs. Additionally, most groomers perform anal gland expression as part of their traditional grooming routines, but it’s always a good idea to ask if it’s included. Petco offers anal gland expressions as part of a full-service dog bath or bath with haircut or an add-on grooming option.

What causes impacted anal glands in dogs

When anal glands are not emptied properly during a bowel movement or regular grooming sessions, secretions can build up, impacting the glands and potentially causing further issues.

Certain conditions and outside factors can increase your dog’s odds of having impacted anal glands. These include food and environmental sensitivities, abnormal thyroid hormone levels, bacteria, yeast and chronic skin infections, among other things. Certain breeds, including Cocker Spaniels, Beagles and Chihuahuas, are also predisposed to anal gland problems. If your dog is among these breeds or already suffers from the conditions mentioned above, it’s a good idea to pay extra attention to their anal glands to ensure they are functioning and expressing properly.

If left unattended, impacted anal glands in dogs can become quite a problem. They’re not only uncomfortable and itchy for the dog, but they can become abscessed and even rupture when not handled properly. It’s best to leave the treatment of an impacted anal gland up to a trained veterinarian who can ensure the glands are expressed thoroughly and properly to avoid any further trauma.

If you notice an ongoing issue with your dog and impacted anal glands, be sure to discuss the problem with your veterinarian, who can help you come up with potential treatment ideas to help alleviate the issue.