How to treat a dog’s impacted anal glands at home

How to treat a dog’s impacted anal glands at home

Health & Safety

All dogs have two anal glands, one on either side of the rectum, which are commonly referred to as the anal sacs. These are scent glands, and are the main reason why dogs, when greeting each other, will circle each other sniffing their butts, as the scent signature of each dog’s anal glands are unique, and tell the other dog a lot about them. The scent glands themselves contain a particularly foul-smelling liquid, which is naturally released by the dog when they have a bowel movement, and generally, this process happens just fine and the anal glands take care of themselves.

However, some dogs are apt to suffer from impaction of the anal glands, where the glands do not empty properly when the dog has a bowel movement, leading to them becoming clogged up and impacted with the harboured discharge. This leads to soreness, irritation and itching, which are all unpleasant and annoying for your dog.

Expressing the anal glands, or manually stimulating them to release their load and relieve an impaction is a fairly simple procedure, and one that all vets, veterinary nurses and dog groomers are adept at carrying out. However, you can also express your dog’s anal glands at home if you know what your are doing, saving yourself the cost of paying a professional to do it for you. Expressing the anal glands is not for the faint-hearted though, and the smell alone is often enough to turn people with weak stomachs rather sick!

If you think that you are up to the challenge, read on to learn about how to express impacted anal glands at home.

How can you tell if your dog’s anal glands are impacted?

If your dog is prone to developing regular impactions, you will usually already know about this, and will likely have to have had the procedure carried out before. Symptoms to be on the lookout for include scooting along the floor, obsessively licking the area around the glands, and generally showing irritation or discomfort around the back end.


Decide where you want to perform the procedure; outside or in a bathtub or sink that can easily be cleaned up and sterilised afterwards is your best bet. Make sure that you have old towels, Vaseline or another lubricant, adequate means of restraint for your dog and a muzzle if required, as expressing the anal glands can cause discomfort that may potentially cause your dog to snap.

Finally, you will also need a pair of disposable gloves, as the secretions from the anal glands are oily, smelly, and tend to stick around on your hands even after washing.

How to express the anal glands of the dog

Make sure that your dog is firmly secured to both keep them still and stop them from snapping at you before you start, and that you have your gloves on!

  • Look at the back end of the dog, and observe the area of the anal glands; these will look like two little darker patches of skin and hair to the left and the right of the anus respectively, at the five o clock and seven o clock positions. It is important to know this, so that you know what you are aiming for.
  • Lubricate one gloved finger, and insert it gently into your dog’s anus, then feel around until you find the location of the first gland you wish to treat. Then, using that finger on the inside of the rectum and your thumb on the outside of the gland, gently squeeze and apply upwards pressure. The opening for the glands are located towards the top of the rectum, so aim in this direction and be prepared for the fluid that will be released.
  • Use your other hand to hold some kitchen roll or paper towels over the area that the glands release into, in order to catch the secretions.
  • Do not squeeze too hard, as this may prove painful for your dog and can also lead to the excreted fluid being shot some distance! Do not stand directly behind the dog either, for the same reason.
  • Continue to gently squeeze and manipulate the gland until it is no longer producing fluid, then wipe up around the area, and repeat the procedure on the other side.
  • Once you have expressed both anal glands, clear up any muck and prepare to throw everything covered in the secretions away, and wash off your dog’s back end.
  • Dry your dog off, and let them go.
  • Then, clean up the area that you worked in, packing up everything dirty in a sealed bag to throw away outside. Remember to thoroughly disinfect any surfaces that your dog came into contact with, and of course, thoroughly wash your hands and arms in soap and hot water before you continue to go about your day.


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