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Dog anal gland express – what is it and how important?

Updated on January 24, 2012

One of the things that a groomer or veterinarian does for your dog is anal gland express. To my surprise, many dog owners have never heard about this. However, it is an important procedure that many dog lovers and owners need to be aware of. Hope you will enjoy this hub and learn something new at the same time.

What is dog anal gland express? All dogs have two anal glands in their butts. These are located below the anus at 4 o'clock and 8 o'clock when referenced to a clock. These glands are filled with a liquid that dogs use to identify each other. When humans meet, we shake hands. When dogs meet, they smell each others behind. If you don't believe me, you should observe your pet next time when he / she meets a new dog. Dog anal gland express is often done by a groomer or veterinarian to help empty the liquids in those two sacks.

How important? Doing anal gland express is fairly important for most dogs. They don't have the ability to empty them themselves and often need outside help. Furthermore, there are dogs that never need it and others get very bad infection due to not having it done. It really varies from dog to dog. When you take your dog to a groomer, you can have it done there for a fee. Veterinarians can also do it either for a fee or complementary because of other services.

Does my dog need it? Like I said before, some dogs have to have it done whereas for others it is optional. Your dog has his / her own way of letting you know if it's necessary. When the gland is full, dogs will lift up their hind legs and drag their butts on the floor. They are trying to empty the sacs themselves. If you observe this behavior from your dog more than once, it is a clear sign that he / she needs it done soon. Some dogs will also bite their behinds in an effort to empty the two sacks themselves.

How to do it? There are two ways to do it as far as I know, the internal and external way. You can either insert a lubricated gloved finger into the anus and lightly press on the anal gland to get them to release liquids. This is the internal way of expressing dog anal gland and often done by a veterinarian. You can also express anal gland from the outside by a push in and up method. This is the way that I prefer because I just cannot do it from the inside. See below video for actual anal gland express demonstration. The model is my dog Little Black.

What is the liquid like? Normal anal gland liquid is thin, yellow, dark tan or brown in color. There should not be any blood or pus because those things indicate an infection. You will have to take your dog to his / her veterinarian when blood or pus or both is observed. If you haven't regularly (about once a month is sufficient for most) expressed the dog's anal gland, the liquid might be thicker and darker in color. It smells horrible which is the reason that most owners are reluctant to do it themselves. A veterinarian or groomer would be happy to help you. But I still think that it can be done by a dog owner.

Anal gland removal? This is only done when the glands or anus are repeatedly infected or when anal sac cancer is present in the dog. Your dog will have complications when removed so removal is definitely not recommended unless absolutely necessary.


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    • profile image

      marley18 5 years ago

      hi everyone!i have a puppy she is 5mos old now,yesterday i give her a bath but for almost 2weeks now she smell really bad and before i gave her a bath lastnight i noticed that she smell like a dead fish and its coming out for her butt.what i do is a look at the internet and i found out its her anal glands that give her that smell so i look on you tube and watch how to extract that liquid on her anus i follow the how to remove it externally and now she smell like a baby again...

    • profile image

      Denise 5 years ago

      I just heard about this myself and wasn't sure if it was important or not, but thanks to this article...I see that it is and will definitely speak with my vet about it next time I go! Thanks!!

    • Linda Bliss profile image

      Linda Liebrand 5 years ago from San Francisco

      I've often wondered about this procedure and now I know what its all about! Thanks and voted up!

    • Kristen Haynie profile image

      Kristen Haynie 5 years ago from Modesto, CA

      This is very interesting! I had heard of this procedure before, but I didn't know it could so easily be done at home. Sometimes, my dog emits a very potent fishy scent, and I'm wondering if it has something to do with this?

    • PurvisBobbi44 profile image

      PurvisBobbi44 5 years ago from Florida


      Thank you so much. I will check this out with my Sweetie Angel, and see if it is something he needed.I voted useful, and this should help a lot of people.

      Thanks again,