How To Tell If Dog Needs Glands Expressed

For many dog owners, maintaining their pet’s health goes beyond regular vet visits and a balanced diet.

One essential aspect of a dog’s well-being is the proper expression of its anal glands.

These small sacs on either side of the rectum sometimes become impacted or infected, causing discomfort and potential health issues for the dog.

It can be challenging to determine when a pet needs its glands expressed, as signs may be subtle or unfamiliar to the average pet owner.

In the following article, we’ll discuss how to tell if a dog needs glands expressed.

With this knowledge, dog owners may better identify problems and act to protect their pets.

Reasons For Gland Expression

Understanding the reasons for gland expression in dogs is essential for maintaining their health and well-being.

Here are some common indicators that your furry friend might need this procedure:

  • Excessive scooting: If your dog is persistently dragging its rear across the ground, it’s a sign that its anal glands may be uncomfortable or full.
  • Frequent licking or biting: Unexpressed anal glands may cause irritation or pain around the tail.
  • Strange scent: If your dog’s hindquarters smell bad, its anal glands may need cleaning.

Certain visual cues and certain risk variables and situations make some dogs more likely to need gland expression:

  • Small breed dogs: Smaller dogs, such as Chihuahuas and Poodles, tend to experience more frequent anal gland issues due to their size.
  • Obesity: Overweight dogs have a higher risk of full or impacted anal glands, as excess weight can pressure the glands.
  • Soft stools or diarrhea: Dogs that experience chronic soft stools or diarrhea may not express their anal glands naturally during bowel movements, leading to discomfort and potential impaction.

 It’s important to note that not all dogs will experience issues with their anal glands.

However, if your dog presents any of the symptoms above or falls into higher-risk categories, it’s wise to consult a veterinarian to determine if gland expression is necessary.

Signs That Your Dog Needs Glands Expressed

There are several signs that your dog may need to have their glands expressed.

Observing your dog’s behavior and appearance can help you determine if it’s time to visit the vet.

This section covers four major indicators your dog may need their glands expressed: scooting, swelling near the anal area, licking or biting the area, and a foul odor.


One of the most common signs that your dog may need their glands expressed is scooting.

If you notice your dog dragging their rear end across the floor or ground, it may be attempting to relieve pressure or discomfort from full anal glands.

This behavior indicates that your dog may need intervention in the form of gland expression.

Swelling Near The Anal Area

Another sign to watch for is swelling near your dog’s anal area.

Swollen or enlarged glands may appear red or irritated around the anus.

In some cases, you may even see a small bump or protrusion.

Swelling can indicate that the glands are full and may need to be expressed to prevent complications such as infection or impaction.

Licking Or Biting The Area

If your dog is constantly licking or biting at their anal area, it may be experiencing discomfort due to full glands.

This behavior is another indication that it may be time to have their glands expressed.

However, excessive licking or biting can also cause irritation and further complications, so it is important to address the issue promptly.

Foul Odor

A foul odor emanating from your dog’s rear end can be a sign that their glands need to be expressed.

The smell is often described as fishy or metallic and may become more noticeable when the dog is anxious or excited.

If you detect a persistent unpleasant odor, consider scheduling a visit to the veterinarian to have your glands examined and possibly expressed.

Related: How To Get Rid Of Dog Gland Smell

How To Safely Express Your Dog’s Anal Glands

Ensuring the safe and proper expression of your dog’s anal glands is crucial for their health and comfort.

There are two methods to achieve this: seeking a professional or performing at-home gland expression.

Seeking A Professional

One option for safely expressing your dog’s anal glands is turning to a professional, such as a veterinarian or a professional groomer.

These individuals have the necessary skills and experience to handle the process effectively and without harming your dog.

Additionally, they can identify any potential health issues related to the glands.

To choose the right professional, consider the following:

  • Their qualifications and experience
  • Recommendations from other dog owners
  • Online reviews and testimonials
  • The convenience of their location

At-Home Gland Expression

If you opt to express your dog’s anal glands at home, it’s essential to learn the correct technique to prevent injuries or discomfort.

Here is a step-by-step guide to help you safely perform at-home gland expression:

  • Prepare your workspace: Gather all necessary materials, such as gloves, paper towels, and a damp cloth. Ensure the area is clean and well-lit.
  • Position your dog: Place your dog in a standing position, making sure they are calm and comfortable.
  • Locate the glands: The anal glands are situated at 4 o’clock and 8 o’clock positions, surrounding the anus.
  • Gently press: Using your thumb and forefinger, gently press and squeeze the glands, using an upward motion toward the anus.
  • Clean up: Wipe any expressed fluid using paper towels, and clean the area with a damp cloth.

Remember to monitor your dog’s comfort during the process and consult your veterinarian if you encounter any difficulties or concerns.

Preventive Measures

An easy way to reduce the likelihood of your dog needing its glands expressed is by taking effective preventive measures.

In this section, we will discuss the significance of dietary changes and regular grooming for your dog’s overall anal gland health.

Dietary Changes

One of the most important factors affecting a dog’s anal glands is its diet.

Ensuring your pet receives proper nutrition can help promote healthy bowel movements, which naturally express the glands.

Consider the following tips for dietary changes:

  • Increasing fiber intake: A high-fiber diet can help to create firm stools, leading to easier gland expression. You can add pumpkin or specially formulated dog food with additional fiber to meet this need.
  • Hydration: Trick your dog into drinking more water by keeping their water dish fresh and clean. Proper hydration can help prevent constipation and aid in gland health.
  • Choosing a quality dog food: Opt for dog food brands that have high-quality ingredients and a well-balanced macronutrient profile to ensure optimal digestive health.

Regular Grooming

Regular grooming is another crucial factor in maintaining your dog’s anal gland health.

By keeping your dog’s fur clean and well-groomed, you can minimize the risk of infection and other complications.

Consider the following grooming practices:

  • Bathing: Regularly bathe your dog using dog-appropriate shampoos to keep their coat and skin in good condition. This can help prevent irritation and infection around the anal area.
  • Trimming: Keep the hair around your dog’s rear area clean and trimmed. Long hair can collect debris and feces, which may cause irritation to the anal glands.
  • Regular check-ups: Routinely inspect your dog’s rear end for signs of discomfort or swelling.

Consult your vet for advice if you detect any difficulties.

These preventive practices can assist your dog’s anal gland health and lessen the need for manual gland expression.

Before You Go…

Now you know how to tell if a dog needs glands expressed.

If you want to learn more, read the following articles too!

Dimitra Kokologianni, DVM
Dimitra holds a Masters’s degree in public health and a Bachelor’s degree in veterinary medicine. She is a versatile professional with over 7 years of experience. Her passion for animal welfare and preventive medicine makes her an excellent resource for our readers.