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  • Writer's pictureKarley

The Importance of Dog Anal Gland Expressions: Why and When Your Pooch Needs It

Every dog owner is familiar with the typical canine quirks - from their unbridled joy at fetch to their unique way of showing affection. However, there's a lesser-known, albeit vital aspect of canine health: the anal gland expressions. While it may not be the most glamorous part of pet ownership, understanding the importance of this process can be crucial for your dog's comfort and health.

What are Anal Glands?

Dogs have two small sacs or glands situated on either side of their anus. These anal glands produce a fluid with a distinct scent. Historically, this was a way for dogs to mark their territory and communicate with other dogs.

Why Express the anal glands?

Over time, especially in domesticated dogs, these glands can become impacted, leading to discomfort, infection, and other potential issues.

  1. Comfort: A dog with full or impacted anal glands will often show discomfort. They might scoot their rear on the ground, lick or bite at the area, or show signs of pain when defecating.

  2. Prevent Infection: Impacted anal glands can become infected and abscessed if not treated.

  3. Avoidance of Serious Health Issues: In extreme cases, untreated anal gland issues can lead to severe conditions that may require surgery.

When Should They Be Expressed?

  1. Recognize the Signs: If your dog is scooting, licking the area frequently, or if there's a noticeable foul smell, it might be time.

  2. Regular Vet Check-ups: Your veterinarian can check the glands during regular exams and advise if they need expressing.

  3. Based on Past Issues: If your dog has had issues in the past, your vet may recommend a regular schedule for expression.

Should You Do It At Home?

While some experienced pet owners feel comfortable expressing their dog's anal glands at home, it's often recommended to have a professional do it. Improper technique can cause injury or exacerbate the problem. Veterinarians or professional groomers have the expertise to handle this delicate task.


Maintaining your dog's anal gland health is a crucial yet often overlooked aspect of their overall well-being. Regular check-ups, being vigilant for signs, and seeking professional advice when necessary can ensure your pet remains happy and healthy.

For more in-depth information on canine health issues, the American Veterinary Medical Association is a fantastic resource. Remember, always prioritize the comfort and health of your pet, even when it comes to less-discussed topics like anal gland expressions.


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