How to clean the anal glands on a dog

Updated November 21, 2016

Dogs possess a small sac on each side of their rectum, which produce their own unique scent. These sacs are commonly known as the "anal glands." When anal glands become impacted or infected, the dog might start scooting its bottom on the floor or licking itself around the base of its tail. Most dogs' anal glands empty themselves without any assistance; However, anal glands that do not empty themselves can be expressed (emptied) as a regular part of bathing or grooming. Anal glands that cannot empty can become infected, affecting the dog's comfort and, possibly, its ability to eliminate stool.

Put on rubber gloves and open the lubricant container. Place the lubricant on or near the surface upon which the dog will be placed.

Place the dog on a counter, grooming table, or another flat surface. The surface should be high enough to enable you to hold the dog still at waist level.

Apply the lubricant to your index finger. Use enough to coat your finger thoroughly, but not enough to drip onto your hand or wrist.

Insert your finger into the dog's anus. The dog may jump or turn its head to snap, due to the discomfort, but it is not painful.

Locate the anal glands with your fingertip. They should be located between 8 and 9 o'clock and 3 and 4 o'clock on either side of the anus. The filled anal gland will feel like a small, solid pea.

Apply gentle, steady pressure using your thumb and the inserted index finger. Place your index finger below the anal gland and squeeze upward and outward to express the accumulated material.

Rotate your index finger and locate the second anal gland. Repeat Step 6.


Anal glands can be expressed as often as every week, if necessary, to prevent them from becoming impacted or infected. Relieve your dog's discomfort by applying a warm, moist cloth as a compress to its posterior. Wear a grooming apron or old clothes when expressing anal glands. The contents of anal glands may shoot out for some distance when they are expressed. It is helpful to have an assistant or a grooming table with a grooming arm and loop to keep the dog in place while expressing anal glands.

Things You'll Need

  • Lubricant
  • Rubber glove
  • Optional:
  • Grooming apron
  • Grooming table with arm
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