If your dog is carrying a strong, pungent smell around them despite the numerous baths, then you might want to check their anal glands.

Anal glands are small sacs near the end of your dog’s anus that segregate an oily liquid. These sacs don’t actually need frequent manual expression unless there’s an underlying problem that impacts them.

For that matter, it’s important that you, as an owner, know how often to express your dog’s glands and the ways to do it.

How Anal Glands Work

Under normal circumstances, the pressure created in the anus of a dog while defecating is enough to get the glands expressed.

In return, the sacs then apply a scent to your pet’s feces in order to mark territory. Since dogs have a keen sense of smell, the scent usually is pretty mild and goes unnoticed by humans. However, if it is noticeable, the glands aren’t working properly.

It’s worth mentioning glands’ scented oil is the reason why dogs sniff each other’s butt: this smell can also serve as a form of greeting.

When there’s an anal sac disease, dogs can’t express the oils their bodies store in there. A blockage in the duct renders these organs useless and causes an infection or irritation around the sacs. The liquid then builds up in the sacs and later needs to be drained.

Luckily for us, it’s not difficult to spot irritated anal glands. Most dogs rub their butts or lick on the ground or lick it when their anal glands can’t get expressed.

Other signs are a brownish liquid leaking from them and left on the place your dog was sitting before. Additionally, infected anal sacs can leave behind a pungent or fishy smell in your pet’s feces.

How Often Should I Express My Dog’s Anal Glands?


Although it is recommended to express your pet’s glands every few months, a lot of dogs can have normal lives without manual expression. However, do keep in mind that unsuccessful expressions will only end up hurting them.

There are two ways to manually express a dog’s anal glands, but in both cases, you’ll need a disposable plastic glove. Also, you’ll need to take into account that anal glands are located at 4 and 8 o’clock of the anus.

External Approach

This method is quite easy to do, even without any kind of medical knowledge, but is less effective as a result. You simply apply pressure where the glands are supposed to be and then pinch gently. Small quantities of anal glands’ liquid will start to come out.

Internal Approach

This is the rougher and dirtier way to handle glands’ expressions, but extremely effective. You’ll need to insert your index finger into your pet’s butt and then pinch the glands with your index and thumb. This is a quick fix, but it can be uncomfortable for your dog.

If it’s hard to understand what you’re supposed to do, here’s an explanatory video to help you out. This is a very explicit video about anal glands, so watch at your discretion.

What Impacts a Dog’s Anal Glands?

Despite how easy it is to express dogs’ anal glands, sometimes, professional help is what your dog needs the most. Discovering what impacted your dog’s glands is crucial before expressing them.



Small-sized breeds are more prone to experience anal gland problems than larger ones. Dogs like Chihuahuas, Cocker Spaniels, and Beagles, among others, will need regular glands check-ups. It’s advisable to drain them every month.

Inherent Narrow Ducts

The anal glands have tiny ducts attached to the anus to transport its content. Some pets are naturally born with narrower passages, so their draining becomes obstructed more regularly.

If you notice your dog having frequent gland issues despite being perfectly healthy, this might be the case.


Being overweight has a serious impact on pets’ health. Extra fat equals thinner channels: bloodstream, digestive tract, and even anal glands’ valves are affected by it.

Obesity won’t only produce anal gland difficulties, but also respiratory issues and blockages inside vital organs like the bladder.


This is the most common cause for anal sacs build-up, also known as sacculitis.

Watery stools are likely to get stuck in your dog’s gland ducts and form a blockage. Moreover, diarrhea won’t let the glands’ oil a way out. Since poop won’t produce any pressure on this organ in its state, the sacs can’t empty themselves.

Low Fiber Diet


A lack of fiber in a dog’s diet is another frequent culprit of glands’ incontinence.

Due to a low fiber diet, pets won’t generate hardy stools and, thus, won’t be able to express their glands. To fix this, simply change to a high fiber diet; this also works during a diarrhea bout.


Be on the lookout for these, they might affect various organs depending on the outbreak’s location.

Allergies are foreign allergens that induce one’s immune system to react abruptly, which is the reason why there’s a lot of swelling. An inflamed anus is surely to afflict the anal sacs, and thus, make it more challenging for a dog to drain its gland.

Unwanted Visitors

Bacterial infections and parasitic insects shouldn’t be taken lightly: they are a real threat to our beloved pets.

On one hand, there are a lot of reasons why our dog undergoes an infection. It could be a wound, uremia, low hygiene; anything. Whatever the reason is, there is one certainty: there’s going to be swelling.

If your dog contracts an infection in its anal glands, it’ll shortly have a partly blocked tract. Nonetheless, when the infection subsists, the blockage vanishes in tow.

On the other hand, parasites are very likely to irritate the organ where they feed: this is true for intestinal worms and mites especially.

Intestinal worms are a headache for your dog’s digestive system: the whole digestive tract will be upset. As a consequence, there’s a chance your pet’s anus or anal glands get irritated. If there’s a worm infestation, you’ll see worms in feces and vomit.

Alternatively, mites are easier to detect: these little insects damage the skin of their host, especially mange mites. Dogs will suffer a lot of rashes and severe skin deterioration: if the anus is under attack, then the glands become irritated.

If these are your main suspects, you must take your dog to the vet right away! If not, you can express their glands without any issue.

As a final note, pets don’t need a manual expression of their anal sacs unless they need it. If they do, that’s where you should express your dog glands frequently.