Tag Archives: Dog care

Anal Glands – Cleaning

How to Express a Dog’s Anal Glands

Laura from New Jersey wrote:

I’ve been grooming on my own for 4 years and trained under a groomer who never cleaned anal glands. I’ve been asked by customers if I would and I’ve always repeated what she told her customers, “That should only be done by a veterinarian.”
I know that this can be a hot topic for some vets and groomers, but I’ve been told that many groomers clean glands routinely.
What is your take on the subject? Is this a service groomers should offer? After grooming for so long, I’m embarrassed to admit that I do not know how. Should I ask my veterinarian to teach me?

Hi Laura,

I do believe that groomers (and some owners) should know how to express anal glands. Whether or not you offer this service should be your decision. I personally do not express glands routinely, but only when needed. (Click here to understand more about anal glands)

There are 2 ways to express anal glands, internally and externally. Leave the internal procedure to your veterinarian. This is dangerous and painful.

External cleansing of the gland is easy. Check the anal area as follows, before the bath.
(I always look when clipping the anal area with a #10 blade)

    1.Have someone hold the dog’s head or restrain with a loop on your grooming table or tub.
    2.With the dog standing, lift upward on the base of the tail firmly.
    3.Examine the anal area. Below the rectum at 5 and 7 o’clock are the 2 glands. Feel this area with the tips of you index finger and thumb. If they are swollen, they can be expelled.
    4.Place a paper towel, tissue or baby wipe covering the area to catch the secretion.
    5.Gently press below this swelling, inward and upward toward the rectum. You should see anal fluid excrete from the rectum. You can increase pressure until nothing comes out.

This fluid can be white, tan, brown, black or bloody. It can be watery, granular, like pudding or dough. Guaranteed it will smell horrible. Also be warned that it can ooze out slowly or expel explosively on you and your surroundings.

Signs that the dog needs to see a veterinarian:

    1.Blood in the secretion
    2.A hole in the skin from one of the glands. This is an abscessed anal gland that has ruptured.

In the second case, don’t groom the dog, call the owner and refer them to a vet immediately.

When should you expel the gland?

    1.The customer says the dog’s been scooting (dragging is rear)
    2.When you notice very swollen glands.

When asked by a client to routinely express the gland, I reply that I will check it. Routine cleansing is not effective and can actual cause problems. (Also see explanation below)

When I’ve found it necessary to express the glands, I tell the client to expect the dog to lick or scoot for a day or so. If the irritation lasts longer, it may need a second cleaning.

Good luck and good grooming.

Our Policy

We have reviewed this policy with two highly respected veterinarians, who gave us their 100% seal of approval.

When you groom a dog, you need to examine every inch of skin and fur including the anal area, removing excessive hair and clean away any debris. Also look for signs of problems with the anal gland, and if a problem exists, (indicated by swelling, soreness, oozing and odor) you may choose to express the gland. If it appears infected, refer the owner to his or her veterinarian. If there is not a problem,  leave it alone.

Routinely cleaning a healthy anal gland has no benefit and can actually cause harm by disturbing the natural balance of the secretions or by causing irritation.

ANAL GLANDS – Understanding them

Each Anal Gland constantly produces a secretion with a pungent odor unique to your dog. Along with urine, the anal secretion is in fact, your dog’s “odor signature” to other dogs.

Dogs, being scent orientated, identify each other by their sense of smell. Dogs will “mark their territory” with urine, which usually does not change much in odor. Because the stool’s odor varies with diet, the anal gland secretes a small amount of fluid on the stool with each normal bowel movement, marking it with the dog’s “odor signature.”

The Anal Gland is an active working gland located just below and slightly outside the anus. In most dogs, the anal gland is self-cleaning, and does not require routine cleaning.

Dog care information anal glands absessed anal gland ruptured anal gland understanding How to express a dog's anal glands veterinary emergency diarrhea and soft stools Acidophilus secretion normal bowel movement DietOccasionally the glands can get clogged or blocked, causing the dog to lick at its anus or drag its rear across the floor or ground. Sometimes these actions will empty the anal gland. If the gland remains clogged, it can become infected very quickly, abscess, and can even rupture. An absessed anal gland or ruptured anal gland is a veterinary emergency.

Diet plays an important role in maintaining a healthy anal gland. Since it is the pressure applied by a normal, solid bowel movement that expresses the gland, diarrhea and soft stools may not apply enough pressure to completely empty it. If your dog has a repeating problem, you need to adjust its diet to eliminate diarrhea and soft stools. Finding a dog food that your dog can digest easily, and then staying with that food, will insure firm stools, reducing problems with the anal gland.

If your dog’s gland is overactive or you can not control the problem, then you can learn how to express the anal gland at home. Checking your dog’s anal gland is an important part of caring for your pet, is easy to learn and can save you hundreds of dollars in vet bills.

Routinely cleaning a healthy anal gland has no benefit and can actually cause harm by disturbing the natural balance of the secretions or by causing irritation. If your dog has a persistent problem, we recommend you talk to your veterinarian. If it is ruptured or appears infected seek immediate veterinary help.