Dog Anal Glands | How To Tell If They Need Emptied

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Reoccurring Problems With Dog Anal Glands

These two little sacs on either side of a dog’s rectum are also known as dog anal glands.

I typically share articles about circumstances that I have a good bit of experience with and this happens to be one of them. Not a pretty topic, but nonetheless it happens quite often for many dog owners.


This is so uncomfortable!

What’s The Purpose of Dog Glands

The glands contain a brown fluid with a very strong scent individual to the dog and comparable to a human’s fingerprint. If you’ve ever wondered why dogs routinely sniff each others butts, it’s because of this individual scent. A dog can learn alot about another dog through his particular scent.


When dog’s relieve themselves by either urinating or defecating, it places pressure on the glands forcing the liquid to expel. However, many canines develop dog anal gland problems causing the sacs to not empty at all on their own. There are some great products available that can help heal the glands and support natural emptying.

Here’s the most common reasons why your dog is having difficulty with his anal sacs:

  1. Poor diet and/or low quality food
  2. Not enough exercise
  3. Obesity
  4. Diarrhea and soft stool doesn’t apply pressure to the glands-> a dog’s stool should be firm placing enough pressure on the glands to empty on their own. Diet and allergies are contributing factors with soft stool issues.
  5. Allergies play a huge role in reoccurring problems with dog anal glands. For many of our own dog’s, the ones that had allergies, whether food related, environmental or both always had problems with their glands.
  6. If your dog becomes constipated, this can also lead to problems. Don’t make your dog hold his bowel movements or urine for too long. Holding urine can result in kidney and bladder infections resulting in dog incontinence and leaking urine.

What Are The Symptoms Related To Full or Impacted Glands

  1. Scooting on rear
  2. Licking back end alot
  3. A strong stinky smell
  4. Dog gets up from an either sitting or laying position and immediately sniffs the area
  5. Quick jerking and biting at his rear end

Your veterinarian or a vet tech will express the glands for you as often as needed, however it can become pricey. Your vet can also teach you how to express the glands yourself.

Or, you can use these popular herbal compresses that take all the “yuk” out of doing it yourself.

Full or impacted dog anal glands are very uncomfortable for your dog. Make it a priority to treat the problem.

If you suspect that your dog is suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome, check out my article here on how to treat this condition.

The Dog Diarrhea Dilemma/Janie’s Opinion

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Do you have any tips you can share?

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Jerome August 4, 2011 at 11:42 pm

When they have this problem is incontinence’s normal? My dog recently had his glands emptied and is now leaving droppings…


admin August 5, 2011 at 12:10 am

Hi Jerome:
I haven’t heard of urinary incontinence due to impacted glands. Fecal incontinence might be possible if the the glands are severely impacted and your dog loses feeling – but I don’t think that happens too often.

If the droppings are brown in nature, it very well could be that the glands are continuing to empty if the the person who emptied them – didn’t get it all.

Janie :o


Candi September 10, 2012 at 11:40 am

I have a 15 year old black lab. I tried to express the anal glands which I’ve done in the past and his tail would usually go back up. Now it continues to stay down like a horse. Is there something else I can try before going to the vet?


admin September 11, 2012 at 3:47 pm

You can try placing a VERY WARM, but not scalding (as hot as he will tolerate) compress on his anal area for 5 minutes 3 x day making sure that the compress stays warm. If interested, you can also consider this natural approach from Native Remedies that helps the dog to eliminate the glands on his own. You can read more about it at this link: Helps dogs to naturally empty their anal glands.

I hope this helps.


Julie October 9, 2012 at 6:29 pm

Hi and thanks for this great site.
Question: Can you feel from the outside with thumb and forefinger whether the anal glands are full or not?


admin October 11, 2012 at 3:17 am

Hi Julie:
You’re welcome and I’m glad that you like the site. Be sure to visit our main site too. You almost have to have the forefinger inside at 10 or 2 positions and your thumb on the outside in order to really feel if the glands are full.

They are like little grapes when full and raisins when they are not. I hope this helped.



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