How To Express Anal Glands: A Step-By-Step Guide

  • 5 min read
  • Sep 13, 2023
Dealing with swollen anal glands in your dog Doghealth
Dealing with swollen anal glands in your dog Doghealth from

Welcome Ihsanpedia Friends!

Greetings and welcome to this informative article on how to express anal glands in pets. Taking care of your pet’s hygiene is an essential part of being a responsible pet owner. One aspect of pet hygiene that can often be overlooked is the expression of anal glands. In this article, we will provide you with a step-by-step guide on how to express anal glands, along with the advantages and disadvantages of this procedure. So, let’s dive in!


Anal glands, also known as anal sacs, are small glands located on either side of your pet’s anus. These glands produce a strong-smelling fluid that is normally expelled during bowel movements. However, sometimes the fluid can become thick and can’t be released naturally. This can lead to discomfort, pain, and even infection for your pet.

Expressing anal glands is a technique used to manually release the built-up fluid. It is commonly performed by veterinarians, but with proper guidance, you can learn to do it at home. Before attempting this procedure, it is important to consult with your veterinarian to rule out any underlying medical conditions and to ensure you are performing it correctly.


  1. Relief from Discomfort: Expressing anal glands can provide immediate relief to your pet by releasing the built-up fluid, which can alleviate discomfort and pain.
  2. Prevention of Infection: By regularly expressing anal glands, you can reduce the risk of infection caused by the accumulation of fluid.
  3. Improved Hygiene: Keeping your pet’s anal glands clean and free of blockages can help maintain overall hygiene and prevent unpleasant odors.
  4. Cost-Saving: Learning to express anal glands at home can save you money on veterinary visits for this specific procedure.
  5. Bonding Opportunity: By performing this procedure yourself, you can strengthen the bond between you and your pet through regular grooming and care.
  6. Early Detection of Issues: Regularly expressing anal glands allows you to monitor any changes in the fluid, which can potentially indicate underlying health issues that require veterinary attention.
  7. Convenience: Being able to express anal glands at home gives you the flexibility to do it whenever necessary, without the need to schedule a veterinary appointment.


  1. Potential for Injury: Expressing anal glands requires gentle and precise handling, as mishandling can cause injury to your pet’s delicate anal tissues.
  2. Discomfort for the Pet: While the procedure provides relief in the long run, initially it can cause discomfort and anxiety for your pet.
  3. Unpleasant Odor: The fluid released from the anal glands has a strong and unpleasant odor, which can be off-putting during the procedure.
  4. Time-Consuming: Expressing anal glands can be a time-consuming process, especially if your pet has a history of frequent blockages.
  5. Need for Regular Maintenance: Once you start expressing anal glands, it becomes a regular maintenance task that needs to be performed on a routine basis.
  6. Limited Accessibility: For some pet owners, accessing the anal glands can be challenging due to the pet’s size, temperament, or physical limitations.
  7. Risk of Infection: Improper technique or unsanitary conditions during the procedure can increase the risk of introducing bacteria and causing infection.

Step-by-Step Guide: How to Express Anal Glands

Before we proceed, it is important to note that expressing anal glands should be done with caution and only after consulting with your veterinarian. Here is a step-by-step guide:

Step Description
Step 1 Prepare the area: Put on gloves and have absorbent pads or tissues ready to catch the fluid.
Step 2 Position your pet: Place your pet in a comfortable position, either standing or lying down on their side.
Step 3 Locate the glands: Gently lift your pet’s tail and identify the two small openings on either side of the anus.
Step 4 Apply gentle pressure: With your gloved finger, apply gentle pressure around the glands, aiming towards the anus.
Step 5 Express the fluid: Apply gentle squeezing motions to encourage the fluid to release. Be prepared to catch the fluid with the absorbent pads or tissues.
Step 6 Clean the area: After expressing the glands, use mild pet wipes or warm water to clean the area around the anus.
Step 7 Dispose of waste and sanitize: Dispose of the used materials properly, wash your hands thoroughly, and sanitize the area where the procedure was performed.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1: How often should I express my pet’s anal glands?

A1: The frequency of expressing anal glands varies from pet to pet. Some pets may require monthly expression, while others may only need it a few times a year. Your veterinarian can guide you on the appropriate frequency for your pet based on their individual needs.

Q2: What are the signs that my pet’s anal glands need to be expressed?

A2: Signs that your pet’s anal glands may need to be expressed include scooting or dragging their bottom on the ground, excessive licking or biting of the anal area, a swollen or painful anus, and a strong foul odor coming from the rear end.

Q3: Can I express my pet’s anal glands myself without any prior experience?

A3: It is strongly recommended to seek guidance from your veterinarian before attempting to express your pet’s anal glands. They can provide you with proper instructions and ensure you are performing the procedure safely.

Q4: Can I use any type of gloves for expressing anal glands?

A4: It is best to use disposable gloves made of latex or nitrile. These materials provide a barrier between your hands and the anal glands, reducing the risk of contamination.

Q5: Will expressing anal glands hurt my pet?

A5: When done correctly, expressing anal glands should not cause pain. However, if your pet has a pre-existing condition or if the procedure is not performed gently, it can cause discomfort. It is important to be cautious and observe your pet’s reactions during the process.

Q6: Can I express anal glands without lifting my pet’s tail?

A6: Lifting the tail helps in accessing the anal glands more easily. However, in some cases, it may not be possible or safe to lift the tail, especially if your pet is anxious or aggressive. If you encounter difficulties, consult with your veterinarian for alternative techniques.

Q7: What should I do if I encounter difficulties or complications while expressing anal glands?

A7: If you encounter difficulties or notice any complications, such as bleeding, inflammation, or persistent discomfort for your pet, stop the procedure immediately. Contact your veterinarian for guidance and assistance.


Expressing anal glands is an important aspect of pet hygiene that can help prevent discomfort, pain, and infections. By following the step-by-step guide provided in this article, you can learn to perform this procedure at home, under the guidance of your veterinarian. Remember to prioritize safety, gentleness, and consult your veterinarian for any concerns or difficulties you may encounter.

Regularly expressing your pet’s anal glands, when necessary, can contribute to their overall well-being and help maintain a healthy and happy pet. So, take the initiative, consult with your veterinarian, and provide your furry friend with the care they deserve!

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and should not be considered as veterinary advice. Always consult with your veterinarian before attempting any procedures on your pet.