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Cleaning a dog’s anal glands

By Gay Published: October 13, 2009

I know, I know—this is definitely an unpleasant subject, and one which we all hope to never have to know about. But impacted anal glands are terribly uncomfortable for your dog, and if you see him dragging his rear end across the floor, you know he—and you—have problems.

The anal sacs are two pouches under the dogs tail by the anus. They accumulate a foul liquid. When I say foul, I don’t mean just like rotting vegetable matter, dead animal carcass, an overturned porta-potty, I mean really, really, I’m-gonna-throw-up- FOUL. Usually the glands empty themselves each time your dog moves his bowels (one reason to be sure your dog has enough exercise and good food, not people food and sweets), but sometimes, alas, they don’t. I don’t know of any dogs that are prone to impacted anal glands—it can happen to any. Generally speaking, a well-toned dog who eats a proper diet and gets plenty of exercise will not have this problem.

But if he does, he will scoot his behind all over the floor in an attempt to remove the uncomfortable liquid. He isn’t partial to where he does this, either. It would be great if it were the yard, but your great-aunt Hilda’s antique Turkish rug is all the same to him. And he might be able to express a few drops, and believe me, that is all it takes. Good bye Turkish rug.

You should take him to your vet first, and see how he expresses the sacs. Hopefully, it will never happen again, but sometimes, the sac get impacted often, and vet trips are costly. So you might want to learn to do it.

Here is what you need:


  • Clothespin for your delicate nose. I’m not kidding.

  • Something to cover your clothes that you can throw away in case of a stray squit

  • A helper who is also equipped with a clothespin.

  • Plastic gloves

  • An old towel to catch the fluid that is expressed

  • A strong stomach.


The clothespin won’t completely work, and it’s ok to make gross noises while helping your dog. Remember, he is in pain

OK, then, your helper puts your dog’s head between her knees and keeps the dog’s head locked. She should hold the dog firmly around the middle with her arms, while you attend to the matter. The helper can not be faint of heart, or you will have a mess.

Positioning yourself behind the dog, lift his tail, and with one hand hold the towel under neat the anus. With your gloved free hand, fingers at about five and seven o’clock until the contents are fully expressed.gag if you must, but don’t let go of the dog. Now, turn your attention to the other anal sac and repeat the procedure. Be firm, but don’t be brutal, or you could rupture the anal sac and then your dog will get an infection. Your dog may still feel pain, and if he has an infection, he’ll need an antibiotic. A hot compress will relieve some of the pain.

Now you discard gloves and towel in a garbage bag and get it tied up and into the garbage can. It will keep raccoons away. Now is the time, of course, to jump in the shower, sniff water, use your most luxurious soaps, and try to rid yourself not only of the smell but the memory of it. You didn’t sign up for this when that sweet little puppy smiled up at you, but you have a duty.

You can forego all this advice and just take your dog to the vet should such a procedure be necessary. I recommend that! I would forego lattes for a month if I couldn’t afford it otherwise!

--By Gay Fifer, owner Parsley Hollow, Inc. - http://www.parsleyhollow.com/

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