Expressing Your Dogs Anal Glands

How To Clear Impacted Anal Glands In Dogs

Expressing your dogs anal glands is a fairly straightforward procedure which you could easily do yourself, although you may want to ask your vet or groomer to show you how it's done for the first time.

  • Ask a friend to hold your dog's head and keep him calm, while you get behind him.

  • Hold and lift his tail, and move the fur out of the way to expose his anus.

  • Soak the area with warm water - I use a soft cloth for this job but you could also use cotton wool.

  • Your dogs anal glands are small, about the size of a large pea, and you should be able to feel them just under the skin's surface, near the anal opening. Imagine a clock face - they are positioned at around 4 and 8 o'clock.

  • Using your index finger and thumb, gently push and squeeze the lower outside and bottom edges of your dog's anus.

  • This gentle squeezing action releases a thick, unpleasant smelling substance - if it doesn't, repeat the warm water and cloth process, and try again.

Helpful Tip: I recommend you don a pair of latex gloves before expressing anal glands as it can get very messy and will be very smelly!

  • If this doesn't work, I recommend you take your Cocker Spaniel to see his vet, as impacted anal glands can be painful and will need immediate treatment to prevent the problem worsening and possible infection occurring.

  • If you suspect your dog has infected anal glands, don't hesitate to take him straight to the vet. I don't recommend you try and treat the infection yourself.

Problems Arising With Your Dogs Anal Glands

It's important to clear dog anal glands as soon as they become impacted otherwise they may become infected, and an abscess may follow.

If your Cocker Spaniel develops an abscess, his anus will swell up and may turn a dark, angry-looking purple color.

The abscess will fill with pus, which may occasionally seep from the glands.

Abscesses can cause your dog a great deal of pain. He won't be able to walk normally and he'll try to 'scratch' his bottom whilst dragging himself across the floor (often referred to as 'scooting'). It's not too pretty to watch, but can sometimes look comical!

However, from your pet's point of view, it won't seem funny at all because he'll be extremely uncomfortable and may even have some pain. You'll probably notice a lot of frantic bottom-licking in a bid to ease himself.

It really is important to clear your dogs anal glands as soon as you notice that there's a problem.

If you think your Cocker has an abscess, don't touch it, speak to your vet who will lance the abscess for you and will probably prescribe a course of antibiotics.

Prevention And Treatment Of Problems With Dog Anal Sacs

If impacted dog anal sacs aren't too frequent a problem with your Cocker, you can simply clean and clear them as and when the need arises.

I recommend you add a quick check into your regular grooming routine - it won't take long and you'll be alerted to any problems early, before they have time to escalate.

Whilst it's okay to express your dogs anal glands, if it becomes a regular occurrence, you should speak to your vet who may suggest increasing the fiber content in your Cocker's diet to help bulk up his stool. (The process of passing a solid stool places the correct pressure on the glands. It's this pressure that helps them express themselves normally; without any help from you).

In cases of regular occurrences, where the vet is unable to resolve the problem to his satisfaction, he may recommend that the anal glands are removed surgically, which will eliminate this problem for good. 


If your Cocker Spaniel develops any problems, I recommend you act fairly quickly - the quicker the better, before problems develop.

Keep a watchful eye for scooting and butt licking, and incorporate a quick check into his grooming routine. When you understand how to spot infected and impacted dog anal glands you'll be in a much better position to act quickly.

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