The Gross Truth About Anal Glands


Anal glands are two small glands located inside your pet’s anus. They have visible ducts that are located at the four and eight o’clock positions on your pet’s anus. The material found inside these glands can be quite foul smelling.  It is usually a light brown to dark brown colour. The anal glands are usually emptied when your pet has a bowel movement. Sometimes they may even empty if your pet gets startled or feel scared.

For many reasons, the anal glands may become impacted (or blocked). For example, if your pet has diarrhea, there is not enough pressure on the anal glands to express them with each bowel movement. The material inside the glands will continue to be produced by the gland and your pet will feel very uncomfortable. Dogs and cats will usually try and “scoot” on the ground (drag their bum along the ground) or excessively lick at their back end. If the glands are left impacted for too long, they are at risk for rupturing and becoming infected.

The anal glands can be manually expressed if needed. External expression is the method typically used on cats and small dogs. Internal expression is typically used for medium and large dogs.


To externally express anal glands: A tissue is held up to the anus and both sides of the anal area are gently squeezed.

To internally express anal glands: A lubricated, gloved finger is inserted into the anus. The anal gland is the gently squeezed between the thumb and forefinger into a tissue held on the outside of the anus. The procedure is then repeated on the other side.

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