Expressing a dog

Home Remedies & Natural Help for Dog Anal Glands

A dog’s anal glands can be a headache for pet owners when they’re not functioning correctly. But, there are some simple, natural methods and anal gland medicine for dogs to take care of your dog’s stinky butt problem for good.

Nutrition plays a big role in reversing anal gland problems. The right diet, a few good general maintenance supplements, keeping your dog hydrated and providing plenty of exercise are what helps to maintain your dog’s glands and keep them from becoming a problem in the first place.

Healthy dog glands will empty on their own. Should they become a problem; review the following tips to help guide you to naturally managing your dog’s anal gland dilemma on a regular basis!

Common Problems Associated with Poor Anal Gland Health in Dogs

  • Among the most common problems for anal glands is impacting. The dog’s glands become impacted when the fluid within can’t be expelled. This can lead to anal gland abscesses if not treated, which can actually rupture through the dog’s skin if the pressure builds high enough. 
  • As mentioned above, a dog’s anal glands can become abscessed, requiring drainage and proper treatment. Natural pain management is also essential, as these conditions can produce an incredible amount of soreness and difficulty. The dog’s bottom can become red and swollen.
  • Other issues include chronic or recurrent skin problems, which can manifest in the glands. Dogs who have skin infections related to yeast or  bacteria may experience anal gland problems. Skin mite infections can produce concerns, as can atopic dermatitis, hypothyroidism, and even food allergies.

  • Frequent anal gland expressions can lead to chronic problems. Veterinarians and groomers may externally express the glands, a process that can lead to distress and discomfort if done too often. For this reason, we do not recommend expressing your dog’s anal glands. Instead, focus on diet and allergy control which can help the glands express on their own.  
  • Feeding the wrong diet and the wrong type of diet can lead to food allergies in dogs. Dogs who live on kibble or canned dog foods often have a lot of digestive issues including soft stool and/or diarrhea which can lead to anal sac problems for dogs. Home cooked and/or raw diets are recommended. The stool needs to be firm in order to naturally express the anal glands.

What Triggers Anal Gland Complications in Dogs

  • Environmental/food allergies
  • Diarrhea and/or constant soft stool (this is often a symptom of another problem)
  • Digestive problems that leads to IBS (soft stool)
  • Poor diet
  • Dehydration
  • Vaccine toxicity

Signs that Your Dog May Need His Anal Glands Expressed 

When a dog’s anal glands are full or need expressed, there’s some common symptoms that you’ll most likely notice. Follow through with our home remedies below:

  • Scooting on the rear end which is an expression of obvious irritation in the area
  • Disproportionate rectal licking
  • Straining during defecation
  • Leaking of any fluid from the anal region
  • The leaking of a strong, generally fishy aroma
  • Redness or swelling around the anal area

What are Anal Sacs and Where are They Located?

A dog’s anal glands are known as scent glands made up of sweat and oil. They are located at 4 & 8 o’clock on the left and right side of the anus, between the muscle layers that make up the rectum. 

These are internal glands and cannot be seen externally. When full, they feel like the size of a grape. Dogs with healthy anal glands, will empty when FIRM stool passes over them an exerts pressure. However, problems arise when the glands do not empty on their own or become overfilled with fluid.

While some veterinarians suggest removing the anal glands when problems arise; it’s considered a very dangerous surgery. We personally know of pets that have died due to the surgery.  Plus, the surgery can cause lasting anal sphincter damage. With this said, we do not recommend it.

Home Remedies & DIY Tips for Dogs with Anal Gland Problems


If feeding kibble, you have to move away from it. Canned dog foods are really no better. Food makes a big impact on how the glands perform. Raw advocates swear by raw. Just like you have raw advocates out there; you also have those who firmly believe that cooking for your dog is the best way. Since we cater more to the old dogs, we lean more towards home cooking.  However, we use and recommend a light cooking process.

Also, it doesn’t mean that you can’t include raw lamb or goat bones a couple times a week. The stool will firm up nicely and clean the teeth as well! Steer clear of shank bones (marrow) which can cause broken teeth and the marrow is a pancreatitis attack waiting to happen!

2. Pectin for Internal

Pectin can help tremendously with bulking up the stool. We recommend the Solgar Brand of Pectin which is completely pure and has no other additives. Directions: Add 1/4 teaspoon of pectin to 8oz of wet food or 1/8 teaspoon to 4oz of wet food.

3. Witch Hazel HYDROSOL for External (NOT STANDARD WITCH HAZEL) 

Witch hazel hydrosol is a gentle, yet effective astringent containing healing properties that help calm irritated, itchy, painful anal glands. You want to make sure you purchase HYDROSOL and NOT a standard witch hazel from your local pharmacy which includes alcohol. The difference is that one is pure and the other contains alcohol which can burn.

This is an excellent product to keep at home for your dog’s itchy, gooey allergy eyes, ears and anal glands. It’s one of our favorite products for dogs. Directions: Simply wet a cotton ball in the witch hazel and gently blot the gland and rectal areas.

Why Do Dogs Have These Scent Glands Anyway?

Under normal circumstances, these scent glands will leave a distinctive “smell signal” from your pet. Much like their wolf ancestors, that “fishy” smell you may have noticed, is your dog’s distinctive scent.

Since dogs are domesticated, they no longer have a use for the glands or the scent; unlike wolves who in the wild will still release the scent which identifies each individual wolf to other wolves. You can learn more about wolves and their body structure here.

Article updated 6/19/20