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!

correcting dog anal gland problems naturallyCommon 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

where are dog anal glands located

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

1.DIET 

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

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Showing 20 comments
  • Sharon Smith
    Reply

    My vet has been emptying my maltese anal glands manually for about a year. It is so painful for him to have them emptied and there is blood. He has to take steroid eye drops every day of his life from losing one eye to glaucoma and now trying to save the other eye. He is in excellent health other than his anal gland problem. I cook for him everyday a diet the vet made up for him, consisting of potato, chicken, pumpkin, olive oil, salt, Fortiflora probiotic, Barlean’s fish oil omega-3 (2) a day. Catalyn 2160 and Milk Thisle to detox his liver. He is 15 years old but plays like a puppy. He screams in so much pain when I have to hold him for the vet to empty the glands. Vet said he can not be put under to remove glands. Now she wants me to switch food over to Hypo-Allergenic Canned Dog Food Royal Cannine Rabbit. I am at my wits end. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    • janie
      Reply

      Hi Sharon:

      I’m very sorry to hear about your little old boy’s anal glands. It’s great that your cooking for him, but potato isn’t really something he needs in his diet. He also needs variety and should never eat the same thing daily. I recommend looking into my cookbook and feeding him any of the recipes in the book regardless of which illness the recipe falls under. You can read more about it here. It’s an instant download: Cookbook – Home Cooking for Sick Dogs

      You mentioned his eye issues. This is a supplement that I definitely think you should look into for his vision health Sharon. It works well! Ocu Glo for Dogs

      Last, I definitely would NOT have the vet empty his glands again. You left your comment on the page here about Glandex. This product works very, very well for emptying the glands. I highly recommend it. Whatever you do. DO NOT ALLOW THEM TO REMOVE THE GLANDS. This is a very, very dangerous surgery. Many dogs die. I know of one.

      I would also include Bentonite Clay for him daily for life to detox his kidneys and liver. You can continue the milk thistle if you want. The clay will help with many things. It MUST be wet to be activated. So it should be added to his we food with a plastic spoon and mixed. DO NOT USE A METAL SPOON OR BOWL TO FEED HIM HIS MEAL WITH THE CLAY. The clay will absorb the metal and you don’t want this going back into his body. The clay will pull out toxins. He would get a 1/2 tsp daily. If you don’t want to mix it with his food, you can add a little water to it to make a liquidy paste and use a syringe to give it to him. You can also apply a little paste to his gums for any problems he has with his teeth. You can clean his teeth with the clay by slightly dampening a piece of gauze and dip in the dry clay and clean his teeth. This is the brand I recommend: Earths Natural Clay

      I would NEVER use Royal Canine of any kind!

      I hope this helps.

      Janie

  • jaz
    Reply

    hello, my dog has bumps on his anus the dr. treated with antibiotics and diet change but he is still having problems (this has been going on 4 over 2 months). I think these are other anal glands, not the big ones at 4 and 8…help!

    • janie
      Reply

      Hi Jaz:

      I’m sorry to hear about your dog. What diet was your dog on that didn’t help? Do you include any supplements? What is he eating now? Does he have any other skin issues? When was he last vaccinated and do you use chemical flea and tick products.

      Not sure what you mean when you say “I think these are other anal glands, not the big ones at 4 and 8”? They only have two anal glands; one on each side Jaz.

      Janie

      • jaz
        Reply

        He had bravecto months ago but we do not have any chemicals around our home or on our grass… (we love our weeds). He was eating blue dog food and that seems to be when problems started so we went to rice and chicken breasts…now we are adding venison to start a allergy food trial… his bumps are on the outside of his anus and I don’t know if they are associated with the main ones as I think I read there are other glands as well? We have spent a bunch on dr.s and no one really has any answers. They are testing for cancer cells and are looking at blood work… Thanks Janie

        • janie
          Reply

          Hi Jaz:

          Here at yourolddog, we do not recommend any chemical products like Bravecto ever be used on your dog. We know and have seen the side effects of these chemicals being directly injected and fed to dogs and cats. Don’t assume that “months ago” means Bravecto didn’t cause the problem. Dogs that are vaccinated can see problems 4 months down the road and the same goes here.

          Please check out this link on Facebook about Bravecto: https://www.facebook.com/groups/411371212394679/ Once there, scroll down to the Skin & Coat thread.

          First thing I would recommend for him is to detox him with Natural Clay (it is tasteless and odorless) and you add it to his food. It will remove any toxins from the blood, liver and kidneys. This is the only brand I recommend: Earths Natural Clay You’ll also find instructions there. Feed this away from other supplements since they will bind to the clay and be eliminated from the body.

          I would also feed a good multivitamin daily to help with allergies and general maintenance. You can see ours here which include our Daily Multi and Nuvet: https://yourolddog.com/product-category/skin-allergies/
          Our customers tell us that our Daily Multi is the best on the market, but Nuvet is also very good.

          I would start him on a good diet that includes either raw or some raw and a food such as this dehydrated formula: Only Natural Pet Dog Food

          You have to build his immune system and stay away from chemical flea and tick products as well as vaccines. Educate yourself about the rabies vaccine and the others. Many good holistic vets believe that t
          they are all causing disease and killing our animals and younger and younger ages. Allergies and skin problems are rampant for our pets. Use TripleSure for flea and tick. I’ve been using it for ten years now. Very good.

          I will also forward this to you privately in an email. I hope this helps.

          Janie

  • Poppy
    Reply

    Strange title. You are only taking about prevention. Misleading.

    • janie
      Reply

      Hi Poppy:

      I’m not quite sure why you think the title is misleading when I clearly share a product in the article with several links pointing to the product. This product is not only for prevention, it is to help treat glands that won’t empty on their own.

      What more are you looking for?

      Janie

  • Ron
    Reply

    My 12 year old boxer mix anal gland started to stink, he was not scooting or biting but was leaving some marks in his bedding. I used the pshillum husk and bone broth gel to tighten up his stoll, seems to be helping I used to wet his food.

    I can not find anything on the web that states the dogs system will fix itself, and if I found such an article hopefully I could find out how long this may take and other interesting facts. BESIDES THE ANAL GLANDS ARE BY THE….. AND HE MAY BITE AND SCOOT. Too many of articles and sales products not enough before, during and after knowledge.

    Please someone inpart this knowledge I speak of in as much detail as you can.

    Thanx

    Ron

    • janie
      Reply

      Hi Ron:

      A lot of the anal gland issues are caused by diet and it sounds like you’re feeding kibble? Another big problem is allergies which can be both environmental or food related. The dog’s system won’t fix itself if the problem itself isn’t addressed.

      Janie

    • Deanne Brousseau
      Reply

      So my black
      Lab baby boy almost 91/2 has been getting his anal glands done for about five years now and we have a major high fiber diet from the veterinarian for food and we also added now a etc powder fiber substance to his breakfast and he he is still at his bum and its still inflamed and I just had his anal glands cleaned like a week ago so I would love some major advice on how to help conquer this problem
      Black lad super active
      Advice on food
      Advice on home-remedies
      Adobe on feeding him raw (if that would fix it)
      Any help would be appreciated
      What’s your thoughts on a prebiotic? Would that help
      Thank you again and looking for help!🐾🐾

      • janie knetzer
        Reply

        Hi Deanne:

        I will send you over a private email okay?

        Janie
        YourOldDog.com

  • Julie
    Reply

    Hi and thanks for this great site.
    Question: Can you feel from the outside with thumb and forefinger whether the anal glands are full or not?

    • admin
      Reply

      Hi Julie:
      You’re welcome and I’m glad that you like the site. You almost have to have the forefinger inside at 10 or 2 positions and your thumb on the outside in order to really feel if the glands are full.

      They are like little grapes when full and raisins when they are not. I hope this helped.

      Janie

  • Candi
    Reply

    I have a 15 year old black lab. I tried to express the anal glands which I’ve done in the past and his tail would usually go back up. Now it continues to stay down like a horse. Is there something else I can try before going to the vet?

    • admin
      Reply

      Hello:
      You can try placing a VERY WARM, but not scalding (as hot as he will tolerate) compress on his anal area for 5 minutes 3 x day making sure that the compress stays warm. If interested, you can also consider this natural approach from Native Remedies that helps the dog to eliminate the glands on his own. You can read more about it at this link: Helps dogs to naturally empty their anal glands.

      I hope this helps.
      Janie

  • Jerome
    Reply

    When they have this problem is incontinence’s normal? My dog recently had his glands emptied and is now leaving droppings…

    • admin
      Reply

      Hi Jerome:
      I haven’t heard of urinary incontinence due to impacted glands. Fecal incontinence might be possible if the the glands are severely impacted and your dog loses feeling – but I don’t think that happens too often.

      If the droppings are brown in nature, it very well could be that the glands are continuing to empty if the the person who emptied them – didn’t get it all.

      Janie 😮

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