Do Dachshunds Need Their Glands Expressed? How to Express Them

Many pet parents regard expressing their dogs’ anal glands as gross or unnecessary. But it’s, in fact, a vital part of keeping some dogs healthy and comfortable. Hence the question, “Do dachshunds need their glands expressed?”

Dachshunds need their glands expressed. They are unable to empty them properly due to their tiny bodies. Otherwise, they’ll likely develop anal gland issues like impactions, infections, and abscesses. 

In this article, I’ll discuss everything you need to know about expressing your dachshund’s anal glands. Read on to learn how to conduct the procedure and what to do to prevent your dachshund from having anal gland problems. 

Why Does My Dachshund Smell Fishy?

Your dachshund smells fishy because its anal glands are full and need to be expressed. 

Anal glands (or anal sacs) are tiny structures on either side of your dachshund’s anus, just below the skin surface. These sacs contain sebaceous and apocrine glands that release thick, oily, foul-smelling fluids when your dog passes stool. 

Your dog also secretes the liquid when marking its territory and communicating with other dogs. This explains why your dachshund is interested in sniffing other dogs’ stools or tails when they meet. 

Another reason your dog can smell fishy is they’re scared. Dogs involuntarily produce these secretions in response to frightening situations. 

When you notice a consistent fishy smell, consult your veterinarian. Your dachshund may need its anal sacs manually expressed, which should rectify the odor. 

Veterinarians and groomers provide this service, but you can learn to perform it yourself if you can withstand the smell. 

However, it’s crucial to know that too frequent manual expression of the anal glands can cause swelling and scar tissue. So, you should only do it if your dog is not emptying them naturally. 

Also Read: Why Is My Dachshund Whining? 9 Reasons and What to Do

How Do You Know If Your Dog Needs Glands Expressed?

Do Dachshunds need their glands expressed

There are various ways to tell if your dog needs its glands expressed besides the fishy smell. 

Canines with inadequately drained anal sacs will scoot or drag their rare ends around the floor in an attempt to empty them and relieve the pressure. This is usually the first and most common sign. 

Other signs that your dog needs glands expressed include:

  • Sitting uncomfortably.
  • Chasing their tails in frustration.
  • Biting or licking their anus area excessively due to irritation.

Your dog can exhibit soreness or redness around the anus. They may also have difficulty passing stool which can be shown by vocalization. You might also notice an inflamed, hard lump near their rectum or blood and pus on their stool, indicating infection.

It’s, however, worth noting that expressing the glands will only help relieve the pain and discomfort of full glands and prevent the potential for infections. However, it’s not a remedy for the underlying issue

It is best to consult your vet about the best treatment if you suspect your dachshund has anal sac problems. 

What Happens If You Don’t Squeeze Your Dog’s Glands?

Your dog will likely suffer from anal gland problems (or anal sac disease) if you don’t squeeze their glands regularly. Unfortunately, dachshunds are particularly prone to these issues due to their small size. 

Research shows that the dachshund type has 1.38 times the risk of anal sac disease than other non-dachshund types.

If you don’t squeeze your dog’s glands, it leads to fluid build-up, which can result in the following issues:


Typically, your dachshund’s anal sacs naturally squeeze in small amounts during bowel movements. But, sometimes, the sacs don’t drain fully, and the fluid dries up, causing blockage and swelling.

An impacted sac feels hard, is painful, and can’t express adequately. It produces a thick, brown paste when squeezed by a professional. If the impaction continues for too long without treatment, it can build up bacteria resulting in abscesses and infections

Impactions can occur due to various reasons. 

Your doxie’s anal glands could be abnormal. Or they could be excreting soft stools, not hard enough to apply pressure on the sacs during defecation. Obese dogs are also prone to this condition because they can’t empty their sacs well. 

Impacted anal sacs usually need a vet’s assistance. Your vet will manually express them and may use a softer or saline rinse if the impaction is particularly dry. They’ll also prescribe antibiotics and pain relievers for your dog.

Find Out: Are Dachshunds Affectionate? 4 Simple Ways to Tell

Infections and Abscesses

As mentioned, when an impacted sac is left untreated for a long time, the fluid becomes a medium for bacterial growth, causing infection and even abscess. 

An abscessed anal sac comes off as a painful, red, hot inflammation. Left untreated, it can burst through the skin, producing greenish-yellow or bloody pus. Also, the infection can quickly spread and severely destroy the anus and rectum.

If the abscess ruptures, you’ll need to keep your dog’s bottom clean by wiping it with warm salty water twice daily and after every defecation

You’ll also want to put a protective head cone on your dog until they fully recover so they don’t lick their bottom and worsen the situation.

Unlike impacted anal sacs, abscesses are usually too painful for the vet to express immediately. Instead, they’ll give your dog anti-inflammatories to alleviate the pain and swelling and antibiotics to clear the infection. 

In severe cases, when these anal sac issues are recurrent or do not resolve with treatment, your vet will remove the glands surgically. These procedures are mostly successful and don’t affect a dachshund’s quality of life. 

How Do You Express a Dachshund’s Glands?

Expressing your dachshund glands is easy but requires care and attention. You might damage the anal sacs if you do it improperly. And although the process relieves your dog from discomfort, it might not always be pleasant for you or them—it can be messy and stinky. 

You may consider buying an expressing kit online or from your local pet store, which has everything needed to safely and effectively empty your dog’s anal sacs. 

You Need the following to express a dachshund’s glands:

  • Paper towels
  • Disposable latex gloves
  • Petroleum jelly
  • A bowl of warm soapy water
  • Towel
  • Washcloth 
  • Trash bag
  • Optional: A sweet-smelling dog shampoo to reduce the stinky odor

How to Express a Dachshund’s Anal Glands at Home

Expressing dachshund's anal glands

Here is the procedure to express your dachshund’s anal glands at home:

Step 1: Put your dachshund on a raised surface like a grooming table with a towel under them. You can offer them a lick mat or spreadable treat like peanut butter to make them more comfortable and have something to focus on during the process. You can also have someone to assist you in holding your doxie still.

Step 2: Put on your latex gloves and lubricate your thumb and forefinger with petroleum jelly. Insert the forefinger gently and slowly into the anus and stop as soon as you slip past the rectum’s external sphincter muscles. 

Step 3: Locate the anal glands on either side of the anus. The sacs are between the external and internal sphincter muscles. If you compare your dachshund’s anus with a clock face, the sacs will roughly be at 4 and 8 o’clock positions

Run your finger gently around these areas until you feel two puffy small lumps nearly the size of a small grape. If you feel nothing, the sacs will likely be empty, and the dog will be scooting for other reasons. Consider seeing a vet. 

Step 4: Hold a paper towel behind your dog’s anus with one hand to avoid any anal fluid on your face or clothing. Next, gently squeeze the glands with your thumb and forefinger to discharge the fluid. Ensure to reward your doxie with praise or treats during this procedure. 

Squeeze both sacs to ensure they’re fully expressed. You should observe a smelly brown fluid. But if you see a chunky discharge with blood or pus, it could be an infection. So, stop and book an appointment with the vet. 

You should also stop the process and schedule an appointment if you can’t get to release one or both sacs and your dog seems to be in pain. They could be impacted glands that need the vet’s attention. 

Step 5: Put the dirty paper towels into the trash bag and gently clean your dog’s bottom using a washcloth and warm soapy water. You can wipe the anal area with scented shampoo to reduce the strong, unpleasant smell that can linger for a while. 

Step 6: Take off your gloves and dispose of them with the soiled paper towels. Put the washcloth and towel in the laundry, clean your hands, and reward your doxie for being a good dog.

Expert Advice: It’s best to get help from a professional if you’re unsure of the process or have never emptied your dog’s anal sacs. You can ask a vet during a regular check-up or groomer to show you before attempting it at home. 

Moreover, you can always book an appointment with them so you won’t do it yourself. 

How Do You Prevent Your Dachshund from Having Anal Sac Problems?

Preventing your dachshund from having anal gland problems needs a holistic approach. You can fix these problems using the following strategies:

  • Maintain a healthy fiber-rich diet: A fiber-rich diet produces firmer stools that will express the sacs naturally during defecation.
  • Exercise your dachshund regularly: Regular exercises maintain a healthy weight—obese dogs are more prone to anal sac problems. 
  • Add probiotic supplements to the dog’s diet: These supplements aid in digestion. You can seek more information on using these supplements from your vet.
  • Conduct regular vet check-ups: This will help diagnose any potential problems early.

So, Do Dachshunds Need Their Glands Expressed?

Dachshunds are among the breeds that need their anal sacs expressed regularly due to their small size. The process is relatively simple and can be performed at home, at the vet’s or groomer’s office. 

While there aren’t any significant risks associated with the process, there’s a need for care and attention. So only conduct it if you’re confident with your skills and have consulted a professional. 

Finally, you can fix your dachshund’s anal gland problems with a balanced diet rich in fiber, supplements, regular exercise, and veterinary check-ups.

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