Do Golden Retrievers Need Their Glands Expressed? Why, When, & How

Lately, my golden retriever is scooting all over my carpet leaving a fishy smell and I already know that it’s a sign of a problem with their anal glands/

I had that problem before and I took them to a groomer because expressing their anal glands is one of the most unpleasing things because it leaves an awful smell all over me that is not easy to wash away.

But do goldens need their glands expressed often? I did some research and found some interesting answers;

So, do golden retrievers need their glands expressed? Yes, your golden retriever needs his glands to be expressed every six months, you can take them to the vet or you can learn to do it yourself, however, if you do it too often, it can potentially lead to anal gland sacculties and inflammation.

But how to know that you need to express your dog’s anal glands and why do some dogs need their anal glands expressed? Keep reading to learn more.

Why Do Some Dogs Need Their Anal Glands Expressed? 

golden retriever at the doctor to explain why do golden retrievers need their anal glands expressed

Some dogs have a problem expressing their anal glands normally and they need to have them expressed for them.

However, dogs normally empty a small part of their anal glands when they poop and they can also express their anal glands when they are excited or nervous.

Plus, if you don’t express their anal glands, they will a fishy smell all over the house, on the carpet, the furniture, and they may also leave a brownish residue wherever they sit. They can also smell like fish for other reasons, and you can find out why your golden retriever smells like fish here.

How to know you need to express your dog’s anal glands? 

When dogs need their anal glands to be expressed, they will show some noticeable signs.

Here are 4 signs that your dog needs their glands expressed:

  1. Rubbing their butt on the carpet (scooting)
  2. A pungent odor coming from their anus 
  3. Obsessively licking their bottom area.
  4. A brownish residue left wherever your dog was sitting. 

How to express your golden retriever’s anal glands at home

There are two ways to express your golden’s anal glands at home, one is external and the other is internal and I am gonna tell you how to do both ways.

Firstly: the external way

The anal glands are two structures that are about the size of a grape and they are located just inside their anal opening so you can’t see them from outside.


There is one on the left and one is on the right, so let’s start and see how this method is going to work and don’t worry this one is a little bit easier.

Take about an inch on each side of the anal opening and gently compress together in the area until you see few drops coming out and that’s it, that’s the external method, told you it was easy.

Secondly: The internal way

  • Lift up their tail
  • Insert just the tip of your index finger into the anal opening 
  • Squeeze from the outside with your thumb 
  • Be very gentle about it 
  • A brownish fluid supposed to come out (if the fluid is thick, it may indicate that they have a problem)
  • You need to clean the area very well 
  • You will need some wipes, vets recommend Glandex wipes (Amazon link) because it’s specially designed for this process and it will not irritate your dog’s skin and it has aloe vera to help soothe the area and vitamin E.
  • Gently wipe the area as much as you can.
  • Give them a treat for well-behaving and being such a good boi but how about giving them Glandex anal glands supplement treats, they are specifically designed for pets with anal glands issues and vets recommend it to help with the problem 

You will also find this video useful as well:

How often do dogs need their anal glands expressed? 

Some dogs need their anal glands expressed on a regular basis, for example, every six months or even once a year.

You need to understand something; first, every dog’s anus is flanked by two anal glands designed to release a unique scent.

They use that scent to communicate with each other and you guessed it that is why they smell each other’s tails or why they smell other dog’s poop because that scent is released in their stool when they poop.

However, for most dogs, these filled glands empty themselves out every time your dog defecates but if the glands fail to empty, they will be impacted and they can even rupture.

How much does it cost to express dog glands?

It can cost you $5-10 to express your dog’s glands at a groomer or $50-100 if a vet does it, and we recommend you take them to the vet because the vet will fix the issue once and for all.

The vet will get to the bottom of the recurring issue and their cost will include preventing it from happening again and an opinion from an expert.

The groomer is also trained on how to do it by a professional or a vet.

What happens when a dog’s glands are full?

When a dog’s glands are full, it can create pressure which will make them feel uncomfortable.

If this happens, your dog might display some symptoms that indicate anal glands problems and it’s the same symptoms that I mentioned above.

What causes dog glands to fill?

These are the common causes dog glands can fill up:

  • There isn’t enough pressure to empty their glands, for example, if they had diarrhea for a couple of days so their glands haven’t emptied properly.
  • Infections
  • Inflammation of the anal sacs 
  • Skin disorders 
  • Poor muscle tone
  • Trauma 
  • Obesity 
  • tumor
  • Excessive gland production 

What dog breeds need their glands expressed?

There are some certain breeds that need their glands expressed monthly. So here are some of these breeds:

  • Beagles 
  • Toy poodles 
  • Chihuahuas 
  • Cocker spaniels 
  • Basset hounds 
  • Miniature poodles 
  • Lhasa apsos 
  • Dachshund 

If you liked this article or know someone that is suffering from the same problem with their dog, you can share it with them, it might be helpful to them and I will certainly appreciate it.

Related Questions 

What does it smell like when your dog needs glands expressed?

When dogs need their glands expressed, it will smell like fish, they secrete that smell from their anal sacs, and that fishy smell can mean two things, one; their anal glands need to be expressed, or two; they are scared, you can read more about it in this article to understand it better.

What happens if you don’t express your dog’s anal glands? 

Impacted glands can lead to their anal glands and ducts swelling, shutting, or their discharge might become too thick that your dog can’t pass it, however, you should not express their anal glands too often because it can lead to some infections and diseases as well.

Helpful Resources

Can I Express My Dog’s Anal Glands at Home?

Living with a Retriever: Recommendations and Sources

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