How to Clean Your Dog's Scent Gland

Underneath that tail rest your dog's anal glands.
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On each side of your dog’s anus is a small pocket of oil known as an anal gland or scent gland. These glands express a scent unique to your pooch. They normally empty or express themselves when your dog goes potty, but they can occasionally require human intervention when they become clogged.

Step 1

Ask your veterinarian to show you how to properly clean your dog’s scent glands before attempting to do so at home. You can rupture them if you do it incorrectly.

Step 2

Fill the bathtub with a few inches of warm water and lift the dog into the tub. Cleaning his scent glands can be messy, and doing it during a bath makes cleanup a breeze. Protect your hands with a pair of rubber gloves.

Step 3

Slip a bather’s noose around your dog’s head and attach it to the side of the bathtub with the suction cup at the top of the noose. If you don’t have a bather’s noose, clip a leash to the dog’s collar to help keep him under control.

Step 4

Wet the dog from head to tail and squeeze a bit of dog shampoo along his back. Rub the shampoo over his body, concentrating on his hindquarters and the underside of his tail. Lift his tail and gently scrub his anal region with your hands.

Step 5

Hold a paper towel in your hand and place your thumb and index finger slightly below each side of the dog’s anus, at the 4 o'clock and 8 o'clock positions. Lift the tail with your free hand. Push in and up with your finger and thumb. As you push in, bring your fingers together in a pinching motion to expel oil from the scent glands.

Step 6

Discard the paper towel and rewash the area under your dog’s tail. The paper towel catches most of the oil, but the quick wash will make sure your dog is clean and free of stinky oils. Rinse the dog with clean water from the tap and dry him with a bath towel.


  • Don’t punish the dog if he moves or tries to pull away. Cleaning scent glands is uncomfortable, and even the most patient dog may try to escape.

Items You Will Need

  • Bathing noose or leash
  • Rubber gloves
  • Dog shampoo
  • Paper towels
  • Bath towel