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Grooming for Dogs—Ear Cleaning, Anal Glands and Nail Clips

In this article we will explore three essential grooming tasks: cleaning your dog's ears, expressing anal glands and clipping their nails. By familiarising yourself with the proper techniques you can confidently incorporate these practices into your pup's regular grooming routine.


Cleaning your dog's ears regularly is extremely important as it allows you to check for problems or ear infections. Some breeds are more susceptible than others, including dogs with pendulous ears or dogs with hairy inner ear flaps. Dogs with allergies are also at risk.

It's a good idea to get your dog used to having their ears handled so that they become comfortable with the routine.

How To Clean Your Dog’s Ears

1. Gather the necessary supplies. You'll need cotton balls or pads, a veterinarian-approved ear cleaning solution (do not use alcohol or hydrogen peroxide unless specifically recommended by your vet), and treats to reward your dog.

2. Find a quiet and comfortable space. Choose a calm area where you and your dog can both relax during the cleaning process. It's also a good idea to have someone assist you in holding your dog, especially if they are not used to having their ears cleaned.

3. Inspect the ears. Before you start cleaning, examine your dog's ears for any signs of redness, swelling, discharge or a foul odour. If you notice anything unusual or your dog's ears appear to be infected, please consult with our vets before proceeding.

4. Apply the ear cleaning solution. Following the instructions on the product, gently lift your dog's ear flap and squeeze a few drops of the ear cleaning solution into the ear canal. Make sure not to insert the dropper or any other objects deep into the ear canal, as this can cause damage.

5. Massage the base of the ear. Gently massage the base of the ear in a circular motion for about 20 to 30 seconds. This helps distribute the ear cleaning solution and loosen any debris or wax buildup inside the ear canal.

6. Wipe away debris. Take a cotton ball or pad and carefully wipe away any debris, wax or excess ear cleaning solution from the visible parts of the ear canal. Avoid pushing the cotton ball too far into the ear canal to prevent injury. Use a fresh cotton ball for each wipe.

7. Repeat on the other ear. If your dog's ears are clean, repeat the same process on the other ear.

8. Reward your dog. After you've finished cleaning, praise and reward your dog with treats or a favourite toy to make the experience positive. This will help your dog associate ear cleaning with something enjoyable.

It's important to note that while regular ear cleaning is beneficial, excessive cleaning or using improper techniques can cause harm to your dog's ears. If you're unsure or have any concerns, it's always best to consult our vets for guidance specific about your dog's needs.

Anal Glands

Anal glands are two grape sized scent glands that sit just inside the bottom (typically in the four o’clock and eight o’clock positions), and are used by dogs to mark their faeces with their own special scent. They may become blocked, becoming intensely itchy and painful. Left untreated, impacted anal glands can lead to serious infection.

How can I tell if my dog’s anal glands are full?

In addition to scooting, you may also notice:

  • A stinky, pungent smell.

  • Spots of brownish material where your dog has been sitting.

  • Your dog is licking their bottom more than usual.

How to Express Your Dog’s Anal Glands

Expressing a dog's anal glands is a procedure that should ideally be performed by a professional, such as a veterinarian, veterinary nurse or a groomer. However, if you're comfortable doing it yourself and have been instructed by a professional on the proper technique, here is a general guide on how to express your dog's anal glands:

1. Prepare the necessary supplies. You will need disposable gloves, paper towels and possibly some lubricant such as petroleum jelly or water-based lubricant.

2. Position your dog. Find a calm and comfortable area where you can safely and securely position your dog. You may need someone to help hold your dog if they tend to be anxious or fidgety during the procedure.

3. Put on gloves. To maintain cleanliness and prevent the spread of bacteria, put on a pair of disposable gloves.

4. Locate the anal glands. The anal glands are located on either side of your dog's anus, at approximately the four o'clock and eight o'clock positions. They are small sacs that can become filled with fluid or debris.

5. Apply lubricant (if necessary). If the anal glands are impacted or the secretion is thick, you may need to apply a small amount of lubricant around the anus to help ease the expression process. Be cautious with the amount and type of lubricant used to avoid causing irritation or harm.

6. Express the anal glands. Place your gloved finger or thumb on one side of the anus and gently apply inward and upward pressure towards the gland. Use a firm but gentle motion to squeeze the gland and encourage the release of the fluid. Be prepared for the fluid to come out and have paper towels ready to catch any discharge.

7. Repeat on the other side. Once you have expressed one side, repeat the process on the other side.

8. Clean up and disinfect. After expressing the anal glands, clean the area around the anus with a damp cloth or mild pet-friendly wipes. Dispose of the gloves and paper towels properly. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water.

It's crucial to note that expressing anal glands can be uncomfortable for your dog and should only be done when necessary. If you are unsure about how to properly express your dog's anal glands or if your dog is experiencing any discomfort or signs of infection, it's best to consult with our vets for assistance.


Clipping your dog's nails is an essential part of their grooming routine. A good rule of thumb is that you should trim your dog's nails, or have them trimmed, as often as it takes to prevent their nails from touching the ground when they're standing. Nails left untrimmed can lead to discomfort and other complications.

How to Clip Your Dog’s Nails

1. Gather the necessary supplies. You'll need a pair of dog nail clippers (choose either guillotine-style clippers or scissor-style clippers depending on your preference), styptic powder (to stop bleeding in case of accidental cuts) and treats as rewards for your dog's cooperation.

2. Get your dog comfortable. Find a quiet and well-lit area where you can comfortably and safely trim your dog's nails. Ensure that both you and your dog are relaxed before starting the process.

3. Familiarise your dog with the clippers. Introduce your dog to the clippers by allowing them to sniff and examine them. This helps them become more comfortable with the tool and reduces anxiety.

4. Observe the nails. Examine your dog's nails and look for the quick, which is a pink area within the nail that contains blood vessels and nerves. Be cautious not to cut into the quick, as it can cause bleeding and pain.

5. Begin with small clips. Start by trimming a small amount of the nail tip at a time. Gradually work your way back, making multiple small cuts, rather than attempting to cut a large portion of the nail at once. This approach helps prevent cutting into the quick.

6. Mind the angle. Hold the clippers perpendicular to the nail and make a straight cut across the tip. Avoid cutting at an angle, as it can cause the nail to splinter or break.

7. Watch for signs of distress. Pay attention to your dog's body language and reactions during the process. If your dog becomes anxious, stressed or shows signs of discomfort, take a break and try again later or on another day. It's important to maintain a positive and calm environment during nail trimming.

8. Use treats and positive reinforcement. Offer treats and praise throughout the process to reward your dog for their cooperation. This helps create a positive association with nail trimming and makes future sessions easier.

9. Stop bleeding if necessary. In the event of accidental bleeding, apply styptic powder to the nail tip and apply gentle pressure to stop the bleeding. If bleeding persists or if you have concerns, consult with our vets.

Remember, if you're unsure or uncomfortable trimming your dog's nails, it's always best to seek guidance from our nurses or a professional groomer. They can show you the proper technique and assist you in safely maintaining your dog's nails.


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