What to Do if Your Dog Has Smelly Anal Glands

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Dogs usually express their anal glands when eliminating.
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Sometimes, our dogs can require a lot from us, with some tasks far more gross and embarrassing than others. Case in point: anal gland maintenance. Smelly anal glands on a dog are not just offensive to our senses of smell, it can also be uncomfortable for our canines, and usually requires intervention on our part. If your dog's smelly glands are getting to either of you, check for signs that they may be impacted before considering possible treatment options.


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What are anal glands?

Anal glands, otherwise known as anal sacs, are glands located in a dog's anus for scent distribution, according to Preventative Vet. These glands are filled with sebaceous fluid which passes through a dog's anus when she has a bowel movement, and emits an odor which helps dogs mark their territory and communicate necessary information with other curious dogs upon meeting. Additionally, the secretion helps dogs pass their poop easily. When a dogs anal glands become impacted, they can not only make using the bathroom uncomfortable, they may also rupture or abscess, leading to pain and requiring medical intervention.


Signs of impacted glands

You may be able to tell if your dog has impacted anal glands a number of ways, one being the odor. If your dog's butt smells like fish, chances are her anal glands are impacted with sebum. Additionally, dogs with impacted anal glands will often lick the area excessively in an effort to ease the irritation that comes with it. Some dogs may also scoot or drag their butts across the floor or grass for the same reason, which may look comical (or gross, depending on your sense of humor and standard for cleanliness) but is actually a sign that those glands are in need of attention.


Treat dogs' smelly glands

To deal with your dog's smelly glands, they will need to be expressed to get things functioning normally again. It is recommended that pet guardians enlist the help of a professional like a veterinarian or groomer to express these glands, as improper expression can injure your dog. Before you get started, be sure to grab your supplies, including a pair of disposable gloves, a towel, lubricant, soapy water and a helper, if possible, suggests Tavares Animal Hospital.


To start, have your helper hold your dog steady, apply lubricant to your gloved index finger, and locate the anal glands on your dog. These glands are pea sized and can be found on either side of the anus, usually right around the bottom at the 4 and 8 o'clock positions. Then, rest your thumb on the outside of the anus and insert your finger to just past the muscle.


When you've located the gland inside, gently squeeze with your thumb and finger until a milky liquid comes out, using a towel to clean up the mess. Repeat with the other gland, and rinse the area with soapy water. For anal gland health and maintenance, be sure to have plenty of water available for your dog to enjoy, and consider switching your dog to a high fiber diet if you notice persistent anal gland blockages or ruptures.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.