Why Does my Dog Smell Fishy?

By Naomi Millburn

When you love your dog, you love him warts and all. And nothing quite tests your love like that putrid fishy smell which can emanate from your unassuming pooch's rear area! If this occurs, there's a good chance that his anal glands are backed up. Find out what to do.

About Anal Glands

Dogs have glands in their anal areas that are commonly referred to both as "anal glands" and "anal sacs." These glands contain a discharge that has an aggressively disagreeable odor that is similar to old fish. The purpose of the discharge is simple -- to help canines get to know each other by providing helpful details on dogs' "statuses," whether they pertain to physical condition or sex. The dark and fishy fluid typically exits the sacs every time dogs go "No. 2." When the draining doesn't occur as normal, however, it leads to clogged up anal glands.

Signs of Blockage

A fishy odor coming from your dog's behind is one telling indication of backed up anal glands. Apart from the unmistakeable smell, you also might see your dog conspicuously dragging his body around the floor, almost as if he can't stand up properly. When poor doggies scoot around like this, it usually means that they're trying to get rid of the pressure and discomfort that exists due to the clogged sacs. Dogs suffering from impacted sacs also frequently lick and bite their derrieres, too.

Veterinary Care

Though you can learn to empty his anal sacs yourself, many opt to take their suffering pets to the veterinarian at the first sign of a suspiciously fishy smell, especially when in conjunction with rear licking and scooting on the floor. A veterinarian can relieve your pooch by emptying out the nuisance glands -- a relatively straightforward manual squeezing process. She can also examine your dog for any signs of further anal sac difficulties, such as abscesses or infections. The quicker you get your doggie to the vet, the quicker you can relieve him of his icky discomfort -- and figure out if his anal sac problem is something that requires a more careful look.


Fiber can often prevent anal sac impaction in dogs. Diets with ample fiber content promote stools with healthy and strong textures, rather than runny and loose ones. Fecal matter with the right texture can apply tension over the anal sacs during the elimination process, which, in turn, triggers their healthy emptying. If you suspect that your dog isn't getting enough fiber in his diet, speak to your veterinarian about putting together a nutritious, fiber-rich meal plan. Also, some dogs just have a tendency to get blocked up and need to be emptied regularly to prevent complications. In which case, you should find a dog groomer that offers anal sac expression as part of their services. This way, when you take your dog in for his regular grooming, you can have them express his glands as well.

By Naomi Millburn


About the Author
Naomi Millburn has been a freelance writer since 2011. Her areas of writing expertise include arts and crafts, literature, linguistics, traveling, fashion and European and East Asian cultures. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in American literature from Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo.