Why Do Dog’s Anal Glands Smell

August 16, 2022by DOGuide0

If your dog’s anal glands smell, Dog Ownership Guide can help. Anal gland problems aren’t impossible to solve.

Why Do Dog’s Anal Glands Smell

The reason your dog’s anal glands smell is that your dog doesn’t express them while pooping. When a dog’s anal glands aren’t expressed, they fill up with fluid. The fluid in the anal sacs smells really bad, as you know now.

The reason dogs have anal glands and fluid in them is to mark their territory after a bowel movement. By squirting a small amount of the anal fluid, other animals know that spot has been claimed.


dog anal glands smell


How Dogs Naturally Express Anal Glands

Dogs naturally express their anal glands when they poop. As the stool comes out of their anus, it squeezes the anal sacs. That’s when anal gland secretions occur reducing the amount of that smelly fluid.

When Dogs Don’t Have Anal Gland Secretions

Dogs with soft stools don’t expand the anus enough to squeeze the anal sacs enough for secretions. While it’s okay to have soft stools once and a while, regular or chronic soft stools lead to anal gland problems.

Small dogs are more susceptible to anal gland issues because their anus is so small. The power isn’t enough to squeeze the anal glands enough to express.

Manual Anal Gland Expression

Dogs that don’t have natural anal gland expression will need to have them manually expressed. Most people don’t particularly enjoy manually expressing a dog’s anal glands, but the consequences of not doing it are worse.

When You Don’t Express Anal Glands

Most people searching for “dog’s anal glands smell” are already experiencing the first consequence. A putrid odor comes off their dog, and sometimes, ends up on the couch, clothes, etc.

The reality is if the dog’s anal glands aren’t expressed, the sacs fill up and the fluid will ooze on its own. Unfortunately, that doesn’t solve the anal gland issue, though.

The tiny bit of secretion isn’t enough to relieve a dog’s anal glands. After a while, a dog may suffer from anal sac disease. The symptoms of anal sac disease are:

  • Anal Gland Impaction
  • Anal Gland Infection
  • Abscesses

Impacted anal glands mean that they are so full, that it’s extremely hard to get all of the fluid out. Most of the time, it takes a veterinarian to help relieve the anal gland impaction.

For anal gland infection, a veterinarian will need to manipulate the dog’s anus manually to express the dog’s anal glands. Once the small sacs are completely clear, antibiotics may be prescribed to treat the infection.

Abscesses are serious and require immediate attention from a veterinarian. Surgery may need to be performed to remove the abscesses.

How to Express Dog Anal Glands

Some people are completely fine with expressing a dog’s anal glands, while others do not want to go near their dog’s anus. If you’re able to endure the thought of touching and poking your dog’s anal area, you likely can do this yourself.

The best place to express your dog’s anal sacs is in the bathtub. When the dog’s anal sacs squirt, you’ll want it in a place you can easily wash it.

Manual expression is simply finding your dog’s anal sacs. They are on each side of the anus but a bit lower than the middle. You will feel them if you poke around on each side of the anus. Once you find them, place your thumb on the outer side of the left anal sac and the index finger on the outer side of the right anal sac.

Squeeze your thumb and index finger together to bring the sacs close to the anus and you should see either anal gland fluid leak out of the anus or it will squirt out. The fishy smell has a foul odor, so be prepared for that as well.

After you’ve performed the expressions about 3 times, you should see that either there isn’t any more anal gland fluid coming out or it’s only a small amount.

For a better idea of how to perform manual expression, watch this video:

Signs of Impacted Anal Sacs

If you try to express the anal glands and nothing comes out, there’s a chance they could be impacted. There’s also a chance you’re not doing it right.

If you can’t get anal gland fluid to come out of the anus, call the veterinarian or groomer. Either of these professionals can express anal glands.

If they can’t get them to express, that’s when it’s pretty certain there are impacted anal sacs.

Signs of Infected Anal Glands

Infected anal glands are often impacted. The anal sacs are painful and you may see that your dog’s rear end is red, swollen, and irritated. Infections must be treated by a veterinarian. After resolving the issue with the impacted glands, the vet will prescribe antibiotics to treat the infection.

You don’t want to ignore impacted glands. If they become infected and that infection gets worse, you could end up spending a lot of money on vet bills. Unless you have dog insurance. You can learn more about that by reading: How Does Dog Insurance Work?


vet anal glands


How to Prevent Your Dog’s Anal Glands from Smelling

If your dog’s stool is often loose, you can add fiber to your dog’s diet to firm up the stool. Dog Ownership Guide recommends Psyllium Husk. Mix it with water and bits of meat for flavor. D.O.G. Hera has loose stools a lot.

Whenever we get a hit of that fishy smell, we mix up a couple of tablespoons of the Physillium Husk with water and throw in some chicken. She gobbles it up and her next bowel movement is firm and you can see her anal glands being expressed.

For those feeding a fresh raw dog food diet, consider adding ingredients that are high in fiber, such as:

  • Ground Flaxseed
  • Beet Pulp
  • Pumpkin
  • Apples
  • Carrots
  • Green Beans
  • Brown Rice

Actually, you should consider looking into Only Natural Pet. They offer food for dogs that contain the above ingredients. All you have to do is add water because they are dehydrated. Makes feeding your dog healthy fresh food easy. Learn more about it here: Is Only Natural Pet Food Good

You can also read another article on the topic of food and anal glands here: Best Dog Food for Anal Gland Issues

Prevent Dog Anal Gland Smell

Now you know why your dog’s anal glands smell. The fluid is a scent marker that warns other pets and animals about their territory. You also know that if your dog’s bowel movement produces loose stools, anal gland fluid can build up causing some smelly issues that could lead to infection and surgery if not treated soon enough.

Take care of that fishy smell now and then prevent your dog’s anal glands from smelling by either adding fiber to your dog’s diet or supplementing with Physillium Husk once and a while.


physillium husk



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