Are Your Dog’s Anal Glands Causing a Stink?

Are Your Dog’s Anal Glands Causing a Stink?

It’s a delicate matter but something all dogs share. If you’re lucky you may never have to worry about them, but if you’re not so fortunate you may become more acquainted with your dog’s anal glands than you ever dreamed.

Just saying hello

All dogs have a small gland located on each side of their rectal opening. Under ordinary circumstances these little sacs never give any problems. Actually, your dog uses them all the time. Every time he potties or meets another dog and raises his tail in greeting the pressure releases a little of his own personal scent from the glands. That’s why dogs are always so interested in sniffing another dog’s tail area. And why dogs seem obsessed with smelling where another dog has used the bathroom. These little anal gland excretions are full of important information about the other dog.

This exchange of information goes on all the time, right under your nose, so to speak, and most of the time you never have a clue that your dog is surfing the doggy super highway of information. Us humans can’t smell any of these scents (thank goodness).

Some dog’s have to have their anal glands "expressed" every month, and other dog’s may never have it happen. What did dog’s ever do in the wild?

The butt-scootin’ boogie!

There are times when the anal glands become a problem. They can become impacted, abscessed or infected. When this happens that’s when you’ll see your dog doing the classic “butt scoot.” You know the move. Your dog sits in the floor, usually on your clean carpet, and scoots along dragging his butt. You may think he’s trying to clean something off that was left behind when he was pottying but he’s actually feeling a problem with his anal glands. He may have impacted anal glands — they may be too full and they are not properly “expressing” when he goes to the bathroom.

There are other signs that your dog may have a problem with his anal glands:

  • Your dog does the butt scoot
  • Your dog may lick or chew around his rectal area
  • Your dog may have soft stools
  • The rectal area is red and swollen
  • Your dog may have a bad odor coming from his rear

When you notice some of these signs it’s time to take your dog to the vet. Believe me, you do not want the job of expressing your dog’s anal glands yourself. There are few things that smell as bad as the fluid from your dog’s anal glands. What’s more, it’s not very pleasant to poke around in your dog’s rectal area! If you do try to express the glands yourself there is always the chance that you could injure your dog or make an infection worse.

Once your vet has expressed the glands you can use a good waterless shampoo like Dry Dog Instant Clean to help your dog keep the area clean. Dry Dog Instant Clean is also good for getting rid of unpleasant odors which can be a problem if your dog has recurrent troubles with impacted anal glands. It can also help sanitize your dog’s anal gland area — and your hands when you are cleaning the area.

Meat’s for dinner

The best way to keep the anal glands working properly is to make sure you’re feeding your dog the right food. If you are feeding your dog a food that has a high vegetable or cereal content, such as corn, wheat, oats or rice, then you should look for a food that has more meats. The best way for dogs to express their own anal glands is by producing firm stools. It’s believed that foods with higher vegetable and cereal content cause dogs to produce softer stools. When stools are too soft your dog isn’t able to express his anal glands when he potties so the sacs can become impacted and even infected.

Whether you feed kibble, canned or even homemade food, looking for foods with more meat content should help your dog produce firmer stools so he can express his anal glands himself when he potties. That’s good for everybody! The less you see of the butt-scootin’ boogie in your house, the better!

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8 Comments


  1. I adopted 2 dogs that get impacted anal glands and they have the worse breath I have smelt. I feed them Wellness Simply Food, turkey and sweet potatoe. Does the impacted anal glands have anything to do with there bad breath. What brand of food would you recommend? They are both part Rottweiler and one is part sharpei and one is part lab. One was licking herself and it came out. The other one I’ve taken to the vet to have it squeezed out.

    Reply

  2. Hi Dawn,

    Doesn’t look like anyone has an answer for you in 8 months!
    That’s terrible.

    First of all I would like to say thank you for adopting your dogs.
    I wish there where more people like you saving the lives of these beautiful souls.
    I can’t tell you how many animals are euthanized in shelters every week, month, year. It’s truly heart breaking.

    So to all the people that go to private breeders or pet shops, (Pet Land is notorious for getting there puppy’s from puppy mills)
    Remember-there is a wonderful pet for you at a shelter. Don’t keep these ruthless people in business. (Not all privet breeders are bad. Always do your research)

    OK sorry about that dawn lol. As far as your dogs having bad breath-what did your vet tell you? Do they have bad teeth, could they be getting into or eating something in the yard?

    Wellness Simply Food. Turkey and sweet potato is an excellent food for them. But it just may not agree with their systems.
    I prefer Bil-Jack dog food. In my opinion they eat less, gain just the right weight. And you will notice there stool will be dark and very firm. This tells you there getting all the nutrients from the food. Nothings getting left behind lets say 😉

    I doubt very much the impacted anal glands have anything to do with there bad breath. I could be wrong but I never heard of it.

    I have a cocker mix and she has the worse anal gland problem(s) I have ever seen in any dog! It’s on going thing and she’s always doing the scoot and stinks like hell! I have no clue myself how to get rid of this smell.

    I wish the best & sorry no one ever came on here to at least TRY to help you.

    Good Luck and Happy Holidays!

    -Pam

    Reply

  3. My dog also has horrible breath which smells exactly like his anal gland fluid. Even I think it’s unbearable. I too would like to know if it is related to his anal glands. His teeth are clean and his breath has stunk for quite some time now (months – maybe even close to a year – but it seems to have gotten worst). He is 7 (border collie/Boston terrier mix) and I have been feeding him blue Buffalo since he was a year or two. Tonight was my first time successfully expressing his glands and OH BOY was there way more fluid then I expected. It was a steady flow which I was not expecting. Will this help his breath?

    Reply

  4. I have an 8 yr old mini schnauzer and we had the same issue. We started to have his anal glands done at the vet since he was about 5 yrs old, eventually we went from getting them expressed every few months to every 3 weeks. He would always lick himself and licking his rear also made his breath smell horrible. I found some advice online that said to change his protein form whatever he was on to a new protein. We decided to go from chicken to beef and also a grain free food and it worked!!! He has been on Blue Buffalo grain free beef for almost a year now and we never have to have his anal glands expressed…problem solved!

    Reply

  5. My dog has the same problem and the vet told us to start feeding our dog a tablespoon of blueberry yogurt everyday. Believe it or not, it works. She said you can also use canned pumpkin, but my dog won’t eat that.

    Reply

    1. Did you say that the yogurt was for bad breath or anal glands or both?

      Reply

  6. Can my dog have it.s Anel glan removed .

    Reply

    1. We adopted a chug, and we started noticing that horrible smell coming out of nowhere, poor little thing, is like having a little skunk, I am going to try all the tips I found here.

      Reply

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