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It is great to have a dog at home. Many prefer dogs to enjoy, relax, play, and have unconditional love. But owning a dog is not only about that.

You need to give them the right care and maintain them in order to prevent them from any health issues. And one such thing you need to consider is the dog anal gland smell. Although dogs are fun, this is not. 

Do you exactly know what anal glands are? Most people do not know but it is important. Many owners will be stumped when they get the smell of a pungent, fishy odor that comes from their dogs. Although cats have these issues, it is dogs who will have it the most. 

dog anal gland smell

It is a way of communicating with dogs. The glands will secrete an odor that helps the dogs to mark their territory. They can also be infected or blocked similar to other glands in the body. 

We will be discussing what are anal glands, where it is located, remedies for dog anal gland smell, and how to deal with an infected gland. 

Although it is difficult to get rid of the dog anal gland smell, you can still make it fine with a few steps. So keep reading to know how to get rid of them. 

What are anal glands in dogs? 

Anal glands also called anal sacs are specialized glands. They are two small pouches located on both sides of the dog’s anus. It ranges from about the size of a pea to the size of a grape.

The openings are located just inside the anus and both male and female dogs can have them. These sweat glands produce an unpleasant-smelling secretion that ranges from being a thick liquid to a thick paste. 

It is mainly believed to be a scent marking gland that marks the stools as they excrete, and so found to help the dog to leave a scent marker. If the dog is nervous or startled, the gland will express it. 

It will be a unique and unpleasant smell for humans, but for dogs, it is used to identify each other, and mark territories. Some believe that it helps with lubrication.

If the glands get too full, they will get expressed naturally and will make the house a mess. As a result, you will find smelly marks around the house, and things including carpets, sofa, blankets, and chairs. 

The important thing that needs to be considered is that this smell that comes from the specialized sweat glands is there for a purpose and so it should not be eliminated completely. 

Why does my dog smell like fish? 

There are several reasons that your dog can be smelly, and the most common reason is anal sac disease. The issues that come with anal glands are described as anal sac diseases. 

Dog anal gland smell is more useful than you think and more than the domesticated dogs, the purpose of the anal gland is more important for the wild dogs. As it uses it warns predators.  They leave a unique odor in the poop and when other dog smells the poop, they will know that there was another dog there and it can identify the dog if they have met before. 

wild dogs anal gland

Experts believe that it helps the dog lubricate the poop to make sure of a smooth process. But the exact purpose of the anal gland has not been accurately pinpointed. Even though it serves a great purpose, there are some issues related to it.

Some anal gland issues are

What are the signs of anal gland issues in dogs? 

The anal gland problems in dogs can arise from anal gland fluid. There are some signs and symptoms you can notice in your dogs if they have anal gland issues.

Your pet should express her anal glands naturally when she defecates, but many will get into problems. Small-breed dogs, overweight dogs, and pets with inflammatory allergies, are more likely to develop anal gland problems.

This requires regular manual expression in order to avoid painful abscesses.

The glands can become inflamed, infected, and impacted if the anal gland fluid is not expressed routinely. The material would thicken and becomes difficult to pass. Without relief, the anal gland can rupture. 


You might have mostly noticed the dog doing this. This is the first sign of the dog’s anal glands that start to cause trouble.  It is your dog sitting on the ground and dragging his rear end along the floor in a scooting manner. They do this when they get uncomfortable or when their anal gland is full.

If your dog is scooting repeatedly, you need to assess the doctor as it also can be due to skin irritations, allergies, and skin infections. 

Some dogs that have normal size glands will scoot and benefit from having them emptied.

Excessive licking 

When they itch and lick in that area excessively, it is a sign of the dog’s anal sacs that need to be emptied. If you notice them doing this, you need to give them attention. 

Blood and Pus

You may notice the blood and pus start to appear around the area and a foul smell. It is because the anal sacs have become infected. It is better to seek immediate treatment if you find an infection in your dog. 

Swelling and redness in the anal area 

If you ever notice swelling or redness in the area, then things will start to get more serious. This is because the anal gland issue is affecting the whole sac and it causes internal swelling that starts to become noticeable on the outside. Sometimes you may notice the blood in the stool in the hair or on the carpet.

The anal sac disease

anal sac disease

The anal sac is a frequent disease that comes in young pups and is common in small breed dogs. Other than that dogs that are prone to obesity, genetics, and dogs who suffer from soft stools, food intolerances, and dermatitis are at high risk of developing issues with anal sacs.

Your dog will feel discomfort and will not be able to communicate.

So it is important to give attention to the dog at these times. If your dog has past experience with these anal sac problems then you need to be more concerned about them.

If you find your dog with the symptoms, it needs to be treated properly when it gets progressed to the anal sac disease. Mostly you need to be concerned about adding fiber to the diet of your pet which will help the dog’s poop, daily exercise to overcome obesity and treatment for dermatitis.

Other than scooting and licking, your dog may even vocalize its discomfort while pooping due to the pain that it suffers. You may notice blood in the stool, around the stool, and around the dog’s anus.

It is highly possible for you to catch the disease early and when the dog is only scooting and licking. And this is the best way to prevent anal sac disease.

If it is more severe, the anal sacs will not be naturally expressed, your vet may suggest removal. Suppose the inflammations or infections continue or the dog developed an anal sac tumor. So that the best solution is to remove the anal sacs. Nearly 100% of the dogs get recovered after the surgery. This won’t affect the quality of life.

Do not allow the situation to get to the point of anal sac disease and so you need to be more conscious of the symptoms. 

What is the best way to get rid of Dog anal gland smell?

dog anal gland smell

It is not always a problem if your dog’s anal sacs are full. Because in most cases, the dogs can empty themselves or can be manually expressed for maintenance. If your dogs are leaving the scent marker around the house or if you need to drain the sacs on your own,  you can take care of this problem in some ways, and get rid of the dog anal gland smell on your own.

Expressing the anal gland

An obvious solution to the dog anal gland smell is expressing them periodically.  If your dog is fine in emptying his anal glands without any help, then there isn’t a need to manually express them.

You can ask for suggestions from the vet about the best solution if the pet has had constant issues in the past with expressing the anal gland. If you go on expressing the glands too much, it could damage the area and will cause scar tissue to build up and clog the anal sacs. 

A good diet

Adding fiber to the diet of your dog is important to help the poop of the dog, especially if the dog is suffering from chronic soft stools or loose stool.

This is because the stools are not firm enough to help release the liquids during defecation, and not enough pressure to help expel the liquid. Adding fiber helps to improve the gut health of the dog.

Dogs need to eat healthy foods to maintain good health. If they eat a proper diet, they can prevent issues like obesity and other health problems and so can avoid dog anal gland smell issues.

You need to make sure that they eat a balanced diet because dogs who eat healthy diets have few health problems and tend to live longer. 

You can provide them with supplements like probiotics and prebiotics that promote gut health and makes it easy to pass the stool easily. So it will eliminate the anal sac fluid and it will be more consistent.

You can add some fiber supplements like pumpkin puree which is popular and effective, moreover, it is recommended by many experts. If you add this sweet topping to every meal for the dog, it will love it.

You can also consider giving them carrots and other ingredients that are rich in fiber and harmless to dogs. You can give them as rewards and healthy treats throughout the day.

But before giving them, make sure how your dog reacts to the new ingredient by giving them food in small amounts so that you can confirm whether the dog has an intolerance or allergies to those specific foods.  

Hot compress

If you notice redness, itchiness, or swelling in that area, you can do a warm or hot compress to the area to reduce the pain.

Keep them hydrated

Your dog needs plenty of water to drink and one simple solution to add more water content to moisture the dog is to add more liquid to the food they eat. Most pets like to drink the moving water than the plain, and motionless water you keep in the bowl. So that you can buy a pet drinking fountain for them to drink more water whenever they want.

Weight loss

Obesity is one of the reasons why your dog gets anal gland smell issues. That doesn’t mean that skinny dogs do not get it. But if your dog is going to lose a few extra pounds by switching foods or going on a diet, it may help to alleviate the pressure, and the sacs will get empty more easily.

Provide them with regular exercises that promote consistent elimination to encourage the anal sac emptying.

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