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The Smelly Facts: Puppy and Dog Anal Gland Odour

The Smelly Facts: Puppy and Dog Anal Gland Odour

As a dog owner, there's no getting around the fact that sometimes our beloved pup can get a bit smelly. Sometimes this smell doesn't go away even after a bath and it may actually be coming from somewhere near their tail, their anal glands. Although this smell can be pretty pungent anal glands are vital to a dog's well-being, even though many dog owners find their unpleasant smell overwhelming and unattractive. In this article, we will explore the smelly facts about puppy and dog anal gland odour, its causes, and possible solutions to keep your furry friend smelling fresh.

Understanding Anal Glands in Dogs

Anal glands are small sacs on each side of a dog's anus. Normal bowel motions allow the fluid to be naturally expelled, but the glands may become obstructed and unable to do so occasionally. This may result in the growth of bacteria and lead them to give off a foul smell.

Anatomy of Anal Glands in Dogs:

Dogs' anal glands, which consist of two tiny sacs and are situated on either side of the anus, secrete a fluid that is used to mark territories and to communicate with other dogs. These sacs are lined with specialised cells that produce and secrete the fluid, which is then released through small ducts when a dog poops or is under stress.

Anal Glands in Puppies vs. Adult Dogs:

Anal glands are underdeveloped at birth and do not fully develop until a puppy is between four and six months old. Therefore, puppies are less prone to problems with their anal glands in their first few months. 

Anal glands get more active as they develop and mature, though, so adult dogs are more vulnerable to problems with their anal glands. Small breeds, are even more likely to have issues with their glands as their glands are smaller in size and can develop problems more quickly.

Importance of Anal Glands in Dogs' Health:

Although problems with the anal glands can be upsetting for dog owners, the glands are crucial to a dog's general health and well-being. 

The fluid in anal glands includes vital pheromones and chemical signals required for canine communication. Impacted or infected glands can cause your dog to be in pain and if left untreated and lead to life-threatening conditions, including abscesses and ruptures.

Causes of Anal Gland Odour in Dogs

Puppy and dog anal gland odour is caused by the fluid produced by the anal glands, which can have a strong, musky smell. The odour can sometimes be so strong that it is noticeable from a distance. It is natural for this fluid to smell fishy but if you notice the smell change or become more foul then this may be a sign there is something wrong with your dog’s glands.

Some of the most common causes of anal gland odour in dogs are:


Impaction is one of the most frequent causes of anal gland smell. Impaction happens when the anal fluid hardens and becomes challenging to express. This may result in discomfort, pain, and a bad smell.


If anal glands aren’t naturally expressed they can get infected, producing a bad scent. This happens because  bacteria can get inside the gland and start an infection and create smelly pus


A dog's diet may also be a factor in anal gland odour. For example, the expression of the anal glands can be impacted by a diet that contains too much fat or not enough fibre, which can make their stool too soft. An ideal solution to help get enough fibre into your dog's diet are our Scoot Stopper chews, which are packed with fibre and are designed to help maintain regular bowel movements and help produce well formed, easier to pass poops. Additionally, some foods may make the stool smell strong, intensifying the scent from the anal glands. 


Dogs who have allergies may also have problems with their anal glands. Allergy symptoms such as dermatitis may result in swelling and stinging in the area around the anus, which may encourage excessive licking or biting. This may further aggravate the anal glands and result in a pungent smell.


Some breeds are more likely to have anal gland issues than others. For example, some small breeds, such as Chihuahuas and Pugs, are more likely to have issues with their anal glands due to the small size of their glands and the shape of their anus.

Tips to Control and Eliminate Anal Gland Odour in Dogs

While anal gland odour can be challenging, several ways exist to control and eliminate the smell. Here are some tips:

  1. Regular Anal Gland Expression: Expressing your dog's anal glands can help prevent impaction and reduce odour. However, it is important this is done correctly so should only be done by a professional groomer or vet. Alternatively you can ask your vet or groomer to show you how to do this yourself properly, be warned though this can be a smelly unpleasant job!
  2. Dietary Changes: Switching to a high-fibre diet can help regulate bowel movements and reduce gland blockages.
  3. Good Hygiene: Keeping your dog's anal area clean and dry can prevent bacterial infections and reduce odour. Regular grooming and wiping the area with unscented baby wipes can help.
  4. Stress Management: Reducing stress and anxiety in your dog can reduce excessive licking and chewing of the anal area.

When to See a Vet for Anal Gland Issues

While normal anal gland expression helps reduce impaction and smell, dogs occasionally experience more significant problems requiring medical care. The most common symptoms that indicate it is time to see a vet are:

  • Excessive scooting or dragging of the bottom.
  • Licking or biting the anal area.
  • Swelling or discharge from the anal area.
  • The foul-smelling odour persists even after regular grooming and expression.
  • Persistent pain or discomfort around the anus.

Consult a vet right away if you see any of these symptoms. Your vet can examine your dog to identify the problem's root cause and suggest a plan of action for treatment. This may include  expressing their anal glands, using antibiotics to treat an infection, or changing their diet to avoid problems in the future.


Many dog owners find anal gland odour a frustrating problem, but it's vital to remember that it's a normal aspect of a dog's anatomy and health. You can keep your furry buddy smelling fresh and healthy by being aware of the reasons for the scent and how to manage and get rid of it. 

However, it is always better to get veterinary care if you notice any signs of more serious problems. Most anal gland problems can be properly cured or controlled with the right care and attention, assuring your dog's health and well-being.

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