The culprit can be the glands that nobody wants to talk about!

Anal glands (anal sacs) are a pair of tiny sacs located just inside your pet’s anus on either side. The fluid produced from these glands has a unique and very pungent odor. It is believed that these glands serve an important function in social ranking. When dogs meet and sniff around each other’s behinds, the scents released by their anal glands reveal information about their hormonal status. Dogs may also express their anal sacs when they are scared, as a form of a response. Expressing their glands allows a dog to leave a trail of their own scent behind to claim their territory.


When are anal glands a problem?

Typically, a normal bowel movement is usually all your dog needs to sufficiently express and empty their anal glands. However, these glands may get impacted due to dietary insufficiencies, chronic soft stools, food and environmental allergies, skin conditions, lifestyle changes, and even genetics. This impaction can be very uncomfortable and itchy, lead to an infection, and even an abscess if not treated. Signs your pet may have an anal gland issue:
  • If you notice your dog scooting their rear end on the carpet or grass, they may be trying to help release the secretion buildup in their anal glands, or are trying to help stop the itch that can come with impacted anal glands.
  • Signs of painful pooping, like straining or whining while trying to go.
  • Blood and/or pus in their poop or around the anal area.
  • Extreme licking, being protective of their anal area, or tucking their tail.
  • An unpleasant and ongoing fishy smell coming from your dog and/or being left behind wherever they were seated.
  • Visibly inflamed or bulging glands

Some breeds are more prone to having anal gland issues than others. Small to medium-sized breeds, such as Poodles, Chihuahuas, Lhasa Apsos, Cocker Spaniels, Basset Hounds, and Beagles are a few that rank at the top of the list.

If left untreated, impacted anal glands can become quite a bad problem. It’s best to leave the treatment of an impacted anal gland up to your veterinarian so that they can ensure the glands are expressed thoroughly and properly to avoid any further trauma to your pet.



You can help prevent anal gland issues by making sure your dog is on a high-quality diet that provides sufficient fiber and other necessary nutrients. Some recommendations include Royal Canin, Purina Proplan, and Science Diet. Also, an overweight or obese dog is more likely to get impacted anal glands, so keeping your dog active and at an ideal weight is very important. If your dog has chronically impacted anal glands there are several commercially available anal gland supplements.

However, a great “home remedy” that many dogs enjoy, is a mixture of probiotics (Fortiflora which can be purchased at any of our Express Vets locations), 1-2 tsp of pure pumpkin, and a handful of raw green beans. The best results come from using this combination daily.

Please give us a call at 678-EXPRESS with any questions or to schedule an appointment.

Make your pet’s appointment at an Express Vets location near you today!