Ever wondered why your dog smells a little fishy?  The answer lies in the anal glands!

When your dog has to do their thing, they excrete a little amount of fluid from their anal glands along with some poop. Releasing this fluid while your dog is excreting feces is completely normal. However, there are times when your dog is not able to release this fluid due to an anal infection or some other reason. As a result, the anal gland is not emptied and your dog may start to smell like a fish. Another disadvantage of not emptying the anal glands is that the liquid may leak at inconvenient times.

Reason that anal glands are not offloaded

The diet of your dog is the most important reason why your dog is not able to empty their anal glands. If your dog is excreting small or softer stools, chances are that less liquid will be released from the anal sacs. Only a large, firm stool can activate the anal gland for releasing the fluid.

Emptying a dogs anal glands, Image from page 110 of Diseases of the dog and the…

How to know if your dog’s anal glands need emptying?

  • If your dog tries to scratch his bottom
  • If he tries to bite his bottom
  • If you notice a fishy smell from your dog
  • If your dog becomes depressed and stops wagging his tail
  • If he resists when trying to handle his tail

All of the above signs indicate that the anal sacs of your dog are filled and he is trying to empty them.

What should I do if my dog’s anal glands are impacted?

You will have to get your dog’s anal glands emptied. You can take your dog to a vet or a professional groomer and they can perform the job easily. Emptying a dog’s anal sacs takes only five minutes! This is something that you can do yourself if you have some basic knowledge of how to do it. But if your dog is facing the problem for the first time, it is recommended to take him to the vet.

How can I empty them myself?

The very first requirement of emptying your dog’s anal gland is to be patient.

To successfully drain the anal glands, you need to know the exact location and opening of the anal gland. Help your dog relax. It is advised to have another person with you who can help with the procedure. Wear a latex glove on your hand, get some paper towels and ask your friend to hold your dog gently.

When you are emptying your dog’s anal sacs for the first time, you need to be patient. With one hand (on which you are not wearing glove) hold the tail of the dog upwards, and place the thumb and forefinger of your other hand on the two sides of the anus of your dog. Filled anal glands will feel like two large peas. If you can feel those peas, it means you are holding the right spot. Gently try to milk the glands. Don’t apply too much pressure while squeezing because it may panic the dog. This will cause the release of a brown grainy substance which is the reason why your dog was having a fish like smell. Give your dog a treat after successfully emptying his anal glands.

Emptying a dogs anal glands, Image from page 109 of Diseases of the dog and the…
If you are not able to remove the liquid, even after 2 or 3 attempts, you should probably stop. It may be painful for your dog and it would be better take him to a vet.

What are some other possible solutions?

Keeping a check on your dog’s stools will certainly help. The problem generally occurs if the stool is soft. Feed your dog a diet that is rich in fibers so that their stool can become hard. Taking your dog outside for exercising will also help.

Filed under: Dog Care

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