Have you ever smelled an horrendous fishy odor from your four-legged friend’s hind end? This could be a sign that they are suffering from anal gland issues. Our team has answered some frequently asked questions about your furry friend’s anal glands.


What are anal glands in pets?

Anal glands are two small, oval-shaped sacs that sit right inside your pet’s rectum on either side of the anus. They typically release a thin, foul-smelling fluid when your pet defecates, to provide a special scent marker. 


What is the function of pets’ anal glands?

Anal gland fluid can serve as a territorial marker when left behind with feces, or can help during social interactions, imparting important information about your pet’s health, sex, and emotional status when hind-end sniffs are exchanged in greeting.


What potential problems can occur in anal glands in pets?

Ideally, your pet should never have a problem expressing their anal glands naturally when they defecate, but many pets develop issues. Diet seems to be the most common cause of anal gland impactions—when pets become too heavy, their natural anatomy is impeded—or allergies, which can create inflammation and swelling.


If an impaction occurs, you may notice your pet licking excessively at their hind end, scooting along the ground, or the strong fishy odor that can indicate anal gland fluid. At the first hint of a problem, you should get your pet looked at by a veterinarian. If left untreated, the glands can quickly rupture, becoming extremely painful and infected. 


Unfortunately, an anal gland issue that your pet develops will likely be an ongoing condition that requires routine monitoring and expression. Some pets, especially small-breed dogs with allergies, require anal gland expression every few months to prevent impactions. However, diet, exercise, allergy management, and routine expressions can help your four-legged friend maintain a normal, healthy life. 


If you notice your furry pal scooting along the carpet, they may be having an anal gland issue. Please contact us if you have any questions.