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Something Fishy Going On: Problems with Anal Glands

October 11, 2021

UA- Something Fishy Going On- Anal Glands

Ever think there might be something fishy going on with your dog? I’m not talking about them walking around on two legs and emulating Maxwell Smart, I’m talking about a fishy smell. We all have experience with those killer dog's smells, a sneaky toot that clears the room, but have you ever encountered a truly pungent fishy smell?

Well, if you answered yes, you my friend have likely experienced the whiff of anal gland secretion. When your dog passes feces, it’s squeezed out, usually pushing on the two glands located either side of the anus. A healthy stool will push the glands allowing them to empty at the time of passing, so you may never fall victim to the stinky secretion. Some of use however will not be so lucky. Loose stools or constipation can result in the glands not emptying properly, so they will fill up and leak or ooze out at inopportune times. There can also be cases where the glands do not function properly or have been damaged and as a result must be manually emptied at regular intervals.

Signs your dog may have an anal gland problem:
  • The smell – if you are smelling the distinctive fishy smell (you can’t mistake it) frequently
  • Scooting – often your dog will scoot their bottom along the ground to attempt to empty the full or irritated glands
  • Excessive licking – you may notice your dog licking their anus excessively, the constant licking can also cause the anus to look red and irritated
  • Stains/Marks – The actual anal gland secretion is a dark, thick, pungent substance and small amounts can be left behind or seen on surfaces where your dog sits or lies.

If you seem to be smelling the smell a little too often or have noticed any of the signs listed above, it’s important to visit your vet, your dog may be experiencing problems or may just need them to be emptied. It’s imperative that you seek a professional to empty your dogs anal glands, it’s very easy to damage the glands by squeezing too hard or in the wrong way. Damage to the glands may result in your dog never being able to empty their glands naturally again, locking you and your dog into problems and anal gland emptying for the rest of their lives. Some people will request the anal glands to be emptied at the time of grooming, in some cases this is fine, but incorrect techniques result in problems, so it’s advisable to get a trained vet to perform the task.

Chronic problems can develop or even be there from the start, so if you are noticing any of the signs listed above, it’s a good idea to take your dog to the vet so they can perform an assessment.

If you notice your dog's bum smells like fish, please feel free to contact us at the Mornington Veterinary clinic and we will be happy to assist.

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