The Stink On Dog Anal Glands

Dog anal glands are little bags that sit inside your dog's bum at the 8 o'clock and 4 o'clock positions. Every time your dog poops he empties out a little bit of this really stinky, smelly fluid from the anal sacs. We think it smells horrible, but your dog thinks it smells wonderful. Go figure!

dogs anal glands. The stink on dog healthMaking Friends

It's really important for your dog's mental and physical welfare to have anal glands that are healthy and functioning normally. Dog anal glands basically have two functions.

  1. Anal fluid helps your dog communicate with other dogs. He uses it to mark his territory. This brown musky fluid contains ' pheromones ', the chemicals that attract one member of the species to another member of the same species.
  2. Anal sacs provide a storage space for toxic substances the body needs to get rid of on a regular basis. This elimination of anal fluid is one way your dog can keep his body clean every time he poops. Just like taking out the trash! Healthy dog anal glands are part of the natural canine detox system.

Expressing Anal Glands
Not a Great Idea!

Dogs in the wild, simply do not go around expressing each others anal glands. Now, having said that, if your dog has an underlying problem causing the anal sacs to become infected, abscessed or impacted and clogged, I have no problem with expressing them as a temporary way to relieve or prevent pain, pressure or rupture.

If you see your dog ' scooting ' or licking his rear end obsessively, or if the anal area looks red and swollen and painful if touched, there's a pretty good chance his glands are causing him discomfort.

However, clearly understand that expressing anal glands is not a solution to this problem, and should never be done on a regular basis because it may cause soft tissue damage. It is the pressure of firm stool against the wall of the colon that expresses the glands naturally. Getting to the root of the problem, the source of the problem is the solution to solving dog anal gland problems.

So What Does Cause
Dog Anal Gland Problems?

  • Improper Diet - most commercial kibble and canned dog food diets produce large, soft stools. The fiber source in these dog foods comes mostly from vegetable/grain sources. Since dogs are carnivores, they are meant to get their fiber mostly from bone.
  • Soft Stools - are the end result of improper diet. This type of stool does not push hard enough against the anal gland wall. Therefore, not enough anal fluid is naturally excreted with the bowel movement. The anal glands will have a hard time emptying if the stool is too soft.
  • Allergies - here we go again. This dog health problem is mostly based in improper feeding of single proteins for years on end, as well as toxic grains and starches that are used to make commercial kibble. Environmental pollutants are a contributing factor as well.
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease caused by medications, parasites, poor quality food, or allergic response to food or environmental factors, can cause soft stools. The anal glands can become swollen, abscessed, infected or impacted. This in turn causes pain, pressure and eventually rupture.
  • Lack of exercise - if your dog does not have numerous outdoor opportunities to relief himself by having a bowel movement frequently and regularly, he simply won't pass any anal fluid. Infrequent bowel movements resulting in dog constipation and/or frequent dog diarrhea are two of the main causes of anal gland problems in dogs. So it's move it, or lose it! Exercise builds strong back muscles and buttocks.
  • Obesity - if your dog is overweight due to improper diet or lack of adequate exercise, he very likely will have poor muscle tone generally. Strong buttock and rectal muscles will make defecation easier so more anal fluid will be excreted. Fat dogs are not funny. Fat dogs are unhealthy dogs!
  • Spinal injuries - if your dog is a ball or frisbee chasing nutcase like our Teddy, be careful he doesn't hurt his lower back, his lumbar spine. Often even well exercised dogs consuming a good raw diet can still have anal gland problems. Pain in the lower back can cause muscles to tighten, cutting off nerve flow to the anal glands. Less sprinting, retrieving and jumping are a good thing. More walking and loping runs please!

Solutions to the
Dog Anal Gland Problem

Bones - raw bones and a raw food diet that contains natural bone, is the obvious solution here. Dogs as carnivores are meant to get their fiber mostly from bone. Bone fiber will produce a smaller, firmer stool that will put pressure on the glands to excrete some fluid.

Even if you feed a kibble diet, you can give your dog a couple of chicken backs, turkey necks or long beef rib bones a few times a week. This is inexpensive food that naturally provides fiber for dogs, and is easily obtainable at the grocery store. Providing a diet that is correct for the carnivore species, ensures that your dog's digestive system is getting the right food to keep it running smoothly.

Exercise - I think it goes without saying, that the benefits of exercise for people and dogs is well documented. Take your dog for a walk, please! It's good for you, and it's good for him. Exercise in the form of walking will help your dog build strong buttocks, rectal and abdominal muscles, and will tone the large thigh muscles in the hind legs. It will also provide more opportunity to have a bowel movement lessening the chance of impacted anal glands in dogs.

The dog digestive system requires exercise and oxygen to help keep food moving along inside the short digestive tract.

Exercise helps to prompt peristalsis increasing the urge to have a bowel movement.

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