Your Pet Question:
My dog has a problem with a bad odour coming from the anal area. She gets her anal glands expressed often, but the vet says some dogs just smell bad.
Chantelle Vandenberg, Airdrie, AB
The Expert Says:
Anal glands are smelly–period. This scent is used to mark territory. Dogs love it, and we don’t, so ‘smelly’ is a relative term! Some dogs express their glands when excited so the odor may occur between visits to the vet. When frequent expressing of anal glands isn’t enough, other causes of foul odors should be eliminated. Sometimes the anal glands get infected. Your veterinarian will examine these glands as they are prone to impaction that often results in abnormal gland secretions, and hence the need for more frequent emptying. If the glands are relatively easily expressed and not infected, you may find a diet change helps. Often, increasing the fiber content to produce a bulkier stool may result in fecal material that is more effective at emptying these glands during defecation. But for glands that become chronically infected, sometimes the only alternative is to have the glands surgically removed. However, control through non-surgical means should always be the first choice.
Dr. Kathleen Cavanagh is a practicing veterinarian and educational consultant based in Ridgeville, Ontario.