Dog Anal Gland Smell - How to Get Rid of It?

Dog Anal Gland Smell - How to Get Rid of It?

Author WDF Staff


There are many great things about having a dog, but getting rid of the dog anal gland smell is not one of them. Anal glands are a way of communication to dogs. These glands secrete an odor that helps dogs mark territory. Like all other glands in their body, anal glands can get blocked or infected. Sometimes, they might require to be manually expressed. In that case, call your vet and them about the problem your dog is experiencing. In the meantime, you can learn more about dog anal gland smell here.

What are dog anal glands?

Dog anal glands are specialized glands that are located on both sides of your dog’s anus. Both sexes have them, and sometimes, they can cause problems. Anal glands are also called anal sacs, and they are specialized sweat glands that produce an unpleasantly-smelling secretion. They help your dog leave a “scent marker.”

If you want to know more about dog anal glands, check out this article - Dog anal glands: All you need to know.

Why does my dog smell like fish?

The scent anal glands produce is pretty distinctive. Most dog owners describe it as smelling “fishy.” If you ever notice your dog smells like fish, there are two possible reasons; they have rolled in some fish or have anal sac problems, and you will need to get rid of the fishy smell from the dog.

There are several reasons your dog can smell like fish, and the most common one is the anal sac disease. That is a term most vets use to describe issues with anal glands. If that happens, you will most likely notice your dog smells like fish, and the natural thing to think about is how to get rid of that fishy smell from your dog. Some of the common anal sac diseases that cause your dog to smell like fish are;

Anal sac infections

Anal sacs are glands, and glands can get infected. If the infection is left untreated, it can progress and get abscessed. That can lead to rupture and other health issues. If abscesses happen, your dog will require immediate attention and medication.


Each time your dog defecates, a tiny bit of secretion should be extracted. Sometimes, the anal sacs don’t get completely empty. The fluid left in them can become dry and cause impactions. Dogs with soft stools and obese dogs have anal sacs that do not get adequately emptied and often require the vet’s attention.


Anal sacs are glands that can develop tumors. If that happens, your vet will need to perform a biopsy and advise you on how to approach the treatment. Tumors can prevent anal sacs from emptying and can cause all sorts of health problems for your dog.

All of these health concerns can cause your dog to smell like fish, and if you notice that distinct smell, you should ask your vet for immediate help.

How to get rid of the fishy smell from dog?

If you notice your dog developing that fishy dog anal gland smell, it is time to call your vet or groomer that knows how to empty the dog’s anal sacs. Most cases are resolved by expressing the dog’s anal glands, and if you don’t mind the unpleasant odor, you can learn to do it yourself. That is the first way to get rid of the fishy smell from your dog.

Smaller dog breeds, like the Chihuahua or Pomeranian,  are prone to having anal sac problems, and they will need that problem solved regularly. However, doing that constantly can end up in inflammation and scar tissue. That will require your vet’s attention.

Such compacted and inflamed anal sacs will need careful extraction. Vets often use saline or other softening agents to empty the dog’s anal sack and get rid of that fishy smell from the dog. If the inflammation is severe, the vet will treat them with antiseptic and antibiotics. If the vet thinks anal sacs are abscessed, a few treatments will be required to resolve the fishy smell from the dog.

Removing the anal sacs

In worst-case scenarios, your vet might recommend removing your dog’s anal sacs. Suppose the inflammations or infections persist or the dog developed an anal sac tumor. In that case, the best solution might be removing their anal sacs. That surgery is not that difficult, and nearly all dogs make a 100% recovery. That is the best way to make sure you got rid of the dog anal gland smell forever. And the best thing is - it won’t affect their quality of life.

Preventing the dog anal gland smell

There are a couple of things you could do to prevent the fishy dog anal gland smell. Your vet can give you the best advice about getting rid of the dog anal gland smell, and some of the things they usually tell owners to do are;

  • Keep your dog on a diet that contains an appropriate amount of dietary fiber. It will add bulk to the dog’s stool and make sure the anal sacs are naturally emptied. If you are not sure what type of diet that is, feel free to check this list of recommendations for balanced dog foods - Best dog foods.
  • Make sure you check your dog’s stool. We know that is not the prettiest task, but you need to make sure the stool is healthy. Stool problems can be an indication of health issues.
  • Your dog should have plenty of physical activity and exercise. That is the best way to keep their weight down and avoid dog anal gland smell development.
  • Make sure your dog has access to clean water at all times.

The good news is - the fishy dog anal gland smell is relatively easy to get rid of. Make sure you follow your vet’s advice, and you will end up with a healthy and happy dog.

World Dog Finder team

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