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Anal Gland Odor -- How to Express Anal Sacs

Anal gland odor caused by a problem with the anal sacs is common in dogs and cats.

Anal glands in animals are located just under the skin at about 4 and 8 o'clock on either side of the anus. These two small grape-shaped scent-sacs empty their contents into the rectal area by way of a small connecting duct. They generally are called "marking glands" because they mark territory. Each side fills up with a thick, foul smelling, oily brown fluid that is normally expelled when the animal has a bowel movement.

Sometimes the anal glands become too full and this causes discomfort or itchiness. When this happens your dog or cat will lick under the tail or drag (scooting) the rear end along the floor, carpet, or grass. Scooting the anus on the ground has the effect of expressing the anal glands.

Sometime the glands empty in an explosive way if your dog or cat is frightened, stressed, or overly excited and secrete the smelly, oily substance on the surrounding fur, causing bad odor.

Problems arise when the anal glands cannot easily empty their contents and become infected or impacted causing discomfort and even pain. When this happens, an offensive odor develops. Because bad odor coming from the anal area could signify an anal gland problem, have your dog or cat seen by your veterinarian. Your veterinarian or groomer can show you how to express anal glands externally. It is not hard to do!

Anal Gland Expression -- Do It Yourself
When the anal glands secretions appear, they will smell very strong and unpleasant. Expressing the sacs before bath time is a good idea. Here are some basic directions:

anal gland expression

1. Gather several sheets of toilet paper and double.
2. Locate the anal glands by raising the tail with one hand.
3. Use your other hand to feel for two lumps at approximately 4 and 8 o'clock on either side of the anal opening.
4. Place the toilet paper over the anal opening and below the glands.
5. Apply firm but gentle pressure. Gently squeeze up and towards the anal opening from underneath the glands.
6. This will cause the fluid to expel through the rectal opening, thereby emptying the glands.
7. Throw away the toilet paper.
8. Wash and rinse your dog's rear end really well. Baby wipes work well for cleaning the area.

If you have the unfortunate experience of anal gland secretions squirting onto your clothes, launder with soap, vinegar, and baking soda. This will take out the odor and will work on carpeting also.

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