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  • Writer's pictureOllu Dog Wash

All about Glands

Updated: Apr 11, 2023

Ever smelled a gross dead fish smell on your dog, probably when they were nervous? That’s liquid from your dog’s anal glands. To us humans it seems disgusting, but these glands are actually pretty cool. They are the dog version of a profile page, passing on information like sex, age, and health for other dogs to sniff out.

Why Dog's Need Glands Expressed

Dog's usually empty their anal glands regularly when pooping, marking territory, or when they are afraid. Occasionally though, dogs are unable to express their anal glands on their own, causing them to continue filling with fluid. This often happens due to anatomical issues or overly soft stools. If not addressed, glands can get infected or rupture.

So, how do you know when your dog isn't expressing his glands? Signs include any indication of discomfort in that region, such as scooting and licking. A strong fishy smell may also indicate a build up of anal gland fluid, though you may also smell it when they are expressing their glands on their own.

You should always check with your vet if you suspect gland trouble, because it’s important to deal with quickly. If your dog’s gland issues are caused by soft stool, you may also want to address the problem by changing their diet. More fiber leads to bulkier stools which will more easily express the glands as it passes.

When Not to Express Glands

On the other end of the spectrum, it is important not to express your dog’s glands when they are able to do it on their own. If you regularly express your dog’s glands it can actually result in them becoming dependent on you to do it, causing the very problem you were trying to avoid. Because of this, we ask that you check with your vet before requesting a gland expression for your dog.

If your dog does need a gland expression, we offer them as an add on to grooms or as a stand alone, walk-in service. Go here for more information about our walk-in services!

To dive deeper into the subject of glands go to and PetMD.

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