What are the anal glands and why do dogs have them?

Just curious. I find them rather "stinky" and inconvenient!

Asked by Member 558242 on Jan 18th 2008 Tagged analglands, analsacs, petodor in Health & Wellness
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Dogs, as well many other small mammals (skunks, ferrets & cats, for example), have a pair of glands located just under the skin on both sides of the rectum. These are actually scent glands. Before dogs and cats were domesticated, these glands were used primarily for marking territory and for identification (like a fingerprint) of animals within a particular species. In domesticated species, they serve little to no practical purpose.

*Just a neat (?) note about anal glands: Opossums have anal sacs that secrete a foul odor similar to that of a rotting carcass. This is another means for the critter to “play dead.” Though their anal sacs are very different than dogs, it’s still a neat little piece of trivia!* :)

answered on Jan 18th.

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To piggy-back on what Chomper's said, the anal glands may not be *necessary* for health, but they are still important for social functioning between dogs. The substance released from the glands contains information about the dog -- age, sex, status, health, etc. -- which other dogs can decode by smelling it. When a dog meets another dog and smells it's butt it's getting a whiff of anal gland scent that imparts all this info about the dog. When dogs sniff other dogs' pee and poop on walks they're also using the scent to gather info about who's been in their neighborhood and what they're up to!

Your dog's anal glands shouldn't be releasing a stinky smell that's detectable on a regular basis. Some dogs do release a burst of stink when they're frightened, though, which is normal. They shouldn't have to be manually expressed very often, if at all, either. Diet has a big effect on anal gland health. A good quality diet that makes a nice solid poop is really important.

Meridian answered on 1/18/08. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 2 Report this answer