Dear Doctor: Overactive anal glands


Q. My dog seems to have very active anal glands. She will release them whenever we are in the car and lots of times when we are just around the house. She even left a pool of anal fluid in the car just below the console where there is a little place to put stuff. The space isn’t deep, but it took a lot of cleaning to get the odor out. What is going on? Is she sick? Does she have an infection? Do I just have to put up with the smell?

Pastor Pat Beeman
East Wenatchee, Washington

Dear Pastor Beeman,

A. We’ve never heard of this exact problem before, but it sounds like the dog is squeezing her anal sphincter when excited and pushing out the fluid. The only answer is likely to remove the anal sacs. It is perfectly okay for a dog not to have anal sacs. There’s very little risk of incontinence if the operation is done correctly. If you decide on this solution, we recommend making sure you choose an experienced surgeon who has performed the procedure before.


  1. You could also work on counterconditioning the dog to the vehicle. It’s the excitement/stress that’s causing the squeezing. She needs to be taught to relax in that situation. Don’t do a surgical procedure that’s probably not necessary. Find a trainer that knows how to create calmness in a dog. My hope is you and your dog live a better life.

  2. My newly adopted pit mix stinks to high heaven constantly bathed or not. She is such a sweet girl but I can’t leave her in the house much more than a day after a bath. I exasperest her axial glands but that doesn’t seam to help. She’s such a sweet dog, likes to snuggle but I just can’t deal with the stink.

  3. I know this isn’t an answer to cause of the problem, but witch hazel really helps neutralize the stink. Also, you could have your dog sit on a sheet when she snuggles with you, then just wash the sheet if it gets stinky.


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