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Scent Gland

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The scent gland is a collection of small sebaceous glands located on both sides of the animal’s anus. These glands produce a special-smelling secretion that plays an important role in territorial marking and social communication. The scent glands are particularly important for wild animals, but domestic dogs have also retained this communication tool, although its significance has slightly decreased.

Function of the Scent Gland

The secretion produced by the scent glands helps dogs leave a unique scent on their territory, which informs other dogs about the presence, gender, health status, and reproductive status of the specific animal. This form of communication is extremely important in the social life of dogs, acting as a unique “fingerprint” for them.

Characteristics of the Scent Gland Secretion

stink gland

source: caninejournal.com

In a healthy state, the scent gland secretion is thick, oily, and light brown in color. Although the smell of the secretion is unpleasant to humans, it carries important information for dogs. If the glands do not function properly, the texture of the secretion can change, becoming thicker or thinner, and its color can differ from the healthy state.

Common Problems

The most common problems related to the scent glands include blockage, inflammation, or infection of the glands. These issues can cause irritation, pain, and may manifest as the dog wagging its tail, “sliding” while sitting, or licking its anus.


  • Sliding on the bottom, rubbing the anus while “sitting” on the front legs
  • Swelling or redness under the tail
  • Unpleasant smell
  • The dog’s restlessness or frequent licking, biting of the anal area
  • Visible discomfort while sitting or walking

When a dog’s scent glands are inflamed, it can lead to various health problems that may worsen without treatment. The most common consequence of inflammation is abscess formation, which can be painful for the dog and cause further complications.

Diseases Arising from Scent Gland Inflammation

  • Abscess: Inflammation of the scent glands can cause an abscess, which is a pus-filled, painful swelling around the dog’s anus. The abscess can often break through the skin surface, resulting in an open wound.
  • Infection: Inflamed glands can easily become infected, which can exacerbate the situation and require antibiotic treatment.
  • Fistula: In cases of prolonged or recurring inflammation, fistulas, or small passages, can form, leading from the infected area under the skin to the skin surface.

Symptoms of Abscess Formation

  • Swelling and redness at the base of the tail, around the anus
  • Pain, the dog does not allow touching the sore area
  • Fever and lethargy if the infection becomes more generalized
  • Pus leakage when the abscess breaks through
  • Bad-smelling discharge



A proper diet containing sufficient fiber can help with the regular emptying of the scent glands. In some cases, dietary supplements, such as omega-3 fatty acids, can be beneficial for improving the health of the skin and glands.

Veterinary Visit

Scent Gland

source: akc.org

If the above problems occur, it is important to consult a veterinarian. The vet will be able to manually empty the scent gland and treat inflammation or infection with appropriate medications, as the treatment of inflamed scent glands and abscesses is a veterinary task. This may include opening and draining the abscess, antibiotic and anti-inflammatory treatment, and regular emptying of the scent glands.

Natural Solutions

Some natural remedies, such as chamomile or calendula tea compresses, can help reduce inflammation, but these should always be used under veterinary supervision.


The veterinarian may prescribe antibiotics or anti-inflammatory drugs to treat the infection or inflammation.


In severe cases, where the scent glands consistently cause problems and other treatments are ineffective, the veterinarian may recommend surgical removal. Surgery is relatively rare and, like any operation, comes with risks, but it can provide a solution for glands that are chronically prone to inflammation.

Necessity for Surgical Intervention
Surgical intervention is generally considered only in cases where the scent glands continuously cause problems (such as frequent inflammation, infections) and other treatments, such as regular emptying or medication, do not lead to a lasting solution. The goal of the surgery is the complete removal of the glands, eliminating the risk of further inflammation and infection.
Which Dog Breeds Are Prone to Scent Gland Problems?
Scent gland problems can occur in any dog, regardless of breed. However, certain small breeds, such as Beagles, Cocker Spaniels, or Chihuahuas, may experience these types of problems more frequently. This can be partly due to genetic predisposition, but diet, lifestyle, and quality of health care also influence.

Genetic or Environmental Causes?

The development of scent gland problems is a complex process dependent on multiple factors. Genetic predisposition may exist in certain breeds, but lack of exercise, constipation or soft stools, chronic stress, or inadequate hygienic conditions can also contribute to the problem. Therefore, a balanced diet, regular exercise, and routine veterinary checks are important to identify and treat these problems in time.

Prevention and Care

Preventing scent gland problems is key to maintaining proper nutrition and healthy digestion. Probiotics and digestive enzymes as dietary supplements; a fiber-rich diet, including occasional additions of sweet potato, flaxseed, and psyllium husk; regular exercise and maintaining a proper weight can also contribute to healthy scent gland function. Additionally, pay attention to the dog’s defecation habits, and if changes or the above symptoms are noticed, consult a veterinarian in time.


Dog scent gland problems can be common, but with proper attention and treatment, they can be well managed. Early detection and appropriate veterinary treatment are crucial to avoid more serious issues. Always keep your pet’s health and well-being in mind, and do not hesitate to seek professional help if needed.

source: Dr. Patricia McConnell, Stanley Coren

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