Dog Still Smells After Expressing Their Glands? [Odor Check]

Zack Keithy, our author, is a certified veterinarian technician (UC Blue Ash) for over 6 years (contact him here). The articles written here are based on his expertise and experience, combined with a review by our expert vet reviewers including Dr M. Tarantino. Learn more about us here.

So you’ve already expressed your dog’s glands, the hard part is finally over. 

But, you realize the foul odor lingers.

What now?

The reasons why your dog still smells after expressing their glands include possible infection, impaction, or it could be due to an anal sac disease that has gone unnoticed. They cause the anal glands to be not expressed completely, leading to the smell still being present.

And what can you do about it?

Well, there is no one-size fits all solution that will work for every dog, and the first step to solving your dog’s problem is to know what’s causing it.

So, let’s get into it!

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Why Do Dogs Have Scent Glands?

Why Do Dogs Have Scent Glands?

We all know that dogs have unmatched scent glands.

But why do dogs have scent glands in the first place? And what are they used for?

I talk about the most common ones in the following sections.

Anal glands

Anal glands are located near the anus on either side and they produce a musky fluid that your dog leaves behind to mark their territory or signal other dogs about them (sometimes leaving brown spots on the bed too. Eeewwww).

These glands are very tiny, about the size of a pea, and can become impacted if there’s too much pressure put on them when they’re full.

The fluid they produce is not harmful to humans but it can be unpleasant smelling and kind of gross, to be honest.

Some dogs have more of these glands than others, and the fluid they produce can vary depending on how often it stimulates them.

Sebaceous glands

Sebaceous glands, also known as oil glands, release oily sebum onto the skin and hair follicles.

These glands are abundant near your dog’s paws, back of the neck, rump, chin, and tail area.  

As the name suggests, these glands produce sebum, a natural lubricant that keeps your pup’s skin supple and shiny as it contains fatty acids and proteins that help prevent dry skin, keep the coat healthy, and repel water.

This sebum is also the main reason why dogs have a doggy odor!

Sweat glands

Sweat glands are responsible for regulating body temperature, and for dogs, they have 2: the apocrine glands (found throughout the body) and the merocrine sweat glands (found on their paw pads).

The ones on their body don’t actually do much except for giving them a distinctive smell, while the ones on their paws do sweat to dissipate heat and reduce their body temperature.

You may also observe your dog leaving damp paw prints on hot days, a sign that their sweat glands are working to keep them cool and comfortable.

However, the main way dogs cool down is actually by panting! Now you know!

Each type of scent gland serves a different purpose in a dog’s body. And they all play a role in communication with other dogs and the environment.

Doggy says, you might wanna read this too: How do you know if your dog’s glands are infected?

What Does It Mean to Express a Dog’s Anal Glands?

When your dog expresses its anal glands, they release an oily, sticky substance.

But it doesn’t actually leave behind a physical mark, as we would. 

Instead, they leave an odor that lets other dogs know who has been there and how long ago another canine visited it.

And, as you might imagine, sometimes it usually smells pretty unpleasant. 

Expression of your dog’s scent glands has a variety of functions, including:

  • Your dog can relieve the discomfort it feels when they are full and help prevent any infections.
  • Identifying other dogs about gender, age, health, and reproductive status.
  • Communicating sexual status and availability. It is one of the ways your dog can tell other dogs that they’re ready to mate.
  • Communicating emotional states and individual identity.
  • Mating and establishing dominance over other dogs.
  • Defending territory from other animals. It helps dogs keep track of each other while hunting or playing.
  • Dogs also express their scent glands when feeling stressed, anxious, or scared.
  • Dogs use their scent glands to communicate with us. 

When a dog marks its owner, it marks that person as their “friend” and establishes a bond of recognition. 

This is how dogs recognize their owners and communicate their affection and loyalty.

Doggy says, you might wanna read this too: What dog breeds need their glands expressed?

Reasons Why a Dog May Still Smell Even After Their Glands Have Been Expressed

Reasons Why a Dog May Still Smell Even After Their Glands Have Been Expressed

If your dog has a smelly gland issue, you know how inconvenient it can be.

You might think that once the expression of glands is over, the problem goes away altogether.

But the truth is that it doesn’t always work out this way – sometimes, your dog will still smell even after the expression of glands.

Why does this happen?


If your dog’s anal glands are infected, it can cause a strong odor.

Even after expressing the glands, an infection can still be there and your dog may be in pain and have an abscess that requires medical attention.

Sometimes, this can even lead to your dog’s anal glands to bleed.


Impacted anal glands can cause a strong odor that may persist even after expression.

In this situation, the anal glands do not empty regularly, and the fluid can become thick and hard, which makes it difficult to expel. 

It can lead to impaction, which can cause discomfort and a really foul smell.

Health issues

Various health issues can cause your dog to have a strong odor even after the expression of anal glands, including skin infections, dental problems, and urinary tract infections. 

These health issues can sometimes cause a smell that may be mistaken for an odor from the anal glands.

Poor hygiene

Poor hygiene can also be a reason why your dog may still smell even after anal gland expression.

A buildup of dirt, oil, and bacteria can cause your dog to have a bad odor if their coat isn’t properly groomed.


Your dog’s diet can also affect its body odor, even after anal sacs expression.

Certain foods, especially those that have high fat content, can cause your dog’s skin to produce more oil, leading to a stronger odor. 

In such cases, you should really turn to food that helps a dog express glands naturally.

Anal sac disease

Anal sac disease is when the anal glands become infected, impacted, or inflamed, leading to discomfort, pain, and a foul odor. Your dog may also experience a change in stool consistency and color.

Anal sac disease can be the reason why your dog may still smell even after anal gland expression. 

How to Prevent a Dog From Smelling Bad?

If you want your pup friend to smell clean and pleasant, I have some tips that might do the trick! 

Check out these easy ways to freshen up your dog:

  • Regular grooming: Brushing their coat, bathing them regularly, and trimming their nails can all help keep them smelling fresh.
  • Anal sacs expression: If your dog’s anal sacs are full and you notice a strong odor, it’s time to express them. To do this, gently massage the area around the sac until it emerges.
  • Healthy diet: Your dog’s diet can affect its body odor, so feeding them a well-balanced and nutritious diet is important. 
  • Dental care: Bad breath is a common source of odor in dogs. Regular dental care, such as brushing or giving them dental chews, can help maintain oral hygiene and reduce bad breath.
  • Clean bedding and toys: Your dog’s bedding and toys can also contribute to odor. Wash their bedding regularly and clean their toys with pet-safe disinfectants to prevent bacteria buildup.
  • Clean environment: A clean environment can help reduce odor. Keep your dog’s living space clean by removing waste regularly.
  • Good ventilation: A well-ventilated environment can help reduce odors. Ensure your dog has plenty of fresh air, especially if confined to a small space.
  • Regular vet check-ups: Regular check-ups with your dog’s vet can help detect and treat any underlying health issues contributing to bad odor in dogs.

Following these tips can help prevent your dog from smelling bad and keep them healthy and happy.

When to See a Veterinarian?

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Thank you. The rest of the article continues below.

Your furry friends can’t always communicate their needs or pain to you. 

Your pet relies on you to keep them healthy and happy. They rely on you to take the initiative when they need to see a vet for the care they need.

If your dog doesn’t normally show the following symptoms, but are now experiencing them. Take your fur baby to the vet right away.

  • Changes in behavior
  • Loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Swollen or painful joints
  • Diarrhea
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Fever
  • Pain or discomfort


Why does my dog keep releasing his glands?

When your dog keeps releasing its anal glands, it could be due to chronic skin conditions, obesity, inadequate dietary fiber, change in stool consistency, parasites, or food or environmental allergies. Sometimes, your dog needs its anal glands expressed to avoid blockages and infection.

What if your dog’s anal glands are not expressed?

If a dog’s anal glands are not expressed, it can lead to complications such as impaction, infection, abscesses, and ruptures. Signs of impacted anal glands include scooting, licking, biting the area around the anus, foul odor, and discomfort.

How to tell if your dog’s glands need to be expressed?

Several signs can indicate the need for the expression of a dog’s anal glands. It includes scooting or dragging their rear along the ground, excessive licking around their anus, foul odor, and discomfort.

In Conclusion: Dog Still Smells After Expressing Their Glands?

Although expressing a dog’s anal glands can help to alleviate a number of health problems, it is not always a guaranteed solution to the problem of a smelly pup.

If your dog still smells after expressing their glands, it may be worth exploring other possible causes, such as a dietary issue or an underlying health problem.

Hopefully, the steps highlighted above can help you out, if not, a visit to the vet might be unavoidable.

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You’ve made it to the end, but I hope it’s not the end of our journey. We want to hear your voice! Share your thoughts, problems, suggestions, or anything related to your dog in the comments section. And don’t forget to join our newsletter today too.

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Zack Keithy
Zack Keithy

Hey, I'm Zack, the Chief Editor here. I was formerly a Certified Veterinary Technician (CVT) for a good 6 years before moving on to greener pastures. Right now, I am still heavily involved in dog parenting duties, and it is my desire to share all our knowledge with fellow dog owners out there! Connect with me on LinkedIn, or read more about Daily Dog Drama!

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