9 Ways to Get Rid of Anal Gland Smell From Your Stuff

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dog is spreading his anal glands smell on his owners cloths

Key Takeaways:

  1. Dogs have modified sweat glands that produce fishy-smelling fluid for the purpose of marking territory and communicating with other pups.
  2. If your dog’s glands become impacted, they can leak on household items and leave an odor behind.
  3. There are several approaches you can try to get rid of anal gland smell from your stuff.
  4. If your dog smells fishy or shows other signs of anal gland issues, call your vet.

Your dog just visited the vet because he had impacted anal glands a week ago, and the doctor expressed the glands. But the house still has a lingering fishy odor. Just to be sure, you check your furbaby’s butt, and there’s no sign of trouble. What’s going on?

Dogs with impacted or leaky glands can leave traces of stinky anal gland fluid around the house. Whether they spot their bedding or your furniture, the result is the same – lingering odors. How can you get rid of the smell?

In this article, we’ll look at which household items your dog may leave his anal gland smell on and 9 ways to eliminate the odor. We’ll also discuss the reason your dog’s anal glands are stinky and warning signs of ana gland disease.

Common household items that dogs leave anal gland smell on

Usually, dogs express their glands and empty the sacs when they poop.  This allows your furbaby to mark his territory and leave messages for other dogs. Some dogs have anal glands that leak small amounts of liquid when they’re asleep or very relaxed. They may also spontaneously evacuate the anal glands if they’re startled, frightened, or threatened.

On the other hand, pups with anal gland disease may leave traces of smelly fluid around the house. If they have impacted glands, some fluid may ooze or dribble out as the pressure builds in the sacs. Ruptured sacs will drain fishy-smelling fluid. These conditions can cause spotting on your dog’s bedding or other household items.

Household items commonly affected by anal gland odor include:

  • Furniture – If you allow your furbaby on your furniture in the house, your dog may leave an anal gland odor behind on the cushions.
  • Bedding – Dogs spot their beds or your quilt/comforter while they’re sleeping on the bedding.
  • Bed – Once you clean the sheets and other bedding, you may need to address your mattress if the fluid seeped through the linens.
  • Carpet – When your pooch stretches out on the floor, the smelly liquid can seep into the carpeting and cause a lingering stench.
  • Clothing – If your furbaby expresses her anal glands while you’re holding her on your lap or restraining her, the stinky oils will get on your clothing.

Ordinarily, dogs express their anal glands when they poop. They may also empty the sacs spontaneously when they’re under duress. If your pooch has anal gland disease, the liquid can seep out of the sacs as well. In any event, your dog may leave behind an odor on household items like furniture, bedding, and clothing.

9 Ways to remove anal gland odor from your things

Various approaches for removing anal gland odor from your things exist. 

Run items through the laundry

Fabrics hold odor, so they need to go in the wash. If your dog got her anal gland smell on your sheets, slipcovers, or clothing, you can run them through the washer with detergent. The soap should break up oils and remove odor.

This was instrumental in removing anal gland odor from our house after our rescue dog expressed his glands in bed. 

Baking soda

Baking soda is an odor absorber and neutralizer. It’s handy for freshening your carpet or keeping your fridge smelling fresh. So, if your furbaby leaves some anal gland smell on the rugs or furniture fabric, this can help eliminate the smell.

For the best effect, sprinkle fresh baking soda on the carpet or furniture cushions where you notice spotting or an odor. Allow the powder to sit on the material overnight to absorb the oils and neutralize the smell. The next morning, vacuum the area to remove the baking soda.

Odor eliminators

Odor-eliminating products can help to neutralize the anal gland smell that your dog leaves behind. These products can be sprayed or squirted directly on the fabrics that stink. Some may need to be worked into carpeting or fabric with a brush to help lift stains and odors. 

Once you apply the product to the smelly spots, you should let it sit for a while to let the formula work on the anal gland fluid. Then, blot or vacuum the area to remove the product. 

Fabric fresheners

Fabric fresheners like Febreeze help to isolate odor molecules and lift them from the fabric. These products can be helpful in dealing with anal gland odor and general doggy smell.

Usually, these products can be sprayed directly on the furniture or carpeting and allowed to dry. No need to vacuum.

Enzymatic cleaners

Enzymatic cleaners are another form of odor-eliminating solution. As the name implies, this type of product contains enzymes that break down the organic material to neutralize odors and eliminate stains. 

My husband and I use an enzymatic cleaner when our dogs have loose stool accidents or vomit on our carpeting. Once we pick up the mess, we saturate the stain with the solution, cover it with a damp cloth, and leave it for 24 hours. The stain and odor are completely gone the next day. It works the same for anal gland smells.

Steam cleaning

Use a steam cleaner to remove stains and odors from your carpet or furniture fabric. The steam cleaner provides deep-down cleaning to eliminate traces of liquid or smell from the carpet fibers and furniture materials.

When you steam clean your carpets, you can also use a pet deodorizing shampoo to more effectively address the fishy odor.

Hydrogen peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide can help to eliminate odors in your carpeting or fabrics. Before trying it on furniture or clothing, test it on a small, inconspicuous corner of the material to check for colorfastness. You can wipe stinky or stained areas with hydrogen peroxide to decrease the stink.

Another option featuring hydrogen peroxide is to make a solution of 3 % hydrogen peroxide(1 quart), baking soda(¼ cup), and liquid dishwashing soap(1 teaspoon) to apply to carpet odors. Mix the solution in a plastic container only when you plan to use it. Do not store it in a closed container.

Laundry powder and apple cider vinegar

Another solution that can effectively remove stains and odor is a combination of powdered laundry detergent with ¼ cup of apple cider vinegar. Apply the mixture directly to carpeting or furniture fabrics. Rub the solution into the fibers with a soft brush and allow it to dry before vacuuming. 

You may also be able to use the solution on clothing after your dog leaves her anal gland smell on you. Spray the mixture onto the affected area of the fabric before putting the item in the wash.

Pineapple juice

Pineapple juice contains the enzyme bromelain, which breaks down organic matter and may help to eliminate odors. Use this product with caution because it may stain some fabrics.

There are various ways you can try to eliminate odors. Some work on fabrics and bedding, while others are useful for furniture and carpeting. There are commercial products like enzymatic cleaners and everyday items like baking soda or hydrogen peroxide.

Understanding dog anal gland smell

I get it. When my dog spontaneously expressed his anal glands in the car one time, I wanted to get rid of the fishy smell as soon as possible. The stench comes from the liquid their glands produce, and it’s produced to help canines mark their territory. You usually don’t smell the fluid because it comes out when your dog poops (hopefully outside). But when there’s a problem, the liquid thickens, and it may leak at inopportune times.

Reducing dog anal gland smell

Dogs that have a strong fishy odor may have anal gland issues. Fortunately, there are some things you can try to help minimize the smell while you’re waiting to see the vet.

  • Clean your dog’s hind end with deodorizing pet wipes.
  • Wipe the area around the anus with sterile gauze or a clean cloth soaked in dog ear cleaner.
  • Rub some human deodorant like Arid on a cloth and hold the cloth against your dog’s anus for a few minutes to neutralize the odor. Clean any deodorant residue from the anus afterward.
  • Give your dog a butt wash with some dog shampoo to remove the oils and smell

Warning signs of anal gland issues you should be aware of

The fishy odor is one of several signs that tell you your dog probably has anal gland issues. When your dog starts to stink, be on the alert for:

  • scooting(dragging his butt)
  • Excessive licking or chewing of the anal area
  • Blood or pus discharge on the stool or around the anus
  • Pain or straining when pooping
  • Redness or swelling around the anus
  • Reluctance to sit down
  • Brown spotting (leaking glands) on furniture or bedding

If your furbaby shows any of the above signs, contact your veterinarian and schedule an examination. Most anal gland issues will not improve without treatment.

Anal gland odor is unpleasant, but there are ways to reduce the smell. Wipe your dog’s butt with pet wipes or ear cleaner. You can also try a butt bath or human deodorant. A fishy odor is one of several signs of anal gland issues. Contact your veterinarian if your dog shows any symptoms.

The Final Woof

When dogs have impacted anal glands, you’re likely to smell a strong fishy odor from the thick fluid. Unfortunately, the liquid may ooze or leak out as pressure builds inside the sacs. When this happens, the smelly fluid leaves a residual odor on household items. There are various approaches you can try to remove the smell from your furniture, clothing, carpets, or bedding.

The pungent fluid responsible for anal gland odor is produced by the anal glands. If your dog is having issues like clogged anal sacs, he often develops a fishy smell. You may be able to reduce the odor by using pet wipes, ear cleaners, human deodorants, or a butt bath. A fishy smell is one of several signs that tell you it’s time to schedule a visit with the vet to have your furbaby’s anal glands checked.

Photo of author
Dr. Libby Guise earned her DVM from the University of Minnesota in 1994. After working in private practice in Wisconsin for two years, she joined the USDA as a Veterinary Medical Officer. In 2011, Libby came home to focus on raising and teaching her adoptive daughter. She lives in Wisconsin with her daughter, husband, and two furbabies: Charis, a lab-mix rescue pup, and Chesed, a Springer Spaniel.

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