What Color Is the Liquid Supposed to Be From the Anal Glands in a Dog?

by Jon Mohrman
Dogs learn a lot through their noses, including when they smell each others' rears.

Dogs learn a lot through their noses, including when they smell each others' rears.

Apple Tree House/Lifesize/Getty Images

Although not the most glamorous part of canine anatomy, anal sacs serve some important purposes. The potently smelling liquid they contain is used for individual identification between animals of the same species and territory marking, and possibly also for lubrication and facilitation of the passage of stool. Anal sacs -- sometimes referred to as anal glands, even though they aren't actually glands -- are also a common source of infections in many dogs.

Normal Anal Sac Liquid

Anal sac liquid is supposed to be dark brown or a grayish-brown color. Ideally, it's oily and fairly fluid in consistency, though some dogs naturally produce a thicker discharge. When everything's working properly, this fluid drains efficiently through short, narrow ducts and is expelled near the anus. It is perfectly normal for anal sac fluid to smell quite strong and foul.

Discoloration

Some dogs develop anal sac impactions, infections and/or abscesses. This occurs when the liquid doesn't drain efficiently enough for one reason or another. If you notice the liquid has turned yellowish, this is a clinical sign of an anal sac infection. You may also notice some pink or red in the fluid, indicating the presence of blood. See your vet, who will manually drain the anal sacs and any abscess, and he'll show you how to express the anal sacs yourself at home. He may also prescribe antibiotics.

Photo Credits

  • Apple Tree House/Lifesize/Getty Images

About the Author

Jon Mohrman has been a writer and editor for more than seven years. He specializes in food, travel and health topics. He attended the University of Pittsburgh for English literature and San Francisco State University for creative writing.

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