If you've ever noticed that your poor pooch always seems to take on a rather unpleasant body odor whenever he's in the midst of frightening or high-stress situations, don't think of him as a weirdo. It is not uncommon for dogs to emit disagreeable odors in times of intense strain.
Although the subject is certainly not the loveliest on earth, it is extremely important to the health and well-being of your precious doggie. All dogs possess a pair of tiny anal glands, both of which flank their rectal regions. These glands or sacs contain an oil -- which has a markedly foul smell -- that usually comes out in one of two ways: either during the defecation process or during times of physical fitness. The oil, albeit displeasing to the nose, is totally normal, and all dogs have it, like it or not.
Although dogs' anal sacs usually free themselves during elimination or physical activity, they also occasionally do so in times of fear and apprehension. If your poor doggie is extremely scared for whatever reason, do not be surprised if he all of a sudden starts giving off an aggressively icky body odor. This odor is a result of a tiny amount of oil oozing out. Instead of smelling like feces, you may notice that the odor is a lot closer to rotting fish or something of that ilk. If your poor pooch starts smelling conspicuously bad while at the groomer or veterinarian's office, then you probably can figure out what is going on.
Although the purpose of anal gland oil may seem baffling, it actually has an important function in the canine world. Dogs sometimes use this oil as a tool for claiming turf -- similar to urine marking behaviors. This oil can also often be useful in helping dogs learn more about each other, as handy message-receiving devices of sorts.
Other Signals of Fear
If you suspect that your dog emitted anal gland oil out of fear, check for some other key "scared" body language hints, like a crouched posture, hidden tail, lip licking, stiff back fur, excessive drooling and shivering. Not only do dogs often give off anal sac oil in fearful circumstances, they sometimes also involuntarily defecate or urinate, both of which may also contribute to bad -- and highly noticeable -- smells.
- Homeward Bound Golden Retriever Rescue and Sanctuary: Dogs and the Fear of Men, People, Situations and Objects
- Dr. Pitcairn's New Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats; Richard H. Pitcairn and Susan Hubble Pitcairn
- DogChannel.com: What Are Anal Sacs, and Why Does My Dog Need to Have Hers Emptied?
- ASPCA: Canine Body Language