Why Does My Dog Smell? (What To Do About It)

A male holding his nose and a Jack Russell dog
Why does my dog smell?

Have you heard that saying about the smells of a wet dog? It might seem unbelievable, but most dogs tend to smell terrible from time to time. It’s pretty standard. While it might not appear a big issue to you, wait till your guests start speaking the truth. Most of the time, an excellent soapy bath can solve the problem. But, sometimes, an acrid smell emanating from your dog can indicate some serious health issues.

Dogs can smell due to skin issues, infections, dental issues, kidney diseases, diabetes, anal sac issues and flatulence. These are the common problems that can make your dog smell so bad. So, if you can’t remove the bad smell from your dog even after giving them a good bath, it’s time to pay a visit to the veterinarian to find out if your dog is suffering from any underlying conditions.

Smelly Dog Reasons

Normal Dog Smell

Most dog owners never notice it, but any visitor can take a whiff of your home and tell you that they can smell the dog. The typical smell of the dogs is not bad. Most dog lovers feel comfortable around the scent and often find it homely. But it is undeniable that dogs have a distinct smell.

The reason is, unlike humans, dogs and other canines do not sweat through their skin pores. Instead, they sweat from the hair follicles and paws. The dogs also produce an essential oil that keeps their hair and skin healthy.

Along with that, the glands in their ears produce a subtle yeast-like smell. The anal sac and glands of the dogs also release a musty scent. This scent attracts the attention of other dogs. That’s why when two dogs greet each other; they often smell the hindquarters of each other.

Dogs greeting each other smelling bums
Dogs greeting each other smelling bums

All these scents and oils create a bouquet that is different for each animal. It is this scent that helps the canines to identify each other. Your dog also leaves its scent on your furniture, carpet and clothes, which you should accept before opening your door to a dog.

So, if you are mulling about the question, why your dog smells, you probably should wash your dog along with the carpet and clothes first. Washing and cleaning will prevent the buildup of aromas and keep your dog from smelling bad.

Dental Issues

Do you know that the majority of pets suffer from some of the other types of dental issues till they become three years old? You would develop this problem too if you did not brush your teeth for three long years.

a dog getting his teeth cleaned
Clean your dog’s teeth daily

Like their human companions, the buildup of tartar and plaque on the teeth is also the primary cause of bad breath in dogs. So within hours of having a meal, the plaque starts forming in the teeth of your pet. Over time, it slowly hardens into cement-like tartar. These tartars and plaques are loaded with viruses and bacteria that create different dental issues in dogs. Some smaller dog breeds are especially prone to problems like gum troubles.

Gingival Hyperplasia is another dental problem of some specific dog breeds. It is a problem associated with the overgrowth of gums, which harbours bits of food, generating an acrid smell.

Cleaning the teeth of your dog is the first step to getting rid of this problem. While you can try to clean the teeth of your dog at home, your pet might need cleaning from veterinary professionals once in a while.

Kidney Disease

It is another health issue that answers the question, why does my dog smell? Dogs suffering from kidney troubles cannot eliminate the waste products from their bloodstream. Over time, the waste products build up in their bloodstream and give an ammonia-like stench to the breath of your dog.

Some people also notice a metallic smell in the breath of the dogs suffering from kidney failures. If your dog’s kidney function is impaired somehow, you will notice a significant increase in their water intake and urination. If you do not take your dog at the right time to the vet, the toxic buildup will progress rapidly. When your pet could not take enough water to flush out the buildup of toxins in its body, he or she might start vomiting or become nauseous. Your dog may also stop eating altogether.

Diabetes

Diabetes can also give an odour to the breath of your dog. In this case, your pet’s body could not produce enough insulin or could not correctly use the produced insulin. As a result, your pet would not be able to process the food and absorb the nutrients.

In this scenario, the dog’s body will break down itself to keep the flow of nutrients intact. Once this process starts, the dog starts producing ketones. It is the ketones that give the distinct smell to the breath of your dog. While some people say that it smells like nail polish, others find it a sweet smell.

Skin Issues

Skin infection is one of the most common problems of dogs of every breed. However, dogs with wrinkly skin suffer from this problem the most. Like English Bulldog, Pug, or a Shar-Pei, the breeds are vulnerable to a skin disease known as skin fold dermatitis.

The stinky disorder occurs because the skin’s folds create a moist environment that is the perfect breeding ground for microbes, like yeast and bacteria. The toxin that these organisms produce breaks down the skin barrier causing inflammation, irritation and infection. You will need to clean the folds of the skin frequently to keep these skin issues at bay.

Another common skin issue is Canine seborrhea. It is a condition that, if left untreated, can generate a musty smell. While there is no cure for this skin disease, Canine seborrhea can easily be managed by dog owners.
Allergies can also cause severe skin issues in your pet. Just like humans, allergies can cause skin rashes in dogs as well. By scratching and biting the rashes, the dog traumatises the affected area enough to break the skin barrier.

Once that’s done, it’s pretty easy for the bacteria and other microbes to slip through the skin’s breaks and cause stinky infection. Hormonal imbalances, parasites and fungus. It can boost the localised growth of the yeast, which in turn can make your dog smell bad. The more your dog scratches the area to get rid of the discomfort, the higher the chances are of a secondary bacterial infection. If that happens, then your dog will smell much worse.

So, if you are wondering why my dog smells, take a look at the skin condition of your dog. You can also take him or her to the vet if you can’t find the root cause of the smell with a naked eye inspection. You can also help with skin problems by giving your regular dog baths and keeping him clean, and using a small amount of Sudocrem on the problem area with help.

Please be aware that over bathing your dog will strip its skin of the essential oil that keeps the fur and skin healthy. So, it would be best if you talked to your vet to know about the right care methods for your dog. It will help you to keep your pet healthy and fend off the bad smells for good.

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Ear Infection

Allergies are one of the most typical causes of ear infection among pets. Because of their unique anatomy, some dog breeds, like hounds, are prone to ear infection than others. These dog breeds’ floppy ears trap the moisture inside their ear, creating a perfect environment for bacterial growth. If your dog frequently swims without a proper ear drying session, the chances of developing an ear infection can become very high.

Two dogs swimming in a lake with a stick in mouth
Dry ears after swimming

Like the folded skin, the dog’s ear is the perfect place for the microbes, like yeast and bacteria, to set up shop and take over the control. The usual debris that accumulates in your dog’s ear does not have any foul smell.

However, if you notice an acrid stench coming from the ears of your pet, you should immediately take your dog to the vet. Also, if your dog scratches her head or shakes it excessively, it might be a sign of an ear infection. Take your dog for a routine check-up to the vet immediately.

Anal Sac Issues

It is the most common reason for foul odours in dogs. Your canine companion has two small sacs on either side of the rectum. When the dog defecates, these glands create a thin foul-smelling fluid.

While these sacs are an essential part of the dogs’ anatomy, many of them suffer from anal sac issues. Typically, a healthy anal sac should not smell. However, if your pet suffers from an anal sac infection of impactions, you will smell a strong fishy stench.

A dogs fluffy bum
Anal Glands

In the earlier phase of the infection, the dogs excessively lick their hindquarters or try to scoot along the floor to put some pressure on the liquid-filled anal sac. If your canine companions conduct any such behaviour, you should schedule a visit to the vet for a manual check-up. If left untreated, the anal sac can rupture and take a form of an abscess. It can make your dog smell even worse than before.

Flatulence

If you talk to a room full of people about their dogs, you will hear a couple of stories about their dogs gas. While occasional flatulence, gurgling and burping are normal, excessive gas can indicate some health issues. A putrid, foul smell of the gas is not normal either.

If your dog has enough gas to clear a room, there is potentially some further issues. Most of the time, such smelly flatulence is accompanied by diarrhoea and vomiting. If your dog suffers from the problem of gas for weeks, you should go to the vet for a check-up. Sometimes, you can overcome the problem just by changing the diet of your pet.

Side profile of a Boxer dog breed
Boxer Dog Breed

Some dog breeds, like boxers, pugs, bulldogs, suffer more from gas issues due to their anatomy. The squished up nose of these breeds makes them inhale more air while eating, which leaves them with too much air in their digestive system. If you have one of these breeds, you can solve this issue by raising their feeding bowl; or probiotics. No matter what you do, always consult with your vet beforehand.

What to do about it

There are a couple of things that you can do to prevent problems. Starting with dental hygiene from the early days is one of the first steps that you should take.

It means you should plan for annual dental cleanings, brushing the teeth of your canine buddy at home and regularly offering them certain chews to keep the dental buildup away. Clean the folds of the skin and ear of your pet regularly and keep them dry. After every swimming session, clean your dog’s ear and dry it.

A dog with towel around him
Dry your dog’s ear’s to avoid any infections.

Even if your dog does not go for a swim, you should periodically clean its ears. Always stay strict about the diet of your dog. If you find that the diet is the answer to your question, then change it immediately. There are many healthy brands of dog food on today’s market. However, make sure to consult with a vet before bringing drastic change to your dog’s diet. Also, make sure to bathe your dog regularly.

All in all, if you follow the cleaning routine suggested by your veterinarian, then your dog should not smell bad. However, if the stench persists, then you should visit the veterinarian immediately. If you cannot find any visible cause for the stink, consult your vet immediately to determine whether there are any underlying health issues. To stay top of things, become a great dog parent, shower your canine companion with much love, and keep sniffing.

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