“It smells like a dog in here!”
“That smells like a wet dog!”
Have you ever heard these phrases? They’re always derogatory, and we innately know that the speaker is saying that the smell isn’t pleasant. What’s more, when we consider that we pet parents may get “nose blind” to the scent of our dogs, if WE can smell our dog, what does that mean for the people around us?
Dogs DO naturally have a scent (well, except for the Whippet and a few other breeds that are said not to have this characteristic), but that doesn’t mean you have to live with it.
Common Causes To Dog Body Odor
There are actually some reasons why your dogs smell, and, luckily, there are some measures you can take to combat unpleasant dog body odor.
1. Dental problems
Dogs are like humans in that they can develop dental problems. Even pets whose parents regularly brush their teeth can experience dental problems. However, there are many pet parents who do not bother with dog teeth cleaning or fail to do so properly.
Plaque and tartar can build up on your dog’s teeth even with the best efforts to keep it at bay. Then there are some breeds that are more prone to gum disease than others (these are typically small breed dogs, too). Yet other breeds may be genetically predisposed to a dental problem called Gingival Hyperplasia . When a dog suffers from gingival hyperplasia, it may cause the gums to overgrow, and food and bacteria can become hidden in the area.
Pet parents should begin brushing their dogs’ teeth regularly from the time they are puppies. It is important to brush all areas of the dogs’ teeth, removing as much leftover food, tartar, and plaque as possible. However, some pet parents have to resort to a professional cleaning from a canine dentist (some vets offer this service too).
If you begin to smell worse than the normal bad breath in your dog, then see your vet for a checkup and possible cleaning. It is a good idea to utilize dental chews, too. However, regular brushing at least once or twice a week is important for your dog’s health.
Let’s face it—our precious pups may have digestive issues that result in gas—horrible, dreadful gas! Some breeds are more prone to gas, and brachycephalic breeds are some of the chief offenders (no pun intended).
For brachycephalic dogs, there is little you can do to change the chief issue causing the gas. These dogs have a shorter muzzle and they tend to gasp for air at times. This extra air has to leave the body, and gas is usually the way that happens.
However, if you have a dog that has never been very gassy but suddenly can clear a room with his gas, then it may be time to talk to your vet regarding Fido’s diet. Keep in mind that this may be the type of solution that is trial and error until you find a dog food that doesn’t cause Fido to be a stinky dog. You may have to go with a food that is grain-free or one that uses salmon or other fish as one of its main ingredients.
In some cases, your dog’s gas may be a symptom of some underlying medical condition that has nothing to do with the way Fido breathes or what he eats. Again, if you’ve tried every dog food available with no changes, your vet may have to run some tests to see exactly what is going on.
Dogs don’t have food allergies—or do they? The fact is, dogs can develop food allergies just as we humans do. While they may not have a reaction like anaphylactic shock (think a peanut allergy in humans), they may develop gas or skin issues that can drive the pet absolutely crazy.
Dogs may not be able to digest gluten any better than humans. The new movement toward more gluten-free commercial dog food is evident that scientists and vets have found dogs can suffer from many of the same health issues we do.
It’s a good idea to avoid corn, wheat, enriched flour, and any ingredient with the word “by-product” after it. Unfortunately, many popular dog food manufacturers add corn, flour, and the like to “fill” the nutritional gaps in dog food. The food is cheaper to manufacture (and cheaper to buy) and many pet parents simply don’t know that these ingredients may actually make life miserable for Fido in the short run and fatal in the long run (yes, some of these ingredients, especially artificial colors, contain chemicals that may be carcinogens).
Again, if your dog has been eating commercial dog food from a typically reputable company, don’t beat yourself up too bad. Most of the public never reads the ingredient labels of dog food. We pet parents see “fortified” or “nutritionally balanced” on a bag of dog food, and we think we’re providing our dogs with the right food for their needs. However, one must keep in mind that “feed grade” products—that means food produced for animals and not humans—don’t follow the same guidelines as our human food.
Your dog may develop a food allergy and the chief symptom is gas. However, you may also notice skin issues start to pop up as well. Fido may begin to gnaw or scratch at certain areas of his skin due to a food allergy too. If there is a combination of both horrid gas and skin irritation, then you can be sure a food allergy is to blame.
4. Ear Infections
Ear infections are sneaky. This funky smell doesn’t typically permeate the dog’s entire body, and you may only notice it when Fido is very close. In other cases, you may smell the built-up bacteria causing an ear infection as soon as Fido walks in the room. Either way, an ear infection must be treated promptly to avoid hearing loss in Fido.
Some ear infections are caused by a build-up of yeast making a dog’s ears smell. A dog with long ears or one that has gotten water in his ears either when playing outdoors or in the bath could develop an ear infection due to an overgrowth of yeast.
A good round of antibiotics is the best way to get rid of the source of this sickly sweet smell. As pet parents, it’s also ideal to know how to clean dog ears regularly.
Basset Hounds and Springer Spaniels are usually more prone to ear infections than other breeds.
5. Anal Sacs
All dogs have two small scent sacs near the anus. Ever noticed that two dogs tend to sniff each other’s rears when they initially meet? The anal sac is responsible for this behavior. It is called a “marking” gland.
Unfortunately, it has a tendency to build up fluid that needs to be drained. Otherwise, the odor can become unbearable.
Most of the time, a dog’s anal sac requiring draining is the result of the sacs becoming impacted. This is painful for your dog, and the sacs will begin to slowly leak onto your dog’s fur. The secretion has a horrific smell itself.
If you notice your dog dragging his rear on the ground, he may be experiencing a problem with his anal glands.
Your vet can teach you how to express dog anal glands safely.
What are some other things to consider when trying to combat smelly dog odors?
It is important to bathe your dog regularly. How often should you bathe your dog? Typically, a dog should get a good bath every four to six weeks (some dogs with dry skin can go eight weeks). Be sure to brush your dog’s teeth at least twice weekly, but if you smell your dog’s breath as fruity or sweet, then you may have an issue with diabetes or an infection.
Some infections will cause your dog’s breath to smell like urine, so, if this is the case, be sure to get Fido to the vet immediately—they could generally also explain why your dog smells the way it does.
1. How can I stop my dog from smelling so bad?
Be sure to regularly bathe your dog, about every four weeks. Brush your dog’s teeth at least twice a week. Check for diet issues, and change Fido’s diet if necessary. If all these solutions fail, then take Fido to the vet for a check-up to find out why your dog smells and how to stop it.
2. Why does my dog smell so bad even after a bath?
Your dog may have an underlying issue that bathing isn’t fixing. Your dog may have an issue with anal gland impaction, or she may have an infection that needs antibiotic treatment.