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8 Reasons Why Your Dog Might Smell Bad

Dog in soapy foam bath

Have you ever heard someone say that something “smells like a wet dog”?

I know I have, especially when you get to restaurants and the table doesn't smell fresh.

Poor dogs… they get blamed for any bad odour, don’t they? Truth is, your dog shouldn’t smell bad! Sure, some of his “parts” aren’t going to smell like roses, but overall, a bad smell is generally a problem.

Being around your dog, you may be accustomed to the smells and think its normal until it becomes a problem. Or someone else points it out to you.

A pungent, yeasty smell was often bad skin issues, or sometimes overly yeasty ear wax; a potent, sharp, spoiled milk kind-of smell was usually an ear infection.

And, of course, abnormally bad breath is most certainly an indicator of health problems. I have also noticed by working with dogs that some breeds, like Hounds, for example, have a distinctive scent, as do Cocker Spaniels and others, but some, like Poodles, have no discernible scent whatsoever.

Just like us, all dogs have a unique smell, caused by the oils in our skin or what we have ingested. Sniff a dog’s feet and they’re probably going to smell like Frito chips or popcorn… Not a bad smell, but some people find it offensive.

A dog sweats through his feet, and we can pretty much surmise that a sweaty area is not going to smell good, even on us. But put your nose in your dog’s fur or kiss the top of his head, and you should not detect any bad odour. Bad odours can be the sign of a serious disease.

The reasons why your dog might smell, is quite common and can easily be solved.

Ear Infection

There are so, so many different reasons for a dog to have smelly ears… from lack of cleanliness, continual moisture (from swimming, perhaps), excessive hair on top of or inside the ear canal, etc… And the degree to how bad the ears smell is also significant.

A light, yeasty smell may mean nothing more than your dog just needs his ears cleaned. An ear infection has a much stronger, sickening smell and should be reported to your veterinary right away.

Stinky, infected ears can often be recognised from a distance… You’ll think, wow, that dog stinks, but upon closer inspection, you find that the dog does not stink, but the smell from his ears is overpowering.

Try our range of ear cleansers that will safely clean your pet's ears while relieving the discomfort of itchy, smelly and dirty ears or Ear Dr to treat and prevent ear infections without any of the side effects.

Skin Issues

Remember me saying that my dog smells sweet and fresh? Guess what? He has canine seborrhoea, a condition that, when not controlled, results in a musty, sort-of stinky cheese smell due to the build-up of sebum and yeast on his skin. His odour was what prompted a visit to his vet a few years back.

Once diagnosed, we were put on a rigid regime of bathing, medicine, and ear cleaning which we follow religiously. There is no cure for canine seborrhoea, but it can definitely be managed. He now smells like a “normal” dog should smell.

Although it is probably one of the most common, canine seborrhoea is not the only skin issue that can cause an odour. Allergies, hormonal imbalances, fungus, parasites and localised inflammation can lead to an overgrowth of yeast or bacteria on the skin and cause an unpleasant smell.

Your dog’s discomfort will lead to excessive scratching and licking which can cause a secondary bacterial infection.

A secondary bacterial infection worsens the odour even more so. Any unpleasant smell to your dog’s skin should be brought to your vet’s attention before it progresses into something truly damaging.

Many dogs have overlapping folds in the skin… think Bulldog, Shar Pei's, Pugs, some Mastiffs, etc.. These folds can retain too much moisture and microorganisms resulting in the build-up of infection-causing bacteria. Skin folds require consistent cleaning to keep them dry and odour free.

If your dog’s skin appears irritated, red or smelly around the folds, he may already have dermatitis or an infection. Over-bathing in an attempt to fend off the odour can cause your dog to have too little oil, causing skin irritation. Talk to your vet about how to achieve a proper balance to keep your dog’s skin folds healthy.

Treat dry skin conditions and other allergies with our range of skin and coat tonics to treat chronic and skins issues, hypo allergen shampoos and conditioners, Itchy Skin Relief or the Hot Spot Relief to treat itchy skin allergies, yeast infections, ringworm, hot spots, eczema.

Bad Breath

Dogs tend to eat and chew anything and everything and then come over for a kiss. We all have our favourite story of how the furbaby brought in a dead bird or rat or something like that.

Its natural for them have bad breath from eating, sleeping and normal activity and like us, their mouths contains bacteria as well, so bad breath is normally the result of a build-up of odour-producing bacteria in your dog’s mouth.

It can also be something far worse. Persistent bad breath can be caused by an abnormality in not only your dog’s mouth but his respiratory system, gastrointestinal tract or internal organs.

Some diseases will cause your dog to have bad breath, namely diabetes, kidney disease, or liver disease. Generally, the issue comes from poor dental health, heavy tartar build-up, dental infections and periodontal disease, none of which should be taken lightly.

Treat bad breathe easily with all natural pet toothpaste to ensure strong teeth and gums, breaks down plaque buildup and protects against bad breath and oral disease! Or try the Breathe spray  or Fresh Breath Tonic to remove plaque and tartar buildup for a cleaner, fresher and healthier mouth for dogs and controls the bacteria that cause bad breath. 

Anal Glands

Often described as a “fishy odour”, anal gland smell is not for the faint of heart. Anal glands are small secretory glands on both sides of a dog’s rectum and are a very natural and necessary part of your dog’s anatomy.

Unfortunately, many dogs seem to have problems with them, causing pain, “mess” and most certainly a nasty odour.

Normal, healthy anal glands should not emit an odour unless you’re a dog and you’re sniffing them out. If your dog’s anal glands smell bad, they may need to be expressed, or he has a problem, both of which will require a veterinary visit.

Gas Attacks

Guaranteed… if you’re in a room of people and begin talking about dogs, someone will bring up how bad their dog has gas. Occasional burping, gurgling, and flatulence are normal, but excessive gas could indicate a problem. 

Yep it may create humour in the moment, but its better treated especially if it seems like its the norm,

A foul, putrid smell is not normal either. When gas is daily and consistent, it could be a sign that something is wrong and you should bring it up with your vet. The solution may be something as simple as a change in food or as serious as the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease.

Some dogs are famous for their gas issues… pugs, bulldogs, boxers. That’s due to the way their faces are structured…those adorable squished-up noses cause them to suck in air while they’re eating, leading to too much air in their digestive system.

There are tricks to helping these little guys consume less air… like maybe raising their bowl, or giving them probiotics. Talk to your vet about possible solutions.

For other issues, try helping your furry family member with Digestive Support a herbal remedy for dogs with chronic digestive conditions or the Woof and Brew Windy Hound Health Tonic that helps promote a healthy, calm digestive tract & helps to break up & disperse gas.

Urinary Tract Infection

If your pup smells like urine, he could have a urinary tract infection. Oh, your poor dog… it’s more common than you would think, and oh, it is so miserable. If it is a bladder or urinary tract infection, you will notice other signs like an increased frequency to “go outside”, more trips to the water bowl, or straining or pain when urinating. You may see blood in his urine.

Regardless, any abnormal urine odour needs to be discussed with your vet. There are other reasons for a strong urine smell, like kidney stones, diabetes, or maybe even some type of fungal infection, all requiring immediate medical attention.

Try using either the UTI-Free Bladder treatment, a homeopathic treatment for bladder infections in dogs or Diabetonic which is a natural treatment for dogs and cats with diabetes. 

Lack Of Grooming

Like humans who have a daily hygiene routine, the same holds true for your dog. Whether you have an indoor or outdoor dog, they interact with the elements and fare worse for it.

I guess this one goes without saying, but a dirty dog is a stinky dog! Brushing your dog goes a long way in helping to decrease any unpleasant smells between baths.

Brushing gets rid of dirt, dead skin cells, dried saliva and anything else hiding out in your dog’s fur. You’ll probably be surprised at how much better your dog will smell after a simple, but thorough brushing.

One more thing… Be sure to keep Fido’s bedding clean. It might be a chore to keep their beds and blankets clean, but it makes a huge difference in not only his smell, but the way the house smells too. 

It also helps to wash your dog’s plush chew toys and fleecy ropes. The build-up of saliva can cause your dog’s breath to smell sour. To help keep the home environment clean use Sprogley's Intense Odour and Stain remover for all those unfortunate mishaps. 

It's easy to keep your dog clean with our range of shampoos, conditioners, face wipes, and body mists

Wet Dog

Let’s get back to that “wet dog” thing… It’s for real! Despite the fact that you wash and brush your dog regularly, microorganisms like yeast and bacteria live in your dog’s fur. It’s normal.

As long as your dog stays dry, there is no unpleasant smell. But guess what? Those microorganisms leave behind faecal matter (gross), or (easier to stomach) “organic chemicals”.

There’s a whole science behind what happens when these organic chemicals get wet, but I’m no scientist…. The simplest description I can come up with is that these compounds separate from your dog’s fur when wet, become condensed, and then kind-of disperse into the air causing that yucky smell. Towel drying alone won’t fix the smell. He needs to be thoroughly dried, either by the sun or blower.

You can also use dry shampoo formulas to help keep your dog clean for in-between washes or grooming sessions. Try the Dry Pet Shampoo or the Hownd Waterless Natural Shampoo which is 4-in-1 formula that safely lifts dirt, mud and stinky stuff from your pet's coat or the Animology Dirty Dawg No Rinse Shampoo thats a vitamin and conditioner enriched no-rinse dog shampoo spray with a deep cleaning action that removes dirt and odour.

Dogs are great but they require care and attention. Like their human owners they need to grooming, cleaning and frequent hygiene regime. Sometimes it's a little more than grooming and cleaning products in which case a visit to vet could help. Either way, once the problem of the bad smell is identified, it can easily be treated and managed.

Adapted from original post.

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