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Smelly or Bad Odor

Normal dogs don’t necessarily have the freshest scent. They can smell like wet fur, like kibble, like the garbage they just got into…the list goes on. These are the smells we accept in exchange for unconditional doggie love (and also the fact that their cute little paws always seem to smell like Fritos). 

However, if you notice that your dog smells bad in a different way than usual, take note. 

The first step is always to rule out ‘mischief-related causes’ (ie: sprayed by skunk, rolled in poop). While unpleasant, these sorts of smells are treated in the bathtub. Beyond that, there are several health conditions that can cause body odor as a primary symptom. These include skin and ear infections, dental disease, anal gland issues, and even some kinds of cancer. 

Because a bad odor often means infection is present, you don’t want to wait too long to get into your veterinarian. Oral or topical antibiotics or antifungal medications may be necessary. In the meantime, if you notice your dog is licking at their skin, or bum, or scratching at their ears, an Elizabethan collar (ie: a ‘cone’) should be used to prevent them from making the issue worse. 

For some recurrent stinky issues, such as ear infections and anal gland impaction, ask your veterinarian to educate you on at-home prevention measures. For example, the best way to clean ears, or the best products for your dog’s particular issue that can be used at home.

Some owners can even learn to express their own dog’s anal glands when needed. Just make sure to talk to your vet before attempting any new treatment or prevention plans; a proper diagnosis is the first step.

Pro tips for visiting the veterinarian:

  • Make a note of any new or different smells from your dog, and try to include details about anything they might have eaten or gotten into recently.
  • Try to identify where the bad smell is coming from: mouth, ears, hind area or a general smell? Has your dog also been scratching or chewing at themselves?
  • Bad odors often indicate there is an infection present, so you don’t want to wait too long to talk to your veterinarian.

References for smelly or bad odor

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