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Why Does My Dog Smell Bad?

It’s normal for dogs to have a certain whiff about them. This is usually caused by oils in the fur and by secretions from your dog’s glands (this is the reason that dogs like to sniff each others’ butts). This smell cannot be avoided if you have a dog. Fortunately, this smell tends to be mild enough that most owners eventually don’t notice it.

Stronger eye-watering smells are not normal and may be a cause for concern. If your pooch has developed a serious pong that’s impossible to ignore, it could be essential that you find the cause. Below are just a few things that can cause a stinky dog and what you can do to get rid of the smell.


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Wet dog

Dogs tend to give off a very strong odor when wet. If your dog has recently been for a walk in the rain or had a bath, then this could be the obvious reason as to why they smell.

That ‘wet dog’ smell is the result of water mixing with oils in the fur. When the two mix, bacteria forms on your dog’s coat, which produces the smell. You can prevent the smell of wet dog stinking out your house by thoroughly drying your dog with a towel or a hairdryer.

Rolling in muck

When out on a walk, many dogs develop an unfortunate habit of rolling in animal feces or rolling over a dead bird. Why on earth do dogs do this? It’s in fact an evolutionary habit used to cover up their own scent so that they can hide from prey or predators.

If your dog has recently been outside and you notice that they have a foul whiff to them that is more pungent than wet dog smell, it’s likely they’ve rolled in some muck. You’ll have to get your dog a thorough rinse and a scrub to get the smell out. This may include using dog shampoo or using citrus to help break down the grease that may be matted into their fur. You could bathe them or use a hose.

To prevent this from becoming a regular occurrence, you must train your dog to not roll in smelly things. While on walks, keep an eye on your dog and look out for any smelly things they may want to roll in. If you see your dog eying something up in the grass and getting into a pre-roll pounce, tell them immediately to ‘leave it’. This guide offers more information on stopping your dog rolling in muck.

Bad breath

Dogs generally don’t have very pleasant breath. However, if their breath is exceptionally smelly, there may be an underlying cause.

The most common cause of bad breath in dogs is tooth decay. By looking in your dog’s mouth, you may be able to see visible signs of decay. Bleeding gums, distressed sounds when eating, and loss of appetite can also be signs of tooth decay. By seeing a dog dentist, you may be able to diagnose and treat the problem (you could use a veterinarian or a specialist dog dentist).

Brushing a dog’s teeth can often prevent tooth decay – many owners fail to realize that just like humans, dogs need to keep up a dental hygiene routine. You can buy specialist toothpaste and toothbrushes for dogs. Dental chew toys can also help. On top of this, you should carefully consider your dog’s diet and try not to feed them too many unhealthy foods.

Other causes of bad breath could include a fish-heavy diet, gut problems, or diabetes. If you’re certain that tooth decay isn’t the issue and you’re certain that it’s not just the smelly food they’re eating, it could be worth seeing a vet to diagnose the problem. Symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst, or excessive tiredness could all be key indicators of a health problem.


It’s possible that the offending strong smells could be coming from the other end. All dogs produce gas, just like humans – and it can be very smelly. In most cases, flatulence is not a cause for concern. However, if it is unbearably smelly or happening very frequently, you may want to look into it.

Abnormal flatulence in dogs is usually caused by one of two things – you’ve recently changed their diet or they’ve eaten a food that hasn’t agreed with them. In the latter case, foods like dairy, beans, spoiled foods, or spicy foods are big culprits.

If flatulence is accompanied by runny stools, severe bloating, or vomiting, you may want to see a vet. Excessive flatulence may also be worth seeing a vet for – medication or a special diet may be recommended to improve your dog’s digestive health.

Yeast infections

Dogs can also develop yeast infections around the body, which can give off a foul odor. This could be an ear infection, a skin infection or an infection in the anal glands. Quite often they develop in folds in the skin or in warm and damp areas where bacteria can thrive. There may be visible signs of redness or flaky skin. You may also constantly notice your dog scratching the area.

Yeast infections are common in dogs – especially certain breeds such as basset hounds, cocker spaniels, and poodles. They are usually triggered by a skin allergy, possibly from a plant or a chemical. These infections are not contagious and cannot be passed from dog to dog.

If you suspect that your dog has an infection, the best thing that you can do is to visit a vet for a professional opinion. Many infections can be cleared up simply by prescribing antibiotics. More serious infections may require a skin drain or surgery (this is usually only if an infection has gone unnoticed for a while).

Yeast infections can’t always be prevented, however, the sooner you notice them, the easier they’ll be to treat. If you regularly groom your dog, you may notice infections sooner.

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