3 min read

Smelly Dogs: Causes of Dog Odor


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It would be nice if your dog always smelled good, but sometimes that just isn’t the case. If your pup is the curious kind and occasionally likes to roll in something stinky, that kind of smell can easily be taken care of with a quick bath. Or if your companion is a breed that is prone to flatulence, like the Pug or Bulldog, well it's a little characteristic that you will have to get used to.

But if your dog is particularly odorous all of the time, there is a reason for it. It could mean disease, dental problems, or something like an ear infection. Taking your furry buddy to the vet for a check-up is what needs to be done. The first step in eliminating a stinky odor from a dog is asking your vet to find out where the bad smell is coming from.

Why is my dog smelly? 

These are a few of the common reasons for a dog that has an odor. Consult your vet to rule these and other possible causes out:

Bad Breath

Most often, a dog with stinky breath is suffering from a dental issue. An infected tooth, gum disease, or excessive plaque build-up all point to a problem with your pup's pearly whites. Take your companion for a check-up and potential cleaning, and then learn how to brush your dog's teeth.

Ear Infection

Many dogs have long, floppy ears that harbor dirt and moisture. An ear canal can often become infected when debris remains in the ear or parasites like mites invade. Inflammation caused by foreign objects, or even allergies, can lead to bacterial or fungal build-up, allowing a painful ear infection to develop. Do not try to treat at home; your dog may need antibiotics.


Pyoderma is a condition of the skin that typically develops as a secondary problem. It may start with a flea bite or food allergy, an underlying disease like hypothyroidism, or a parasitic disease like mange. Bacterial overgrowth may eventually turn into a smelly, painful skin issue that must be treated with antibiotics.


Canine seborrhea can present with oily, smelly, scaly skin and affected areas often include the ears and paws. Some breeds, like the American Cocker Spaniel, Golden Retriever, and Basset Hound are prone. Medicated shampoo can help but if there is a secondary infection, antifungal or antibacterial prescriptions will be needed.

Skin Fold Dermatitis

You may have a Pug or Chinese Shar-Pei with adorable folds in their skin. You have to watch out for moisture build-up within the folds, which should be checked and dried on a daily basis. Dampness that is left unchecked will quickly become odorous, with increasing chances of infection.

Anal Sac Issues

If your furry buddy has impacted or infected anal sacs, there will be an odor emanating from their hind end. Consult the veterinarian because not only does your dog smell bad, but they could also be in pain. Impacted and infected anal sacs can rupture, which is serious.


Besides a dog that tends to pass a lot of gas (if it is constant and very smelly talk to the vet about a possible diet change) or likes to roll in stinky smells at the dog park, the typical dog will not have a strong odor following them everywhere unless there is a problem that should be attended to.

However, there are tips to keeping your dog smelling sweet:

  • Brush your dog's teeth daily or at the very least, three times a week
  • Bathe your dog when necessary and in between baths, a gentle dog-appropriate wipe can be used to clean the fur
  • Use only vet-approved shampoos for bathing your dog
  • Clean your pup's feet when they come inside
  • Brush your furry buddy every week to remove dead skin cells and debris

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