Smelly Dogs: Causes of Dog Odor

Nobody wants a smelly dog.


It would be nice if your dog always smelled good, but sometimes that just isn’t the case. Usually, if the odor is coming from the outside of the dog (such as the skin), you can simply use one of the many pet odor air fresheners, body sprays, or special dog deodorizing shampoos on the market. However, if the smell is coming from the inside of the dog (such as gas), then we may need to take additional steps to eliminate the odor, in addition to trying to mask it.


The first step in eliminating a stinky odor from a dog is to find out where the bad smell is coming from. The next step is to take any necessary precautions to eliminate the odor (from both your dog and your home). The last step to getting rid of your dog’s bad odor is to keep the smell from returning.


Possible Causes

If the bad odor seems to be coming from within your dog, such as from bad gas, you need to first determine if your dog has any chronic diseases or dietary defects by visiting his or her veterinarian. Explain to the vet in as vivid detail as possible (I know--gross!). Describe what the odor smells like and when it seems to get worse (or better). The veterinarian will probably run a few tests to look for diseases, indigestion, or infections.



Believe it or not, your dog’s gas is not supposed to smell all that bad. If your dog has really stinky gas, though, it could come from a number of things like something he or she ate,  infections, allergies, or medication side effects. Your dog’s veterinarian should do a thorough examination run tests to look for any possible internal explanations for the extra stinky fumes. If he or she can’t find any reason, the most likely explanation is the diet you are feeding your dog. You can ask your vet (or do your research) to find out what your dog should or shouldn’t be eating to decrease the smell of his or her gas.


Improper Diet

A diet that is full of lower-quality foods (such as cheap brand dry kibbles) are usually going to be very low in higher-quality ingredients (such as protein and good fat or fatty acids) and very high in carbohydrates (or starches). Your veterinarian will be your best source for good diet information, but do some research first and write down some high-quality natural and nutritious diets as well as any essential supplements (such as flaxseed or fish oils) to ask your veterinarian about. Making dietary improvements will almost always improve your dog’s odor, even if there is still a problem that is causing a bit of a stench on the outside of the dog as well.


Halitosis (Bad Breath)

If your dog is super stinky breath, he may be suffering from dental problems, dietary issues, indigestion, or constipation. Healthy dogs may have a musty odor coming from their breath, but will not really stink that bad. You should, of course, have your veterinarian check for any dental issues or dietary problems, but you can also do your part. Only feed your dog the healthy diet his or her vet has suggested and take care of his or her teeth by brushing them daily (or at least regularly). There are many other causes and remedies for bad breath, so always consult with your veterinarian before trying anything at home that might cause harm to your dog.


Ear Infections

If your dog has a bad smell, like rotting flesh or swamp gas, coming from his or her ears, there may be either an easy solution to get rid of the odor or a serious medical need, so get any bad ear smells checked out by your veterinarian right away. Dogs should have regular ear cleaning, especially if they have extra long and floppy ears, so ask your veterinarian to show you or do your own research to find out the best solution and method for cleaning his or her ears out. Check for any infections, sores, mites, dirt, and debris that might be causing your dog’s ears to stink.


Anal Gland Problems 

If your dog has impacted or abscessed anal glands, then they might make him or her stink as well. When your dog has a very powerful and nasty smell coming from his or her rear or is scooting their rear across carpets and all dietary issues have been ruled out or remedied, then there might be a physical anal problem. Contact a veterinarian right away.

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