Dogs don't smell like freshly-showered people -- they're not supposed to! They have their own smell, which varies from dog to dog, but it's not unpleasant. In fact, many people love to bury their nose in their pet's fur and inhale that wonderful doggy scent.
A healthy dog who is regularly brushed and bathed should not smell bad. If your dog has an unpleasant odor, there's a reason, and you need to find out what it is.
Is It a Yeast Infection?
A yeast infection is a very common cause of stinky dogs. Yeast has a very pungent, musty, unique odor that has been compared to moldy bread, cheese popcorn, or corn chips. Some people actually refer to a yeast infection on a dog's paws as "Frito Feet."
Stinky paws or musty-smelling ears are usually a sign of yeast overgrowth. So is scratching. Itchy ears, itchy paws and butt scooting are all signs of a potential problem with yeast.
Speaking of Butt Scooting...
Inflamed, infected or impacted anal glands will also cause an unpleasant odor to follow your dog around (literally).
The anal glands or sacs sit just inside the rectum and secrete a very smelly, oily substance thought to be a territorial marker. If there's a buildup of that substance in the anal glands, you'll notice a smell that is often compared to rotting fish.
While We're on the Topic of Your Dog's Rear-end...
Passing gas (flatulence) can also be the reason for a smelly dog. If you've ever driven any distance with a gassy dog in a vehicle with the windows rolled up, you know what I'm talking about. Some flatulence is normal, but a chronically stinky situation is not.
There are several reasons dogs create excessive amounts of gas, including poor diet and intestinal parasites. If your dog's smelly gas is more or less constant, it's time to make an appointment with your vet, especially if he has other symptoms of a GI issue like abdominal distension, diarrhea, constipation, or weight loss.
If your dog has an unpleasant odor but you can't seem to locate the source of it, check her ears. As I mentioned earlier, a yeast overgrowth in the ears can cause a musty odor.
A bacterial infection with ear discharge might also be the source of the smell.
Ear mites can also cause a waxy secretion and strong odor.
Bad Doggy Breath
Your dog's breath will never smell like yours after brushing and flossing. Dogs don't care about minty fresh breath.
But if your pet's mouth is clean and he's otherwise healthy, his doggy breath should not be offensive. There really shouldn't be much mouth odor at all unless he's just eaten, in which case you might smell remnants of his meal on his breath.
Chronic bad breath in pets has the same causes as halitosis in humans. Most often it's poor oral hygiene, but something wrong in the GI tract can also cause bad breath.
Poor Diet and/or Food Intolerances
What you feed your dog affects every inch of her, inside and out. A dog who is fed a biologically inappropriate diet or one that contains ingredients she's sensitive to is at risk for a wide variety of illnesses, some of which can give her an unpleasant odor.
This is especially true for dogs with poor skin and coat condition due to a problem that started with their diet. Often these pets are deficient in omega-3 fatty acids.
Some illnesses and chronic conditions can cause an unpleasant smell, including certain cancers, diabetes and kidney disease.
Behaving Like a Dog
Sometimes dogs stink themselves up deliberately.
Some dogs will roll in another animal's poop if they get the chance. Some will eat another animal's poop or even their own.
Some dogs roll in dead animal remains. Others pick up dead, decomposing animals in their mouths and carry them around, or present them to their owners as gifts.
If your favorite furry friend has one of these distasteful tendencies, all you can really do is supervise him closely and limit his opportunities to channel his wilder nature. If he does manage to roll in something offensive or sample some random poop, a bath or a round of tooth brushing should get rid of the smell.
One exception to this is, of course, the dreaded skunk encounter. For a simple, effective remedy for skunk smell, view my video "Far Better than Tomato Juice as a Skunk Rinse."
A Chronic Bad Odor Shouldn't Be Ignored
If your dog smells bad most of the time or you notice the same odor intermittently, I urge you to make an appointment to have your dog seen by your vet.
It's important to your pet's health and quality of life to find and resolve the underlying cause of chronic bad odor.
Dr. Karen Becker is a proactive and integrative wellness veterinarian. You can visit her site at: MercolaHealthyPets.com.
Her goal is to help you create wellness in order to prevent illness in the lives of your pets. This proactive approach seeks to save you and your pet from unnecessary stress and suffering by identifying and removing health obstacles even before disease occurs. Unfortunately, most veterinarians in the United States are trained to be reactive. They wait for symptoms to occur, and often treat those symptoms without addressing the root cause.
By reading Dr. Becker's information, you'll learn how to make impactful, consistent lifestyle choices to improve your pet's quality of life.