Smells You Need to Watch Out for In Your Dog

All dogs have a smell, and this is something to which their owners become accustomed over time. The smell can get stronger when your dog is ready for a bath or when they have been out in the rain, which induces the well-known wet dog smell. What many dog owners do not realize is that their dog’s smell is something that they should pay attention to, as it can indicate many different health problems if there are changes in the smell. Here is an overview of smells you need to watch out for in your dog.

Dental Problems

If your dog’s breath begins to smell, then the American Kennel Club Pet Insurance lists dental problems as one of the leading causes. Their breath will begin to smell bad if there is a build-up of plaque and tartare. In many cases, cleaning their teeth or giving them chews that are designed to remove the plaque or tartare can resolve this situation. However, bad breath can also indicate gum disease or a condition called Gingival Hyperplasia, which is when the gums overgrow and create pockets that hold food. It is best to get your dog’s dental health checked out by a veterinarian, and they may need professional dental cleaning or antibiotics for any infection.


A musty smell is a possible indicator that your dog is suffering from food or seasonal allergies. If a dog suffers from allergies, it can cause inflammation of the skin. In turn, this leads to some glands secreting an excessive amount of oil, and it is this that creates the musty smell. Similarly, yeast infections can also create a similar smell, and this is often caused by diets that are high in processed foods and carbohydrates. You can resolve this issue by giving your dog a high-protein diet.

Enlarged Anal Sacs

At the entrance to a dog’s anus, there are two glands that secrete oils. These are used to mark their territory with their scent. A common problem for dogs is the glands becoming impacted. This can cause your dog some discomfort and creates a foul-smelling secretion. These secretions become even more smelly as they linger on the fur around your dog’s bottom. Other than the smell, you will know if your dog has impacted anal glands because they will scoot around on their bottom. It is best to book an appointment with the veterinarian to resolve this problem. This will usually involve the veterinarian manually emptying the anal sacs.

Skin Fold Pyoderma

Skin fold pyoderma simply means a skin infection that occurs between folds of skin, says Reader’s Digest. The infection is caused by naturally occurring bacteria on the skin multiplying in the moist and warm environment between the folds. This causes a strong, musty odor. Although this can occur in dogs o all sizes and breeds, it is most common in overweight dogs and breeds that have rolls of skin, such as Mastiffs, English Bulldogs, Shar-peis, and Pugs.

Ear Infections

If the bad smell is stronger when your dog puts its head close to you, then a possible cause is ear infections. There are many different types of ear infections, as they are caused by either yeast or bacteria. Some dog breeds are more prone to ear infections than others. They are particularly common in dogs with floppy ears, such as Springer Spaniels and Basset Hounds.


Just like humans, dogs can suffer from flatulence problems. This problem is usually associated with their diet. If your dog is suffering from gas, then speak to your veterinarian as they can give you dietary advice about what your dog should eat and what you should avoid feeding them.

Kidney Failure

There are many symptoms of kidney failure, and one is a strong smell of urine on your dog’s breath. This is caused by your dog’s inability to process waste products from their blood. If you suspect that your dog has kidney failure, it is essential that they see the veterinarian as soon as possible. Your vet will need to identify the cause of kidney failure before your dog can begin treatment. Just some of the causes of kidney failure include age, hereditary problems, leptospirosis, and cancer.


Pet Assure says that canine diabetes is another reason for a change in your dog’s smell, especially the smell of their breath. If your dog is suffering from canine diabetes, then their breath will change from their usual dog breath and take on a sweet and sickly smell. This is potentially a sign of ketoacidosis, which is a complication of diabetes that needs urgent treatment. Likewise, it can be a sign of low blood sugar. If they are also shaking for no reason, then it is likely that their blood sugar is low.

Poor Hygiene

Sometimes, the cause of dog odor is little more than poor hygiene. Although dogs will groom themselves, it is your responsibility as a dog owner to make sure that your dog is properly groomed and given regular baths. Sometimes, you may need to give your dog a bath more often than usual. For example, if it has been rolling around outdoors or it has fecal matter trapped in the hair on its bottom, then extra baths are important. Otherwise, they can quickly develop a bad odor.

Dog Smells – The Bottom Line

Although all dogs have an odor, it is important that you take notice of any changes to their usual doggy smell. Sometimes, the smell is simply down to your dog needing a bath. However, it is potentially a sign of a medical condition, depending on the type of smell and where the smell is the strongest on your dog’s body. Some potential causes of your dog developing a bad smell include dental problems, canine diabetes, atopy, anal sac impaction, gas, skin infections, and ear infections.

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