Your Pet

Why does my dog smell?

There is nothing worse than a smelly dog and if you think your dog smells a bit, chances are your friends and visitors think he stinks. So, do Fido a favour and get to the bottom of his problem ( pardon the pun) so you can enjoy the company of your fur-friend once more.

A dog’s smell is like a doggy identity card. It tells other dogs who he is and probably many other things beside, such as his sex, where he has been, perhaps his mood. A dog’s sense of smell is so much more sensitive than a human’s as a dog has more than 220 million olfactory receptors in its nose, while humans have only 5 million. It is natural for a dog to smell like a dog but with our relatively inefficient noses the odour should be mild.

There are many reasons why your dog may smell bad and most of the odours described as ‘doggy’ are actually due to factors out of your dogs control.

Rolling - Much to our horror, dogs love to roll in substances we find particularly unpleasant and the dog will smell of whatever it has decided to perfume itself with. On the beach this is frequently seaweed, dead fish or dead sea birds. In the countryside it is more likely to be cow manure! While the dogs seem to love it, this habit can be stomach turning to us. If your dog is a roller, the main precaution you can take is to keep him/her on the lead. And be prepared for regular bathing.

Excess hair - Long and profusely coated breeds often become soiled with urine or faeces. And some breeds of dogs have excessive lip folds or hairy beards. A constant supply of saliva keeps these areas moist allowing bacterial or yeast infections that become the source of a doggy odour. Keep the hair around these areas trimmed short.

There are also health conditions that can cause dogs to develop a strong smell and these need to be treated by a vet.

Bad breath is often a sign of dental disease. Tooth decay, infected gums, an abscessed tooth or a foreign body such as bone or a stick that is stuck in the mouth can all cause halitosis. Your vet can check for plaque buildup and dental decay.
To prevent dental disease, try to include hard dry food in the diet and raw marrow bones.

Ear infections can be very smelly. Unlike humans, dogs cannot drain water from their ears after swimming due to a long ear canal with a 45 degree turn. Drop-eared dogs such as Cocker Spaniels and Basset Hounds have limited air flow to dry out the ear and moisture is the perfect environment for micro-organisms to thrive, especially yeast and bacteria. Early symptoms are shaking of the head but if neglected pus and a foul smell become apparent.  
Ear infections can be very painful and must be treated by your veterinarian as soon as possible.

Primary seborrhea is an inherited disorder where the epidermis (outer layer of the skin), the sebaceous glands, and hair follicles are over productive, creating dry skin flakes or excessive sebum secretion. Affected dogs usually have a dull coat with a greasy feel, excessive scaling, and smelly skin especially in the body folds, smelly waxy ears, and smelly feet with thickened pads and brittle claws.

Secondary seborrhea looks the same ass primary seborrhea but results from another factor such as parasites bothering the skin.

Your vet will work with you to confirm the cause and make a treatment plan which will include medicated shampoos.

Anal Glands All dogs have anal glands located on each side of the anus. Each time a stool is passed these secrete an oily substance with a unique scent that is deposited on the surface of the stool primarily for territorial marking. If these become impacted or infected, or if the dog becomes very frightened, the anal glands may release and oily, smelly secretion on to the surrounding fur resulting in a really foul odour.

You veterinarian can show you how to check and even empty the anal sacs although this is definitely not for the faint hearted – you may prefer to have your vet do this rather unpleasant task for you.

Infected Skin   A doggy smell is often associated with an infected skin. This smell is a combination of bacteria and yeasts, both of which are normally found on your dog's coat. When the skin becomes weakened - such as with an allergy - the bacteria and yeasts over-populate the skin, causing itching, redness, andsmell.   You may need medicated shampoo and a course of antibiotics.

Sarcoptic mange is caused by a mite that burrows into the skin. Dogs with sarcoptic mange have a distinctive musty smell and bald areas where hair has fallen out.

Demodetic mange is caused by a mite that live within the hair follicles and sebaceous glands. It usually first occurs as hair loss around the eyes and corners of the mouth in dogs under one year old. It can spread to the legs and trunk of the dogs and develop into a moist discharging form with a foul odour.

Over bathing your dog can actually add to skin problems and resulting ‘doggy’ odour. Using dog shampoos that keep the skin’s ph within the normal limits, making sure there is no soiled hair, drying the dog when it is wet and regular brushing will prevent a strong ‘doggy’ smell from healthy dogs but if an odour persists a veterinary check up is essential

To Remove the smell

  • Soft surfaces such as sofas, carpets, rugs  and your dogs bedding may trap odours. Sprinkle some  baking soda on the sofa or carpet and leave overnight before vacuuming in the morning. You can add a little baking soda or white vinegar with your laundry power when you wash your dogs bedding.
  • Remember - WET DOGS SMELL! So dry thoroughly after swimming or bathing. Many dogs will tolerate a hairdryer on a low setting.


















































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