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What Makes My Dog Smell So Bad?

Updated April 17, 2017

A bad-smelling dog is an unpleasant experience for its owner. The causes of a bad smell can be environmental, or they can signal an underlying health problem. If your dog has a strong odour and the reason behind it is not obvious, get advice from your vet.

Identification

As a dog owner, you probably already are familiar with the more normal "doggy" smell, especially when a dog's hair is damp. But healthy dogs should not give off a strong or disagreeable odour and should not smell bad constantly. Your dog should not be unpleasant to be around because of its smell.

Significance

Although bad odours can be caused by environmental factors such as foreign objects trapped in the fur or food stuck in the mouth, they can also be a symptom of a different problem, such as infections or parasites. Do not ignore strong smells coming from your dog or pass them off as normal. Most non-obvious causes of dog odours are easily treatable but will require veterinary attention.

Causes

Check first for obvious sources of the bad smell. Dogs love to find and roll in all manner of things. When they do, faeces and other material can stick to their fur, causing a bad odour. Dogs who eat too quickly or who eat a poor diet may experience excessive flatulence. Other causes of bad-smelling canines include parasites, as well as infections or disorders of the mouth, ears, digestive system and anal glands.

Prevention/Solution

Regularly bathing and grooming your dog, especially if it is longhair or enjoys swimming, will help keep its fur clean and will keep odour-producing bacteria from collecting on the dog's skin. Ensure that your dog has good oral hygiene, and use a flashlight to check its mouth and ears regularly for foreign bodies or signs of infection.

Warning

Ear mites are one of the parasites that can cause a dog to stink. Although these don't usually affect humans in the same way as they affect dogs or cats, they can cause an allergic reaction in people with dust mite allergies. If you or someone in your household has these allergies, make sure to establish the cause of your dog's ear infection and treat it as quickly as possible.

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