No one expects a dog to smell good (unless you’re a big fan of the aroma of corn chips). But sometimes, they can really stink. And no, we’re not talking about a little post-cheese flatulence, or the odor that results from their dip in ditch water: We mean an unpleasant smell that lets you know something is off.
If you’ve tried your usual de-stinking strategies and your dog still smells bad, it could be any number of different issues. Here’s what to know.
Why does my dog smell bad?
An unpleasant odor emanating from your pup probably means something’s up—but it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s serious.
Common reasons your dog smells bad
According to Sara Ochoa, DVM, veterinarian at Whitehouse Veterinary Hospital in Whitehouse, Texas and SeniorTailWaggers.com, some of the most common reasons your dog smells less-than-ideal include:
“Many times, cleaning your dog ears with an enzyme-based ear cleaner can help break up waxy debris in your dog’s ears,” Ochoa tells Lifehacker.
- Dental disease
“If your dog has mild dental disease, giving them things like dental treats or brushing their teeth at home can help decrease tartar build up,” she explains.
- Yeast or bacterial infection on their skin
“For mild skin infections, usually an oatmeal bath will help clear these issues,” Ochoa says.
- Anal gland issues
“If your dog has anal gland issues, you or your groomer can express these glands,” she adds.
Underlying health conditions
Sometimes the stench can be a sign that your dog has an underlying health issue. According to Ochoa, some of these include:
- Severe ear infections
“If your dog has an ear infection where there is smelly discharge or pus coming from their ears, it would be best to see your vet for prescription medications,” Ochoa says.
- Urinary tract infections
“Some dogs will have urinary tract infections causing them to smell,” she explains. “This smell can go away with a bath, but usually comes right back in a few hours.”
- Severe dental disease
“If your dog’s teeth are very bad, their mouth and breath can smell really bad,” Ochoa says. “If, no matter what you try at home, your dog’s breath smells bad, they most likely need a dental cleaning done at your vet’s office.”
When to see your vet
If your dog smells off, Ochoa says to keep an eye out for these other signs that something more severe is going on with your dog:
- Not eating or drinking
- Weight loss
“Most dogs will start to smell good again after a bath,” Ochoa explains. “If your dog still smells bad after their bath, it would be best to see your vet. They can help find the source of infection and start your dog on the appropriate medication to treat the issues and help stop the smell.”