Why Does My Dog Smell So Bad?

  • By:

    Dr. Edele Grey
    Dr. Edele Grey

    Author: Dr. Edele Grey

    Dr. Edele Grey is a veterinary surgeon with seven years of experience. She professionally works mostly with horses but has treated pets of all sizes including terrapins, llamas, and others. Dr. Grey graduated with honors from the University College Dublin, Ireland, has completed further education in Equine Sports Medicine. In her free time, she enjoys writing about pet ownership and educating people about veterinary care of animals and preventing disease.

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  • Updated on: 11/24/2020

On occasion, we’ve all noticed an unpleasant smell from our furry friend and many reasons could cause this. Some smells persist even after bathing your pup.

why does my dog smell so badImage by @angel1238812 from Pixabay

Causes of Unpleasant Odors in Dogs

No pooch will ever win an award for smelling like roses, but if your pup really starts to stink, that can cause concern, so here’s a rundown of some possible reasons for this.

Skin Diseases

Such as dermatitis and yeast infections can cause your dog to smell unpleasant. Dogs that suffer from allergies can cause a skin condition called atopy. This disease causes dry skin, inflammation, and scabs, making the skin prone to infection, causing nasty smells.

Impacted anal glands

Can cause a fishy smell that persists despite bathing. These glands are just inside your pup’s rectum and release an oily liquid that coat’s your pet’s poop. If the liquid becomes thick and the glands blocked or infected then your pup will leave a smelly patch everywhere they sleep. If this occurs and the smell persists then you should have your vet examine your pooch.


Is just a part of life, but excessive tummy rumblings, burping, or stinky gas could be an indication of problems such as food allergies or inflammatory bowel diseases. The occasional bout may be related to a dietary indiscretion such as eating some human food or something that wasn’t easy to digest.

Bad Breath or Halitosis

It isn’t just ‘‘doggy breath’’ but a proper malodorous mouth. This is due to one of many dental diseases that affect pets. The most common of these is periodontal or gum disease.

Ear infections

These infections are very painful but also produce a strong-smelling discharge. These infections can cause severe and permanent damage to a pet’s ear canal, even leading to deafness without veterinary intervention.


Grooming is a daily task for your pet but some need an extra helping hand from their human with a brush and regular bathing. This is particularly necessary if your fur-baby is aging or suffering from arthritis and isn’t grooming as needed. Some pets are also more prone to oily skin and dander and may need increased bathing and grooming frequency to prevent nasty odors.

There are few pooches that don’t love to roll in something disgusting, be it a muddy puddle or wild animal poop. Anyone whose dog has been “skunked” can also attest to this foul stench which may require a number of vigorous showers to finally eradicate the stink.

Nasty Wounds or Abscesses

It can really smell and produce a stinky purulent discharge. These need to be treated immediately by your veterinarian to prevent sepsis or more serious complications for your pup.

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How to get rid of the Unpleasant Smell of a Dog?

If your pooch is stinking up the house, you now need to figure out if it’s something easily managed with a bath or if you need to seek your veterinarian’s intervention. A good rule of thumb is a regular bathing schedule for your pooch to prevent a stinky coat.

Regular brushing helps to remove dander and dead hair from their coat. Once a week is suitable for most pets, though longer haired breeds may need brushing up to three times per week.

Bathing frequency depends on your pooch’s lifestyle, most need bathing only once per month or so though some may need bathing every two weeks. You should bathe your pet in warm, running water with a suitable shampoo. You can use a deodorizing shampoo or sensitive skin if your pup uses something soothing and hypoallergenic for their comfort.

Smells can also come from your dog’s bedding, regular laundering is essential to minimize this and also to reduce dust, dander, and remove any flea eggs from the environment. A normal wash is suitable, though you may need to occasionally use a more intensive mode to deep clean the bedding.

how to get rid of the unpleasant smell of a dogPhoto by Elise Moody on Unsplash

If your pet permits tooth brushing, then weekly sessions help you to assess the condition of their teeth and gums. Dental disease is the number one cause of bad breath in pets, and prevention is best possible. If your pet won’t permit brushing, you should check their teeth and gums regularly to assess for redness or plaque build-up, or bad breath.

If gas is the source of your pooch’s problem then you may need to consider altering their nutrition. If it’s intermittent or short-lived flatulence then it may be that your pupate something they shouldn’t, but if it persists then you may need to consider changing your pup’s diet. You should consider this in conjunction with your veterinarian as your pup may have a food intolerance or allergy.

If you notice a smell from your pet’s ears, an intermittent fishy odor from your pet’s bedding, or any smell from your pooch that persists then you should contact your veterinarian for an appointment to investigate the underlying cause.

Pet smells throughout the home can be tackled with regular ventilation, vacuuming and linen laundering.


what causes unpleasant odor in dogPhoto by Cynthia Smith on Unsplash

If you notice an extra funky smell coming from your pooch, you should brush and bathe your pup first. Check them over thoroughly for cuts, wounds, or other injuries, check their teeth and ears for the source of the odor too. If your fur-baby rolled around in something particularly disgusting it may take a few rigorous shampoos to rid them of their pungent perfume. If the smell persists, then you should make an appointment with your veterinarian to investigate the underlying cause.

READ MORE: Signs of Poisoning in Dogs

With so many possible causes for a stinky pup, it’s good to understand these to make a plan to tackle and eliminate these odors. Appropriate nutrition, grooming and regular bathing all help to keep nasty smells at bay.

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