Why does my dog smell so bad? What to do when your dog stinks

If you have found that your dog majorly stinks, it's time to start looking for the causes. Why does your dog smell so bad, should you be worried, and what should you do?

It's important to make sense of why your dog stinks!
It's important to make sense of why your dog stinks!  © Josef Reckziegel / Unsplash

That typical dog smell might put some people off, but to others, it smells heavenly. Sometimes, though, that dog smell dissipates into a stench worthy of Oscar the Grouch. What on Earth has caused your beloved doggo to smell so bad? Is there anything you can do?

In this dog guide, TAG24 dives into why dogs stink, and how you can keep your dog from smelling in the future. Is it just in need of a bath, or is something seriously wrong?

Why does my dog stink?

There are many potential reasons why your dog may smell bad. From sickness and simple food-related bad-breath, to a misplaced river swim or an age-related mustiness, dogs can get pretty putrid if you let them.

What are some of the more common causes of a malodorous pup? Let's take a look...

Is my smelly dog sick?

It is very possible that a dog that has quickly gone from pleasant to putrid, and hasn't got all dirtied up, may have developed some kind of medical condition. There are various triggers that can cause this bad smell as a result of illness, including poor coat care, dead skin, and germs in the fur.

Not all bad smells come from a dog's fur, though, with many smells coming from a dog's mouth, behind, and other areas. If your dog starts stinking from one of these areas, it could have contracted some kind of internal disease. In other words, it could be more than just fleas.

Here are a few diseases that can cause a dog to stink:

  • Diabetes
  • Inflammation in the anal area
  • Renal insufficiency
  • Dental diseases
  • Metabolic diseases
  • Ulcers
  • Cancer
  • Allergic reactions
  • Internal fungus
  • Inflammation in general

As a result of this variety of potential medical causes, an extremely stinky dog should be taken to the vet as soon as possible. They will be able to let you know if there's any cause for concern.

Why does my dog's breath smell so bad? Wrong food?

If your dog's breath is what's smelling so bad, it could be a food-related problem. Of course, the health problems above need to be ruled out first, but it could be something dental or even diet-related. If a nasty smell comes out of their oral cavity, there could be inflammation of the gums, for example.

The "wrong" food can also cause your dog to stink, either because their intestines have trouble breaking it down and digesting it, or because the dog is intolerant or allergic. Both of these reasons can cause both bad breath and flatulence – the latter of which can also give your doggo abdominal pain.

It's a good idea to still take your dog to the veterinarian, though, as they can rule out particular allergies and design a selective diet to be modified and improved to maximize your dog's health and reduce its smell.

Dogs can also stink from the ear due to things such as an ear mite infestation.
Dogs can also stink from the ear due to things such as an ear mite infestation.  © 123RF/supergranto

Dog ear stinks

If a nasty smell is coming from your dog's ears, there could be a serious issue that needs to be checked out by a veterinarian. For example, your dog's ear could stink due to an infection or even a mite infestation.

How do you deal with a stinky dog ear?

  • There are a variety of different sprays, ointments, and tablets that can be prescribed to treat ear mites.
  • If their ear is stinky because it's inflamed, the cause of this inflammation must be determined by a vet.

Just so you know: Ear infections and inflammation can be caused by a variety of different diseases, by injury, or by infection with a foreign body (bacteria, viruses, etc.).

Why does my dog's fart and poop smell so bad?

A dog's farting habits are often very similar to a human's, and just as stinky. Diet and food are the single most important reason why a dog's poop might be unpleasantly smelly. While it's important for a dog to fart, as it relieves them from built-up internal gas, that doesn't mean it's always OK that they're releasing such noxious gases.

What will cause stinky dog farts?

  • Your dog is eating too much.
  • Your dog is eating too fast.
  • A change in diet could cause a shift in your dog's gut biome.
  • Their diet might include foods that are off, or difficult to digest.
  • Your dog may be allergic to something.

A change of diet can be extremely effective in reducing canine flatulence. If that doesn't work, though, head on over to your vet!

My dog stinks and scratches all the time - is it dirty?

Dogs can get pretty filthy sometimes, and that can cause them to stink.
Dogs can get pretty filthy sometimes, and that can cause them to stink.  © Benjamin Lehman / Unsplash

This next reason is the obvious one: Your dog can become very stinky if it gets dirty and isn't bathed. Now, that isn't always your fault. Doggos do daring yet disastrous things sometimes, getting unbelievably dirty, wet, and covered in mud in the blink of an eye.What's famous for being a rather disgusting smell? That of a wet dog.

If you go for a walk and your dog decides it's going to go for a splash, you'll have to put up with the smell until you get home. What you should do then is give your dog a long and thorough bath. Feel free to use this as an opportunity to use products (approved by your vet) to improve and protect your dog's skin.

Why does my old dog smell so bad?

Many old dogs will smell bad due to increased digestive problems and a change in metabolism. Because this is natural, it's not something that can necessarily be fixed, though you can always check with your vet to be sure. Older dogs commonly have problems with their livers, kidneys, and skin pores, adding to the issue.

How to make dogs smell better when they stink

When searching for the best way to make your dog smell better, you must seek out a solution based on the cause of the stench itself. Of course, there are various home remedies to keep a dog from smelling, but they are only worth your while if you take action based on solid reasoning.

Here's how to stop a dog from smelling bad:

  • Keep your dog well-groomed: This can easily be done by making sure your dog is brushed regularly, gets regular haircuts, and receives other regular coat care treatment.
  • Make sure to get rid of shedding dog hair: Make sure that the hair your dog sheds is cleaned up thoroughly and not allowed to simply cling to your dog's furniture and possessions.
  • Bathe your dog regularly: Make sure to give your dog a bath as frequently as possible, especially after walks and when they get dirty.
  • Adjust diets: If you think that your dog's smell problem is linked to its diet or digestive system, try switching up their diets (after consulting your veterinarian).
  • Get health concerns checked: If you are fearful something may be wrong, seek out professional care and get in touch with your vet.
  • Improve your dog's dental care: Go to the dog dentist and have their mouth checked out for potential sources of stench.
  • Make sure your dog is drinking a lot: Dogs sometimes won't drink water, and this can have a negative effect on their breath.

Remember that dogs will often stink: Some dogs are just a little bit smelly. Only get concerned if they get particularly stinky, particularly quickly, and particularly unusually. Otherwise, it's probably just body odor, let's be real.

All dogs will smell bad if they get wet, so make sure to dry them quickly after being in the rain or swimming.
All dogs will smell bad if they get wet, so make sure to dry them quickly after being in the rain or swimming.  © Philippe Oursel / Unsplash

What are the smelliest dog breeds?

Different dog breeds have different characteristics. One of these factors, of course, is their habit of producing a smell, and some are worse than others. Dog breeds that feature thicker coats, for example, often smell worse.

Here are a few particularly smelly dog breeds:

  • Beagles
  • Boxers
  • Bulldogs
  • Cocker Spaniel
  • Golden Retrievers
  • Pugs

Just so you know: There are also a few dogs that are slightly less odorous. They include Dalmatians, Poodles, Terriers, and Bichon Frisés.

If your dog stinks, you can do something about it!

There are many reasons why a dog might start to stink beyond the ones covered in this article. When this eventually happens, and it surely will, it is essential to make sure that you not only wash your doggo, but all of its toys, blankets, and sleeping spots.

If you treat the cause, you'll likely be successful at improving your dog's bad smell. If you have any troubles or concerns, take your doggo to the veterinarian and have your canine companion checked out to be safe.

Cover photo: Josef Reckziegel / Unsplash

More on Dog Guide: