Why does my dog stink?
The dog’s natural smell comes from the secretion of sebum by the skin (and in particular by the sebaceous glands located at the base of the coat). This greasy substance forms a natural protective layer on the dog’s skin and coat. It insulates it from moisture, prevents the skin from drying out and keeps it supple. Sebum is not odourless and the more time passes the more it is produced and accumulates in the dog’s coat creating its natural body odour. This smell is increased when the dog is wet (and dries out in the open air!).
The dog’s smell may seem normal, but sometimes odor problems have another origin. It is then necessary to take the dog to the veterinarian to find the cause and solve these odor problems.
Here are a few causes of dog odour problems:
- Otitis problems very often generate an unpleasant and invasive odour in the dog. If you smell a strong odour, you can look in your dog’s ears. If they are red, full of earwax, with thickened and hyperpigmented skin (a black coloration appears), he has an ear infection. A dog that scratches or shakes his ears too often surely has an ear infection that needs to be treated.
- Allergies. Dogs with allergies or atopic dermatitis often suffer from inflammation and bacterial and fungal (by fungi) infections of the skin. An allergic dog is often a smelly dog.
- The presence of external parasites, such as dog scabies or fleas, creates skin lesions that can make the skin smell bad.
- Excess sebum (also called seborrhea)
- halitosis (dog with bad breath) may be a sign of oral conditions such as gingivitis or periodontal disease with damage to the jaw bone
- Flatulence, whether or not related to a digestive problem
- The presence of an abscess, which is a pocket of pus under the skin, or a fistula, which is a path of pus under the skin. Pus usually generates a bad smell. For example, unspayed bitches with a pyometrium (infection of the uterus) will smell bad when the pus drains from the vulva. They will have to be taken quickly to a veterinarian.
- Wounds that do not heal well and become infected may also give off a very bad smell.
Smelly dog: what to do?
Check from the nose to the tip of the tail if you can’t find the source of the smell. If you find redness in the gums, ears or skin, if he has digestive problems or is slaughtered, take him to the vet so that he can look for the origin of these symptoms and treat your dog.
In all cases it is necessary to know that the notion of smell is relative. Each individual has his own smell and each person has a different sensitivity to the smell of his dog. A dog that smells bad does not necessarily have a health or hygiene problem, it can be his natural body odor. In these cases when you are embarrassed you may want to offer him a shampoo. Normally a dog is washed at most once a month.
How do you wash a dog that smells?
First of all, use dog products. Never use human shampoo or cosmetics without the advice of your veterinarian. The dog’s skin and that of humans do not have the same pH you would damage his skin and may aggravate his skin problem if he has one. If your dog has sensitivities such as allergies, bacterial and yeast infections or seborrhea, use appropriate veterinary shampoos. These shampoos may contain antiseptics or antifungals. These shampoos will be prescribed during the consultation by your regular veterinarian or a veterinarian specialized in dermatology (a dog dermatologist).
Remember to regularly clean the sleeping areas (bed, blanket, cushions) to remove the smell. It is all the more important to wash them well if they smell bad because of the presence of parasites.