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My Dog Smells Bad: Tips Against Unpleasant Smells in Four-Legged Friends

06.01.2024 - Reading time: 4 minutes

Ein Hund schaut traurig um die Ecke

Dogs don't usually smell like they've just come out of the shower. As a dog owner, you will know this better than anyone else. Our faithful companions smell a little stronger when they are wet - just that familiar wet dog smell. But sometimes dogs really do smell bad. There are many possible reasons for this. Find out here what they are and what you can do if your dog smells.


Why does a dog smell like a dog?

Just like humans, every dog has its very own distinct smell. The body’s own scents are extremely important for our four-legged friends: for example, they use them to recognise whether another dog is male or female. Scents are excreted via faeces, urine and, of course, the animal’s body glands in the form of sebum (fat). They then settle in the dog’s coat. When the coat is dry, the scents are not as noticeable. When it is wet, however, you will notice something: the dog suddenly starts to smell. If the moisture evaporates and rises into the air as a gas, the scents will follow suit. Only then will people begin to notice that typical wet dog smell.

The characteristic dog odour is completely normal and usually „disappears“ when the coat is dry again.

Tip:: Rub your dog’s coat dry with a towel after a bath or rain. Then your dog will no longer smell quite so much „like a dog“.

My dog's coat smells - what are the possible causes of this?

If your four-legged friend has an unpleasant odour even when his coat is dry, there can be various reasons for this. If you think your dog is extremely smelly, the following causes can be considered:

  • Your dog has rolled around in the dirt: Excrement, manure, carrion – all the smells that humans find unbearable attract dogs like magic. A good bath will fix all this quickly. But be careful: after a bath, many animals can’t wait to roll around in the dirt again!
  • Dead skin flakes, hair, dirt and bacteria may have settled in the coat: If the coat is not brushed regularly, it will start to smell, especially in long-haired dogs. If your dog smells and scratches, you should take a closer look at the skin. Meticulous coat care will protect your dog from unpleasant odours.
  • Skin diseases: Allergic reactions, parasites or inflammation of the skin can lead to strong odours. Look for symptoms of these types of diseases in your dog and consult a vet.
  • Inflammation of the anal sac: If your dog starts licking his anus more often and/or „sleds“, the stench may be be a sign of inflammation of the anal sac. You should have this checked by a vet.

Tip: Too frequent bathing and especially shampooing of the coat can damage the natural protective layer of your dog’s skin. Therefore, you should bathe or shower your four-legged friend as seldom as possible and only when necessary.

My dog’s breath smells of putrefaction - what can I do about it?

Every dog is plagued with some bad breath, especially after eating. If your dog’s mouth smells, check your pet’s teeth. There are many possible reasons for bad breath in dogs:

  • food residues stuck between the teeth or in the jowls
  • tooth infections
  • dental tartar
  • other serious diseases

If the problem lasts longer than two weeks, it is advisable to consult a vet.

Dogs can also smell from their ears. One reason could be an ear mite infestation, which can cause the ear to secrete a dark, dry secretion with a very unpleasant smell. In this case, too, you must consult a vet.

Tip: Regular dental care can prevent bad breath. Strong and persistent odours in dogs can be a sign of various diseases. In such cases, you should take your dog to the vet.


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