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5 Reasons Why Your Dog Smells So Bad and What to Do About It

New Pet Owners  •   John Devlin  •   Sep 13, 2017

There isn't a perfume company out there who have invested in "Eau de Dog" and with good reason. Most of our pooches have a tendency to be malodorous from time-to-time, whether it's their "Frito feet," bad breath, or the unmistakable whiff when they come in after a walk in the rain or have rolled in something they find delectable, but makes our eyes water.

However, while most odors have a simple solution, some can be caused by more serious underlying problems. Let's take a look, at why your four-legged friend smells so bad and what you can do about it.

Dental Problems

The number one cause of bad breath in dogs, just like people, is the build-up of plaque and tartar on their teeth. Some small breeds are especially prone to dental problems like gum disease. Another problem specific to certain breeds is Gingival Hyperplasia, the overgrowth of the gums that can harbor small bits of food and produce a rotten smell. Keeping your dog's teeth clean at home is the first step in solving this problem, but ultimately your pet may need a dental cleaning from a veterinary professional. If you have wellness coverage with AKC Pet Insurance, you could reimbursed for some of the costs of a professional dental cleaning!


Flatulence is a common problem in dogs and if yours can clear the room after passing gas, it is often an intolerance to an ingredient in their food. Working with your veterinarian to change to a different diet, whether that be grain-free or fish-based, can often help the problem. However excessive wind can sometimes signal an underlying medical issue so if the air around your pet remains whiffy, continue to consult your veterinarian until the problem is resolved.


Seasonal or food allergies can cause inflammation of the skin which leads to excessive secretion of oil from certain glands in the skin, producing a musty smell. Poor diet can contribute to this condition and can also be the cause of other problems including yeast infections, which also give off a foul odor. These are often caused by a diet high in carbohydrates and processed foods. Changing to a high-protein, non-processed dog food or trying out allergy tablets for dogs can often help with this.

Ear Infections  

There are many types of bacteria and yeast that can cause ear infections. A healthy ear usually has good defences to fight off the bacteria but if the dog suffers from allergies or hormonal imbalances, the yeast and bacteria can increase dramatically, causing a malodorous smell. Dogs with hairy or floppy ears such as Basset Hounds and Springer Spaniels may have consistent ear problems unless the ears are kept clean and dry.

Anal Sacs

This is one of the most common causes of stinky dogs. All our canine companions have two small scent sacs on their bottom they are a type of marking gland which is why dogs smell rear ends when meeting. If they become impacted, it can cause pain for the dog and an extremely smelly secretion is released and remains on the fur. Another sign your dog has problems with his anal glands is dragging his bottom on the ground, or “scooting.” Make an appointment with your veterinarian to help with this issue.

What to do about it:

  • Start dental hygiene early to prevent problems. This can include annual dental cleanings, brushing your dog’s teeth at home and even certain dog chews can help reduce dental buildup.
  • Keep folds in the skin and ears clean and dry. Check your dog’s ears periodically and be sure to dry them after swims or baths.
  • Feed a healthy diet. If you suspect your dog’s diet might be the culprit, try a diet with different ingredients. Consult your veterinarian for recommendations.  
  • Bathe your dog regularly! An obvious, yet often neglected solution!  

If the stink persists, consult your veterinarian as some medical conditions can produce strange odors. Breath that smells fruity or sweet could indicate diabetes while kidney disease or bladder infection can result in breath that smells like urine. Enrolling in pet insurance in place before a situation arises can help to reduce the costs associated with dignosing and treating the underlying causes of a stinky dog. Good luck and happy sniffing!

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