We share our homes with them, including our beds and couches, so it’s okay to want your pup to smell as fresh as possible. You bathe her regularly and make sure to wash her favorite blankets and beds, but still, some dogs keep on stinking. If you have to hold your breath or crinkle your nose every time you lean in close, you have a problem. Unless your dog recently rolled in something unsavory, is overdue for a bath, or was sprayed by a skunk, she shouldn’t be stinking up your house. If she is, it’s time to think beyond bath time to figure out exactly what’s going on. Here are a few common reasons why dogs stink, and more importantly, we’re going to tell you what you can do to stop the stench.
- Dental Problems
You shouldn’t expect your pup to have minty fresh breath, but her heavy panting shouldn’t send you running for fresh air. One of the biggest causes of chronic bad breath in dogs is rotting teeth. Dogs need their teeth brushed just like their humans. Plaque turns to tartar, and eventually, all that bacteria starts to rot a dog’s teeth. When that happens, bad breath is actually the least of your dog’s concerns. She’s probably in pain and most likely needs that tooth (or teeth) taken out.
Other possible causes of bad breath include kidney disease and diabetes. According Dr. Ann Hohenhause from Animal Medical Center in New York City, dogs with kidney failure often have breath that smells like urine. Diabetes can produce a smell some associate with nail polish remover.
What to do: Start brushing your dog’s teeth on a regular basis. Most veterinarians say in an ideal world, dogs would have their teeth brushed every day. That isn’t always realistic, so once a week is a good start. If the smell doesn’t get better or you suspect serious dental problems, visit the vet.
- Ear Infections
Whether they’re long and floppy or tall and pointy, your dog’s ears can potentially get infected. When that happens, a buildup of yeast and bacteria creates a fetid smell. Dogs with allergies or hormonal imbalances are more likely to develop ear infections than those that don’t, and dogs with floppy ears that trap moisture are also more at risk. Pinpointing the problem should be easy. Lift up your dog’s ears and take a whiff. If it’s an infection causing the stink, the ears will be the obvious source. Remember, it might only be one ear that’s infected, not both.
What to do: If you’ve determined your dog does indeed have an ear infection, take her to the vet. Curing ear infections is relatively simple, and it should only be a few days before the smell goes away. To avoid future infections, remember to clean your dog’s ears regularly and try to keep them dry.
- Skin Issues
Dogs with sensitive skin can end up being stinkier than they should be because of infections and bacteria. Those adorable dogs with lots of wrinkles are especially likely to develop smelly skin conditions. Dirt and germs get stuck in the folds of their skin and cause something called dermatitis. This chronic skin condition is both itchy and smelly. If you have a Pug, Pekingese, Bulldog, or another breed known for their wrinkly skin, you need to be extra concerned about keeping them clean.
What to do: Make sure your dog, regardless of breed, is bathed about once a month. Make sure to get soap and water in every wrinkle. For dogs with skin folds, use dog wipes in between baths.
Sometimes it’s not your dog that stinks, it’s the air that comes out of her. Extreme gas can send you sprinting from the room. There’s nothing you can do about an occasional bout of flatulence, but your dog shouldn’t be having major gas attacks all day long. If she is, it’s probably caused by something in her diet or a digestive problem.
What to do: After you’ve sprayed down your house with a full can of air freshener, consider your dog’s diet. She might be allergic to something you’re feeding her, or maybe she helped herself to garbage or something even less appealing to the human appetite—like a dead animal carcass. If allergies don’t seem likely, try adding probiotics and prebiotics to your dog’s diet to give her digestive system extra support. If the gas turns into a long-term problem, visit your vet.
- Impacted Anal Glands
You should know by now that pup parenting means dealing with the dirty and the gross. Sometimes you have to put on your rubber gloves and deal with the ick, and talking about your dog’s anal glands is a prime example. All dogs have anal glands located on either side of the anus. They’re little pouches that fill up with an oily, sticky substance that’s used to lubricate stool to make going to the bathroom easier. Normally, the glands secrete the substance as your dog poops, and all is well. But for some dogs, those glands become blocked, impacted, or infected. It’s uncomfortable, and even painful, for the dog, and it also smells.
What to do: Before you Google DIY methods of expressing your dog’s anal glands, visit your vet. It’s always best to have a professional handle the situation. If you do it wrong, you could cause your dog even more pain, and if you neglect to do it all, the glands could rupture. You can also talk to your vet about how diet can sometimes prevent the problem from happening again. Read about how to tell if your dog’s anal glands need expressed here.