Dealing with a smelly dog

Living with a stinky dog can be one of the most unpleasant of dog problems, especially if the dog has a chronic smelly condition. Some smells (such as rolling in dead fish) can be easily fixed with a good scrubbing with dog shampoo, but other smelly dog problems call for a trip to the vet.

There are three basic places in which a dog may produce smells: the head, the skin and fur, and the rear end.


Dogs may have bad breath, which can be caused by gum disease, digestive system problems, or internal diseases such as cancer or diabetes. Food can become trapped between the teeth and allow yeast infections to develop, or the dog may have decaying teeth that need to be pulled. Another possible cause of bad breath is stool-eating because of nutritional deficiencies.

Some dogs develop watery eyes, which can lead to smelly yeast infections. Others have smelly ears, especially breeds with long, floppy ears, which provide an excellent warm, moist environment for yeast and bacteria. Other smelly ear problems include allergic reactions to common allergens such as dust mites.

For all these smelly head problems, contact your vet, who will identify and treat the underlying condition causing the smell.


Dogs have a natural odour, which is used for identification by other dogs. In wild dogs the natural dog scent is disguised by rolling in something disgusting such as a rotting corpse or excrement so the prey animal does not smell the dogs coming. Unfortunately, our pet dogs are still hard-wired to be wild dogs, and their habit of rolling in smelly things is part of their genetic make-up. Good dog shampoos are available to remedy this, and regular bathing will also remedy another common problem, which is excessive oil in the skin. (Do not use human shampoos as they are too acidic.)

If bathing your dog yourself is not an option, there are many professional dog groomers who will do the job for you.

The skin may also be smelly because of nutritional deficiencies or through skin conditions such as an allergic reaction to mange mites, or to yeast conditions. Any skin condition should be checked by the vet, who may prescribe antibiotics and other drugs to treat the problem. Antibacterial dog shampoos are available that can help, but many skin conditions such as rashes tend to get worse if left untreated.

Dogs pass their own natural (or unnatural) odours to their bedding, so it is important to wash this regularly. A sprinkle

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