Walking into your room only to take in a whiff of a strong and pungent odor isn’t the ideal way to come home from work. When your dog smells like dead fish, it’s best to get rid of this smell as soon as possible to ensure that your home won’t retain that smell long after it’s gone. In this guide, we share how to get rid of a fishy smell from your dog and outline the possible causes.
Most Common Reasons Behind a Dog’s Fishy Smell
There are various reasons why your furry friend has a strong fishy smell, so let’s explore them below.
Anal Sac Disease
Your dog’s anal sacs are small and specialized sweat glands located on each side of your dog’s behind. These small sacs produce anal gland secretions that will often have an unpleasant odor and are often associated with a fish smell. A dog’s anal glands will have a distinct smell which also acts as a scent marker and is released whenever your dog poops.
This is the reason why dogs are always so interested in every other dog’s stool because sniffing them will often provide chemical information. A strong fishy odor will often be attributed to anal sac disease, which is typically rare in large dogs but will be common in obese dogs and small dog breeds. When female dogs have a bad smell, this could be the reason behind it.
There are different causes behind anal sac issues, which are outlined here.
- Impactions: Anal gland issues like this happen when your dog’s sac contents aren’t fully expelled due to loose stools or obesity, resulting in anal gland problems. This condition is very painful and your dog’s sacs will be hard to the touch.
- Infections and Absences: Anal sac problems can also start when they get infected and become abscessed. They may appear swollen and discolored and when left untreated may lead to ruptured abscesses that can cause more stress, pain, and complications.
- Anal Sac Tumors: While these are uncommon, they are serious conditions that can limit your dog’s anal gland expression or its ability to empty the anal glands. These can also become cancerous and may spread to other parts of the body.
Poor Oral Hygiene
Fishy dog breath may be the result of bad oral hygiene — if your dog’s breath smells, it can be an indicator that your dog needs teeth cleaning. Dental problems like periodontal disease can often cause bad breath, where the smell may be transferred around the home through licking and toys.
Urinary Tract Infection
One cause of the fishy smell could be an internal infection in female dogs. Alternatively, a UTI or a yeast infection in any pup could be causing a dog’s fishy odor. If your dog has fishy-smelling urine, be sure to contact your vet as soon as possible to create a treatment plan.
Dog’s Diet is Bad
Pet parents need to be aware of what they feed their dogs — some dog foods use fish as an ingredient, so changing their diet may be able to eliminate the foul odor. Moreover, a fishy breath could be due to health issues so it’s vital that you go for a vet visit to check if your pup needs medical attention and to figure out treatment options.
Near Something Stinky
Maybe your dog rolls near a dead animal on a regular basis — dogs will often find animal carcasses in the backyard or during walks where their fur might pick up the foul smell. If your pup has recently been through locations where there could be dead animals, they could take home a strong odor.
Home Remedies for When Your Dog Smell Like Fish
Below are a few practical ways for dog parents to remove pet odors from their dog’s body.
1. Bathing in Baking Soda
This is the best way for dog owners to rid their pets of bad odor. A good bath involves adding baking soda to the water which can remove a smelly fluid and other kinds of substances from your pooch’s nails and fur. Ensure that water stays out of your canine friend’s ears while you bathe them and that you brush their fur to prevent matting.
2. Change their Diet
If your pup is currently on a diet that contains high fish content, this could be the reason behind the fishy-smelling breath. Switching over to high-fiber food can help to eliminate the fishy smells from your dog’s mouth since the smell can bind onto the fiber and help to remove them from your dog’s fur. There are plenty of sources for high-fiber foods, many of which come in a taste that dogs will love.
Probiotics can also be added to your canine pal’s diet, which is equally as delicious and can help to maintain gut health. These serve to improve a dog’s well-being and overall health while helping to reduce the gases inside. However, pet owners must switch their dog food over to something new nice, and slowly — doing otherwise will lead to stomach issues and a decline in their health condition.
3. Improve Dental Hygiene
Dental issues could be the underlying cause of a fishy smell, so be sure to contact your veterinarian before any tooth decay takes place. A fishy smell could be the result of having food stuck in between your dog’s teeth, or it could be caused by a dental disease that you may have overlooked. If you don’t already have it, make sure to provide your pet with dental care, and have a vet perform professional teeth cleaning for your fur baby.
You may also brush your dog’s teeth but it’s important to be consistent and that you give them regular brushing. Look for dog-safe toothpaste and toothbrushes to brush their teeth as you would on your own, or you can also use dental chews to take care of their oral health. Depending on your dog’s temperament, it might be hard to give your pup a good brush, so schedule a visit to your vet when needed.
If you already provide your pet with good dental hygiene and a regular brushing routine but the smell persists, then the cause could be much more serious or the problem may not be related to their mouth.
4. Unblock Anal Glands
This is the most likely reason behind your dog smelling like fish — if your dog’s butt smells, then it’s possibly because their anal glands are obstructed. When these glands are blocked, they will produce a foul smell as a result of bacterial overgrowth instead of being able to secrete their body oils and sweat. Signs that your pup has blocked anal glands include excessive licking around that area, a strong fishy smell, and a lot of scooting around while seated.
This condition can be uncomfortable for your beloved pet and may require pain medication. You can try to unblock these glands yourself through proper anal gland expression or you can take them to the vet or a professional groomer. If you’re unsure of how to fix this problem, head straight to your vet — the frequency at which you need to have this procedure done will depend on your dog’s breed and the severity of the problem.
5. Treating UTI Infections
Medical conditions such as a UTI infection could be the cause of a bad odor from your dog’s bum and will require treatment using antibiotics. UTI infections can cause pain and discomfort in dogs, where symptoms will usually manifest in the form of bloody urine, foul smell, and pain while urinating. If you suspect that your dog has a UTI infection, be sure to bring them to your veterinarian immediately.
6. Use Medicated Dog Shampoo
Using medicated shampoo may be able to eliminate strong smells and can be purchased from your vet. These are used for serious odor problems that aren’t caused by other health issues — your veterinarian should be able to help you diagnose the problem and confirm that dog shampoo will be the solution to your dog’s foul smell. It’s imperative that you follow the instructions that come with the shampoo to ensure that you don’t over-bathe your pooch since this can lead to skin infection and other issues.
Treat the Fishy Smell from Your Dog with these Remedies
When your dog smells like dead fish, it can be a stressful situation for all, so the moment that you notice an odor, the first thing to do is to get rid of it. While the cause behind it could be as simple as rolling over a dead animal, it can also signal a more serious health problem that should be checked by a vet right away. But whether it has a quick solution or needs a carefully planned treatment, it’s best to get rid of such smells from your home right away which will improve your family and your dog’s quality of life.