My Dog Smells Like…

By Emily Kubick

Hate to break it to you, but yes, the dreaded dog stink is unavoidable. Spending most of my day with dogs has opened me up to a whole new world of odors. There are many causes of a smelly dog, but I have listed some of my favorites (and most relatable) below. Dog smell is natural, but if you notice an increase in grossness and change in strange smells, contact your vet and they can point you in the right direction of treatment.

1. Fritos
Every notice that your dog’s paws smell like a freshly opened bag of Fritos? Yum right? Contrary to the myth, dogs do actually sweat! The areas lacking fur/hair, such as the nose and paws, are common areas of dog sweat. If the smell is mild and the dog is not itching or licking its paws, everything should be normal. Embrace the Fritos smell! Commonly, however, the sweat build up gets trapped in the hair between the paw pads. In order to keep the odor and, more importantly, avoid a buildup of oils that can cause an infection (which I will talk more about below), general maintenance is required. Clipping the fur between the paw pads and making sure it gets a good soak/clean during bath time is an awesome way to avoid oil build up. Personally, I am convinced I would chop a toe off, so I would have a groomer or vet take care of it of the whole clipping thing.

2. B.O.
As I mentioned above, dogs do in fact sweat. While dogs only sweat on areas lacking hair/fur, such as their paws, that does not mean they don’t have sweat glands all over. These sweat glands are associated with the dog’s hair follicles. Researchers believe this is another way for dogs to emit their own personal scent. Whether it is pheromones or “chemical” signals for other dogs, there is no doubt smell plays a huge part in dog-to-dog communication. Just like humans begin to have their own delicious smell after days of not showering, dogs do as well. The key to a clean smelling dog is, you guessed it, regular baths! Not only will regular baths help with the dog’s natural odor, but it will also help with dry skin (dander) that can lead to allergies and irritation.
*Fun fact: There is no such thing as a hypoallergenic dog. Sorry to burst your bubble, but it is actually the flaking dead skin cells (dander) attaching themselves to the hair that causes the irritation. Yes, dogs with hair, shed less, but all that means is that the spread of dander is limited compared to an aggressive fur shedder.*

3. Mustiness
For the lack of a better word, does your dog every smell musty? Do their ears have a strong “musty” odor? Dogs are a host to a ton of natural bacteria and fungus. Their immune system is in charge of keeping these checks and balances. If there is an overproduction of oils or change in the body’s natural skin condition causing an increase in yeast organisms, an infection can occur. Yeast infections typically occur in the paws, ears, and genitals. General maintenance of mild topical yeast infections is pretty simple. Frequent baths with medicated shampoos can make a world of difference, followed by the application of an anti-fungal shampoo is suggested. Look for anti-fungal shampoos that contain chlorhexidine, miconazole, or ketoconazole. If the infection is centralized, just in the ears or paws, your vet can prescribe a topical ointment to be applied daily.

4. Fish
Our last smelly culprit is anal glands! Yay! So what are anal glands? Anal glands are located inside the rectum and are a natural part of your dog’s anatomy. Ideally, these glands are released on their own. As the dog defecates, the stool puts pressure on the glands and a lovely, not cringe worthing (sarcasm), smelly substance leaks out (not gross at all, right?). As humans, our sense of smell is, for a better word, lacking, so we typically cannot detect the smell in the feces, but other dogs sure can. Some researchers believe it is a natural “territorial marker.” Unfortunately, glands commonly get impacted, infected, or are too far back in the rectum. A common sign of full glands is scooting. The dog is trying to express the glands themselves by rubbing their booty all over your nice clean carpet, but this method is not always effective and just leaves you with a skid mark in your living room. Another sign/reason anal glands made it on my list is the smell of rotting fish. In order to avoid this truly unnerving smell, it is suggested you have your dog regularly “expressed”. Thankfully, domesticated dogs have these lovely servants known as humans who are willing to squeeze out this oily fishy substance for them. I recently learned how to express anal glands, and you betcha that is going on my resume. So if you smell fish, it’s time to pop some glands!

Long story short, Dogs smell.
I hope you enjoyed learning about some of the different ways your pooch can violate your nose. But as any dog owner knows, it’s totally worth it!

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