Why Does My Dog Smell Like Fish?
Many dogs are naturally very playful animals, and they love nothing more than to roll around on the ground regardless of whether it’s indoors or outdoors, clean or dirty. They smell of whatever they rolled around in will stick to them and can only be removed with a thorough bath. Aside from external smells, a lot can be going on inside your dog, which might be making them smell funny. Some of these odors can be natural and harmless, while others may be signs of serious issues. When you notice your dog reeks of fish, it might not be because it had been playing with fish. If you’ve ever asked yourself ‘Why does my dog smell of fish?’ then this article is for you. The fishy smell can be attributed to a few reasons discussed below.
Why the Fishy Smell?
There are some general natural factors like sex, breed, age, and body type that can influence how dogs smell. For example, dogs who produce more oils on their coat tend to smell more than those with less oil. Also, dogs with more folds gather skin cells and yeast that can cause them to emit different smells. The odor is a result of bacteria breaking down these oils produced by the glands. These causes of smell are not necessarily harmful and can easily be remedied or controlled. A fishy smell might be a more severe issue, and here are some ways your dog can smell fishy and why.
- Fishy Dog Breath
The most common reason why your dog’s breath smells like fish will be the ingredients of the dog’s diet. If they have a lot of salmon or whitefish, then expect it to reflect in their breath. Your dog might also transfer the fishy odor from one part of their body into their mouth when they lick the area. This type of smell is supposed to leave after a few hours, though, and if it does not, something else might be going on. Dogs have a lot of bacteria teeming their mouths, and sometimes there is a build-up that can cause a foul smell. The odor is usually fishy and is due to a plaque that develops when the bacteria is overabundant. If your dog’s oral health is not taken care of, they will experience gingivitis, periodontal disease, and halitosis as consequences. A fishy breath might also be a sign of an underlying condition affecting the internal organs of your dog. For example, kidney and liver failure, as well as diabetes, is known to cause bad breath in dogs, specifically a fishy odor.
- Anal Gland Issues
Anal glands also called anal sacs and are the little sacs that can be found on each side of your dog’s anus. These sacs carry sweat glands that produce fluids that your dog uses as scent markers. The secretions which are foul-smelling are passed into feces and can tell other dogs a lot about your dog’s chemical state. This is why dogs smell each other’s backsides during a greeting. Some dogs release these secretions when they are scared or stressed, which is completely normal. On other occasions, an expression of these oils can become abnormal when your dog is affected by anal sac disease. This is where the dog secretes an unusual amount of the substance involuntarily, causing them to smell like fish. Also, the glands can get infected and, if not treated urgently, rapture through the skin, producing the fishy smell as well. It is usually characterized by soft stool, and the area might be discolored or swollen. Sometimes, the dog is not able to express the glands naturally, and they become full. You might also notice your dog dragging its butt across the floor, trying to scratch the itch that comes with it.
- Fishy Urine
A dog’s urine should smell like that of humans even though their diets are different. Any time you notice a scent different or worse than that, there might be an issue. A strong fishy smell from your dog’s urine might indicate the presence of a urinary tract infection, which is caused by bacteria. In female dogs, there are healthy bacteria that live in the vagina, but a fishy odor means it has been compromised. It might be an indicator of an infection called vaginitis, which is also characterized by a light-colored discharge. This discharge can cause your dog to smell like fish and not in a subtle way. A severe form of this infection is pyometra, which is also characterized by a white-yellowish discharge with an equally foul smell.
How to Rid Your Dog of Fishy Smell
If your dog’s fishy odor is from their coat, skin or other natural external factors then giving them regular baths should take care of the problem. Make sure to use dog-friendly shampoo that will not strip your dog’s covering of its natural oils and worsen the problem. For bad breath, make sure to brush your dog’s teeth regularly using enzymic toothpaste to control the issue. You can also use natural alternatives like chew toys to scrape the teeth of plaque and tartar. You can introduce minty chews once in a while to keep their breath fresh and smelling good. If you try the natural remedies and they do not work then it might be time to visit the vet. Animal care professionals will be able to diagnose and treat the problem as well as give you ways to maintain the health status of your dog. They will also be able to recommend products and diets that will work best for your dog to keep them from smelling like fish.
There is no cause to panic when your dog smells like fish, however, you should take it seriously. Even though there can be natural scents, it becomes worrying when they emit fishy odors when there is no fish in sight. Because dogs cannot speak, you should pay attention to the smell as an indicator of what might be going on internally. Take the dog to a vet if it gets out of hand, and the simple remedies did not produce positive results.