Why Has My Dog Started Stinking?

Sitting beside your furry friend on the couch, have you noticed your dog has suddenly started smelling rather peculiar?

Although dogs often smell after a tiring run or playtime, it's unusual for them to start smelling pungent. A dog owner can separate between the usual "Frito chips" stench and something Alien-ish.

If your dog has started stinking for no apparent reason, you should know that it has to do with their failing hygiene or underlying health problems.

dog smelling

The stinking smell is one of the earliest signs of underlying health issues that become common with their growing age.

Your only option is to determine what is troubling your dog by taking them to the veterinarian in Urbandale or by looking for tell-tale symptoms of diseases.

Is My Dog Battling a Serious Health Condition?

The pungent smell is more common in geriatric dogs (old dogs) with age-related diseases and ailments such as bowel disorder, cancer, oral infection, and anal sac problem.

However, it's uncommon for pups and adult canines to start to smell like senior dogs when they haven't been diagnosed with any severe ailments.

Do not start panicking because these health issues are minor in most cases and can be eradicated with sanitation.

Canines like a bulldog, sharpies, and pugs have overlapping folds in the skin. Over time, these folds will retain moisture and start growing microorganisms that result in unusual odor. A thorough and regular cleaning solution will rid their skin of excess moisture and prevent odors.

In some dogs, the unusual stench could result from dermatitis or fungal infection easily treatable with medications.

What are the Reasons behind Their Bad Smell?

To pinpoint a specific problem with your dog, you'd need to look for tell-tale signs and match the symptoms with prevailing diseases or infections.

When you find the problem, you will find the cure.

To make matters simple, here are seven prominent reasons why your dog started smelling unusually bad.

1. Dental Problems

The dental problem such as periodontal disease is common in adult dogs that cause smelly breath. By the age of three, 80% of dogs develop gum disease that increases as they get older.

The disease may begin when bacteria in an unkempt mouth combine with food particles to form plaques. The minerals found in the saliva bond with these plaques to form tartar resulting in deteriorating gum line producing toxins and pungent smell.

Without immediate treatment, this can lead to bone and tissue damage and dental infection.

periodontal disease

Another dental problem-specific in dogs is Gingival Hyperplasia, the overgrowth of the gums that can harbor food residue and produce a rotten smell.

Boxers, Bulldogs, Cocker Spaniels, Collies, and Great Danes are more prone to this oral disease.


  • Take your dog to the vet for a dental checkup every six months, or add it to the annual wellness check. Diagnosing underlying dental problems in time will solve them before they become serious.
  • Your dog might require tooth extraction, gum surgery, or a thorough cleaning depending on the dental problem.
  • Brush your dog's teeth every day, and offering them safe toys and treats will also help keep their oral hygiene in check.

2. Urinary Incontinence

Urinary incontinence or lack of bladder control is common in aged dogs that can cause a foul smell in dogs.

They are more prone to develop weaker bladder and bladder infections over time, causing muscles in the urinary tract to weaken. Without bladder control, urine leaks onto their fur, producing a stench.

The condition continues occurring more frequently in senior spayed females than male dogs.

urinary incontinence

Certain dog breeds are more likely to contract urinary incontinence, including the springer, cocker spaniel, Old English sheepdog, and Doberman pinscher.


  • Your vet will prescribe medication to strengthen your dog's sphincter muscle for better urine control or offer hormonal therapy. Sometimes it could be a sign of kidney disease.
  • Proin ER (phenylpropanolamine hydrochloride extended-release) is recommended for dogs with incontinence.
  • Using doggie diapers will prevent the urine from leaking into the fur.
  • Maintain proper hygiene and give regular baths to prevent skin infection and foul smell.

3. Kidney disease

Dogs suffering from kidney disease cannot eliminate toxins from their bloodstream, which gives an ammonia-like odor to their breath.

Kidney-related diseases are much more frequent in elderly pets, but this doesn't mean an adult dog couldn't get one.

Bad breath is the first sign of underlying kidney disease in dogs. You would know this by a metallic odor present in their breath. Other grave signs include

  1. Excess thirst and water consumption
  2. Increased urination
  3. Dull coat
  4. Appetite loss
  5. Mouth soreness
  6. Vomiting

dog bad breath


  • If you catch these early signs, take your dog to the nearest vet.
  • Dogs with kidney disease are prescribed a special kidney diet, a diet reduced in phosphorus, protein, acid, and sodium and supplemented with omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil.
  • For chronic kidney diseases, a kidney transplant is recommended.

4. Diabetes

Dogs diagnosed with late-stage diabetes may produce a distinctive odor that smells like a nail polish remover.

A complex disorder of carbohydrate, protein, and lipid metabolism results from a relative or absolute insulin deficiency or peripheral cell insensitivity to Insulin characterized by high blood glucose concentrations, commonly known as Diabetes mellitus.

diabetes in dogs

It is common in many adults and aged dogs. They are unable to produce or regulate Insulin, hence failing to use the food properly. It can cause the body to weaken and lead to a disorder.


  • Your vet may suggest diet change, lifestyle change, oral medications, exercise, and Insulin.
  • Administering Insulin is the most effective way to control diabetes in dogs.

5. Skin Infection

A dog may experience different kinds of skin infections throughout its life. Severe skin infections may produce a foul and distinctive smell.

Secondary bacterial infections from constant scratching are common in dogs with eczema. The scratching encourages bacteria to break into the skin through cracks and produce a nasty smell.

Dogs with wrinkly skin, such as bulldogs, can attract fold dermatitis caused by constant moisture and warmth.

skin infection dogs

Canine seborrhea is another skin condition that results in a cheese-like smell due to the buildup of sebum and yeast on their skin.


  • Your vet may administer an antibiotic, Amoxicillin/Clavulanate, to treat bacterial infections and skin diseases.
  • A homemade therapy for itchy skin includes bathing your dog with a solution of water blended with baking soda.
  • Oral antibiotics may help treat or prevent secondary bacterial infections.

6. Anal Sac Issues

Dogs with anal sac infection or impactions may produce a foul stench, often described as a "fishy smell."

The anal sacs are two small glands located on either side of the dog's rectum. If they become impacted, it can lead to anal sac rupture and forms an abscess.

Anal sac issues

Dragging their bottom on the ground, scooting, and excess licking of the anal can lead to anal sac infections.


  • Your vet may administer pain relief medications like meloxicam to control swelling and inflammation of anal sacs.
  • An antibiotic like Clindamycin is prescribed orally or sometimes instilled into the anal sacs.
  • Regular cleaning of the anal sac with 0.25% Chlorhexidine or 0.4% Povidone-iodine solutions is also recommended.
  • Applying warm compresses to the anal sac area twice daily also helps to reduce inflammation and pain.

7. Flatulence

Flatulence is common in many dogs that cause terrible gas. Occasional burping, gurgling, and flatulence are normal, but excessive gas could indicate a problem.

It mainly occurs when your dog eats something it is not supposed to, such as certain food items, rubber toys, clothes, etc.

Flatulence in dogs

Sometimes, the diet change could also cause flatulence.


  • You should avoid feeding table scraps, dairy products, and other fart-inducing foods to dogs.
  • Your vet may recommend diet changes, such as grain-free or fish-based.
  • Oral medication like Simethicone or an antacid also helps reduce dog farts.


How to Prevent Your Dog from Stinking?

Except for medical conditions, you can use household remedies to prevent your dog from smelling.

  • Brush their teeth daily. Use canine-friendly toothbrushes and toothpaste.
  • Wipe your dog's coat with dog wipes or baby wipes to keep them fresh and deodorized.
  • Brush your dog regularly to remove dirt, dander, and allergens.
  • Consider grooming at a regular interval of time.
  • Use dry dog shampoo when bathing it.
  • Their keep bedding, food bowl, and toys clean.


In short

You can prevent many diseases and infections that cause stench by keeping your dog healthy. Talk to your vet to administer a proper diet, exercise, and lifestyle, so your dog is less likely to attract common skin-related problems.

Get in touch with Urban Pet Hospital & Resort, the Best doggy daycare in Urbandale, to find more valuable tips.

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