One of the oddest things that could happen to you as a dog owner is for your dog to smell like fish. This fish-like smell might surprise you, but you should know that dogs are mammals, and they can emit some unpleasant body odors. All you need to do is find out the cause of the foul odor and deal with it as soon as possible.
The most common reasons a dog smells like fish are Urinary Tract Infection (UTI), anal glands, yeast infections, dental issues, fungal diseases, pyometra, as well as gastrointestinal disorders. Take the dog to a veterinary doctor for a check-up and treatment to fix the fishy smell.
Dogs are known to display a lot of weird attitudes, including rolling and playing in strange things. As a result, the dog will emit foul odors. However, the fish smell is not caused by what the dog does; it is internal.
Why Does My Dog Smell Like Fish?
All dogs have a unique body odor known and recognized by their owners, so it is easy to know when your dog has a foul smell. A bath can often get rid of the foul smell, but when it becomes overpowering, there is a need to be concerned, especially if it smells like a fish. This is caused by various reasons, keep reading below to know in detail.
Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)
Urinary Tract Infection is common in dogs with diabetes, and it can also cause the dog to have a smelly, fishy odor. You can know a dog has a urinary tract infection when its urine smells like fish. The infection has led to an overload of bacteria in the urinary tract, causing a bad odor.
The undiluted urine of the dog aids bacterial growth, and if not treated as soon as possible, the infection can spread from the urinary tract to the kidney, which is very dangerous for the dog. So, the best thing to do is take a dog whose urine has a fish-like smell to the veterinary doctor for antibiotics.
The anal glands or anal sacs are located on either side of the dog’s anus; they contain sweat glands that produce unpleasant secretions that act as a scent marker for the dog. So, when a dog poops, the secretions are in the poop; this makes other dogs know the chemical information of the dog.
In the dog’s anus, some muscles hold the feces in the rectum, they are internal and external sphincters, and the anal glands are between them. As poop passes through the rectum, the anal glands are squeezed by the muscles, releasing secretions into the poop.
One of the most common symptoms of anal gland disease is a fishy smell. This occurs when the content of the anal glands is not properly discharged. Anal glands that appear swollen or warm are full and need to be emptied. This can happen when the dog has a soft stool that is not strong enough to release the anal glands during defecation.
Anal sac disease is commonly associated with small dog breeds; larger dog breeds are not affected. The dog’s anal glands are released in small amounts every time the dog defecates. There are times when anal sac is not empty, and the fluid in it becomes dry and impacts the sacs.
Impacted sacs cannot function properly, causing pain to the dog; if the impacted sacs are not treated, they can become abscessed. Dogs with obesity have an increased risk of having impacted anal glands. As time goes on, a dog with anal sac disease also has difficulty defecating.
Learn More: Why Does My Dog Keep Sneezing?
Another cause of fish-like smell in dogs is a periodontal disease caused by an infection or inflammation of the dog’s gums. You can know a dog has periodontal disease when the gums are red and inflamed, or there is a large amount of tartar in the dog’s teeth.
A dog with an abscessed or broken tooth can also have a fish-like smell due to the infection. There could also be food stuck in the dog’s teeth for a long time, producing a fish-like smell. There are two ways to get rid of dental infections, brushing the dog’s teeth using enzymatic toothpaste or maintaining a healthy diet.
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When a dog has a fungal disease or yeast infection, it can also have a fish-like odor. Yeast infections happen when a dog breathes in fungal spores due to exposure to fungal soil. This is common in dogs with excess skin, like bulldogs and pugs. The fold of skins can collect dead skin cells and yeast, producing a fish-like odor.
The fungal spores spread around the body through the bloodstream, leading to various symptoms, including loss of weight, loss of appetite, skin sores, eye diseases, and breathing issues. You should take a dog exhibiting any of these symptoms to a veterinary doctor for antifungal treatments.
Dogs suffering from food allergies tend to experience gastrointestinal disorders, and the most common symptoms are experiencing trouble digesting food and excessive burping. Gastrointestinal disorders can also result in fish-like odor in dogs.
Dogs experiencing gastrointestinal disorders may also attempt to gulp air, regurgitate their food, or drool. You should take any dog experiencing gastrointestinal disorder to a vet immediately. Acid reflux or gastroesophageal reflux (GERD) can also cause foul smells in dogs.
Keep reading: Why Does My Dog Smell So Bad?
How Do I Get Rid Of The Smell Of Fish On My Dog?
If you notice that your dog has a fishy smell, it is best to take it to a veterinary doctor to identify the cause of the foul smell and deal with it. A small dog breed is most likely a result of anal sac disease; their anal glands would have to be expressed regularly. It can be done by either a groomer or a vet.
You can also purchase anal gland supplements and wipes to help resolve anal gland issues in dogs. To deal with compacted anal sacs, the vet will use a saline rinse or a softening agent if the compaction is dry. After removing the compacted material, you need to feed your dog food with high fiber content to aid the natural functioning of the anal sacs.
In severe cases, the anal sac will be removed; anal sac diseases not resolved with treatment require surgical removal. Although there are risks of complications, if the procedure is successful, the dog’s life is not affected in any way. If the cause of the fishy smell is a yeast infection, there is a simple solution.
First, you need to limit your dog’s carbohydrate intake, and then give the dog a thorough bath with specialized dog shampoo and warm water. Yeast infections are common in female dogs, and they tend to occur in the vaginal. If a dog has periodontal disease, you should brush its teeth with enzymatic toothpaste to remove the smell, plaque, and infection.
Why Does My Dog Smell Like Fish When In Heat?
Dogs do not naturally smell like fish when they are in heat; the fish-like smell results from their anal sacs being full. In trying to release the fluid and get rid of the discomfort, there is a fish-like odor oozing from the anal glands of the dog. This has nothing to do with the dog being in heat.
There are several reasons your dog smells like fish, some you can deal with at home, but others require medical attention. When a dog smells like fish, it is not because they have eaten a can of anchovies or played around in fish water. Sometimes, it takes a visit to the vet to identify and treat the cause of the fishy smell.
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Shawn Manaher is a serial entrepreneur but when he isn’t working, he loves dogs. He’s owned different pets over the years, and always gives a part of his heart to each pet.