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Why does my dog smell like fish | Ask Our Expert

Dec 24,2021

Our paw partners are usually associated with the "wet dog" smell after a heavy downpour caught them on their last outing or they may smell like freshly cut grass if they have rolled in the grass in your yard. A careful dog owner should be mindful of the smells his dog gives off as they are important indicators for their health, hygiene, and emotional state.

Stressed and scared dogs are usually producing a particularly repellent odor when they go potty. A smell is a dog’s way to communicate their health status and emotional state to other dogs and that is why many dogs are enthused to smell excrement from other dogs. In addition, the smell your dog gives off will indicate if it is in heat or not and that is something a dog will be very much interested to know.

A smell that not many of us may be familiar with is the fishy smell coming from a dog. You might feel it if the dog is very close to your face or you are cleaning after their potty time. It is important to find out where the fishy smell may be coming from as it is a cue that your veterinarian will need to ascertain the cause. If you notice your dog has a fishy smell please visit your veterinarian and consult them as soon as possible.


Fishy Breath

A fishy breath in your dog can be connected to several issues some of which can be severe. I recommend checking your dog’s mouth for fish meat or bones that may be stuck between their teeth. The reasons for the fishy breath can be a few other things like plaque, tartar, upset stomach, diabetes, and most worryingly — periodontal disease, and kidney disease. Fortunately, all this can be abated through regular visits to your preferred veterinarian, chewing treats (also called dental sticks for dogs).

Dogs love to chew everything that is of interest to them which may include unsafe items, sticks in the forest/park that may have thorns, your cat’s food, and bones that could leave small pieces lodged between their teeth. If your dog has plaque build-up, it is recommended to brush their teeth two to three times per week and use dental treats. Remain vigilant and do not postpone visits to the local vet.


Fishy Urine

FYI — a dog’s urine should smell like human urine, there is nothing special about it. If you notice that your dog’s urine has a fishy smell that may indicate problems with their reproductive system or urinary tract. The fishy smell may be part of few other symptoms that could mean your dog has an infection. You should check if your dog cries during a potty time and if the urine may have blood in it. That could mean your dog is in pain when urinating and that it may have an infection. If that is the case, you should go see your veterinarian as soon as possible.


Fishy-Smelling Butt

Your dog has anal glands that are positioned on each side of your dog’s bum. These glands are used to scent their excrement and help them mark their territory as well as communicate their health status to other dogs. If you notice that your dog’s behind has a fishy smell to it that might indicate anal glands disease. When a dog’s anal glands are not working properly they tend to get hard and painful to touch. These glands are responsible for releasing oils when your dog has a normal bowel movement and, as mentioned before, communicate information to other dogs. If the anal glands are not working properly the dog will give off a fishy smell. The glands may harden further and even rupture.

The fishy-smelling butt is often a problem that owners of small and overweight dogs encounter. Smaller dogs have narrow oil ducts and that impedes the function of the glands. The overweight dogs suffer from too much pressure on the glands and that interferes with their normal oil release too. It has been observed that dogs who have problems with their anal glands have discolored or swollen bum, they bite and lick as ways to release some stress and have blood in their stool. Needless to say, you should immediately seek help from a veterinarian if you have reasons to suspect anal glands disease.


How to Avoid the Fishy Smell

We recommend not overfeeding your dog and having a lot of fiber in your dog’s diet. Track your dog’s weight, it is normal for the dog’s ribs to be seen, but your dog’s body should be soft to the touch and your dog should have healthy energy levels. Invest plenty of time for exercise and make sure your dog’s water bowl is always full. Hydration is very important for the optimal work of your dog’s glands and overall health. As a last tip — I strongly advise against postponing visits to your veteran. Your medical professional is equipped with the knowledge to notice important cues that a dog owner may have missed.