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Why does my dog smell bad?

Paws that smell like corn chips may be harboring an infection.
Paws that smell like corn chips may be harboring an infection.
Nicole Adams (Examiner)

“Wet dog” often conjures up a particular type of smell, and many dog guardians are familiar with the 'smell of dog', but when your pooch is emitting an offensive odor, something is wrong. It is not natural for a dog to smell bad, so if he does, there is a reason.

Determine where the smell is coming from. This will help narrow down the cause and help you find a solution. Always see your veterinarian if you suspect your pooch has a medical issue. Potential areas of foul odor include:


Inspect your canine companion's skin. Foul odors can occur if allergies, infection, open wounds or bacteria are to blame. If your pooch has folds in his skin, look closely where the skin overlaps. If the skin does not get aired out enough, yeast can grow due to excess moisture. Parasite infestations can also give off a strong, smelly odor but they can be more difficult to detect.

Perhaps it is not his skin but his fur. Does your furry companion love to roll around outside? He may have picked up an unwanted odor or two. Smells are more apt to get trapped in long-haired dogs since odor-causing particles can become tangled in the fur. If long or thick hair has become matted, even feces or urine can get stuck to the matted fur and give off an unpleasant odor.

Open your dog's mouth and take a breath. Do you want to pass out? That's a bad sign. Your dog's breath should have virtually no odor at all. If your dog's breath stinks, there is an underlying problem. Gum disease is common in dogs (but shouldn't be) and will produce bad breath. If the smell is particularly overwhelming, your furry loved one may have an abscess, oral tumor or decaying teeth.

Take a sniff of inside your dog's ears. Ear infections often have a bad smell from bacteria or fungus. Dogs with floppy ears tend to get more ear infections because the ears don't have a chance to air out. But some dogs are just more susceptible to ear infections.

Smell your pooch's paws. Many dog guardians believe their pooch's paws smell like corn chips. This could be due to bacteria or a yeast infection. Dogs sweat through the pads of their paws, and the excess moisture gets trapped in between the toes and in the fur. This can cause an overgrowth of bacteria, which leads to the popular “corn chip smell”. If your pooch's paws smell like something else, there could be an infection from a cut on the pads or in between the toes.

Strong, smelly odors coming from your dog's butt is typically obvious to the nose without having to put your sniffer near their hind end. While dogs, like humans, naturally pass gas, frequently passing gas is not normal. This could indicate digestive distress, related to food allergies, food intolerance, colitis or other digestive problems. A more pungent smell may have to do with the anal glands. Though the anal glands naturally express during defecation, some dogs have problems with leaky or blocked anal glands, in which case they need to be expressed manually.

Regular grooming, including bathing, cleaning the ears, trimming hair and nails, brushing fur and teeth, will go a long way in keeping extra smells to a minimum. Grooming gives you the chance to check out your dog from nose to tail and inspect his skin, fur, ears, teeth, paws and hind quarters.

While your furry canine companion will have her own natural smell, her skin, fur, ears, mouth and paws should not give off a strong odor. Chances are, if you have had your furry child for a while, you know what her natural odor smells like. Anything to the contrary should be a red flag. It is always recommended to consult with your veterinarian first.

What you may not know about your dog's paws
Gas and digestive distress in dogs
The importance of oral health care in dogs

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