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Why Does Your Dog Smell Like Fish and What You Can Do About It



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Does your dog have a fishy smell that just won’t go away? While it’s normal for dogs to have a certain odor, a strong fishy smell could be a sign of an underlying health issue. It’s important to identify the cause of the odor in order to properly address the issue.

One possible reason for your dog’s fishy smell is skin irritation or infection. Dogs with skin allergies or fungal infections can develop a fishy odor. Another cause could be a urinary tract infection or bladder infection, which often results in a strong smelling urine. It’s also possible that your dog has rolled in something with a strong fishy odor, such as fish carcasses or dead marine life.

Possible Causes of Fishy Odor in Dogs

As a dog owner, you may have noticed that your furry friend smells fishy. This is not a pleasant odor, and you may be wondering what could cause it. There are several possible causes of a fishy odor in dogs, including:

  1. Anal gland issues: Dogs have anal glands that produce a fishy odor when they are full or infected. This odor can be particularly strong near a dog’s rear end, and you may also notice your dog scooting across the floor or licking their rear.
  2. Skin infections: Skin infections caused by yeast or bacteria can also produce a fishy odor. You may notice redness, itching, or flaky skin in addition to the odor.
  3. Diet: Diet can play a role in a dog’s odor. Certain types of fish or fish-based dog foods can cause a fishy smell in your dog’s breath and skin oils.
  4. Allergies: Dogs can develop allergies to a variety of things, including their food, pollen, and environmental allergens. Allergies can cause itchy skin, rashes, and a strong odor.
  5. Dental issues: Dogs with dental problems can develop a fishy smell in their breath. You may also notice other signs of dental issues, such as loose or broken teeth or swollen gums.

If you notice a fishy odor on your dog, it’s important to take them to the vet to get a proper diagnosis. Your vet can perform a physical exam, run tests, and recommend a course of treatment to help your dog feel better and smell fresher.
Role of Diet in Fishy Smell in Dogs


Have you noticed that your furry friend’s smell is reminiscent of fish? If so, you might be wondering what’s behind this peculiar odor. Well, one possible reason is their diet.

A diet high in seafood or fish-based dog food is a common cause of the fishy smell in dogs. Fish-based dog food contains a high concentration of omega-3 fatty acids. Although omega-3s offer several health benefits, excessive consumption of this nutrient can lead to an overproduction of oils in your dog’s skin, leading to that distinctive smell.

Another potential cause of fishy smell in dogs is a reaction to novel protein diets. Dogs occasionally develop unpleasant smells when their systems aren’t used to digesting different kinds of proteins. This is common when owners switch to different food brands or introduce new proteins like fish, buffalo, or lamb.

While a fishy odor may not necessarily be a concern, if you notice that this odor is accompanied by inflammation, itching, hair loss, or other visible symptoms, it might be a sign of a health problem. For instance, it could indicate an allergic reaction, bacterial or fungal infections, or even an underlying disease.

Therefore, if you suspect that your dog’s breath or body smell is caused by their diet, you may want to consult with a veterinarian. They can recommend an appropriate balance of omega-3s in your dog’s diet or advise you on the most appropriate protein sources. To keep your dog healthy and smelling fresh, it’s best to feed them a well-balanced diet that suits their unique needs.

In conclusion, a fishy smell in dogs can often be attributed to a diet that’s high in seafood or omega-3s. However, if the odor persists even after changing the diet, it’s best to consult with a vet to rule out any underlying health issues.

Health Issues that can Cause Fishy Smell in Dogs

If your dog has started smelling like fish, there could be a few underlying health problems that require attention. Here are some of the health issues that could cause your dog to smell like fish.

Anal Gland Issues

Anal glands or sacs are located on either side of a dog’s anus, and contain a fluid that is usually emptied during bowel movements. If the fluid gets trapped inside the anal glands, it can lead to an unpleasant odour similar to fish. Dogs may express their anal glands when they are scared or excited, but if they are not able to express them naturally, it can result in an infection or blockage.

Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)

A urinary tract infection is an infection in the dog’s urinary system – the bladder, ureters, and urethra. Along with other symptoms, like urinating more frequently, and blood in the urine, UTI can also cause a fishy smell. The smell comes from bacteria in the urine breaking down into ammonia.

Skin Infection

A skin infection can cause an odour, including a fishy smell if it’s due to the overgrowth of yeast. Dogs with skin folds, like bulldogs and Shar Peis, are more prone to skin infections. Common symptoms may include itchiness, redness, bald patches, bumps or scabs on the skin.

Dental Problems

Dental issues such as periodontal disease and cavities can also lead to bad breath and foul smells from a dog’s mouth, which can also smell fishy. Bacteria from decaying teeth can accumulate in the oral cavity and produce a fishy-like smell. It is important to maintain good dental hygiene in your dog to prevent dental problems.

If you notice your dog smelling like fish, it’s important to take them to the vet. Your vet can diagnose the underlying cause and provide necessary treatment.
Breeds Predisposed to Fishy Odor

While all dogs have a natural scent, some breeds tend to emit a stronger fishy odor than others. This can be due to a variety of reasons, including skin and coat issues, diet, and genetics.

Here are some of the dog breeds that are predisposed to a fishy smell:

  1. Labrador Retrievers: This breed is known for its love of water and swimming. However, this can also lead to skin infections and ear infections, which can cause a fishy smell.
  2. Basset Hounds: Basset Hounds have an oily coat that can become smelly if not cleaned regularly. They also tend to have skin folds that trap dirt, leading to a fishy odor.
  3. English Setters: This breed has a dense coat that can become greasy and emit a fishy odor if not properly groomed. They are also prone to skin issues, which can contribute to the smell.
  4. Cocker Spaniels: Cocker Spaniels have long, thick fur that can become matted and trap dirt and debris. This can cause a strong fishy smell if not cleaned regularly.
  5. Shar-Peis: Shar-Peis have naturally oily skin, which can lead to a fishy odor if not cleaned properly. They are also prone to skin infections, which can contribute to the smell.

It’s important to note that while these breeds are more predisposed to a fishy odor, any dog can develop this issue. Regular grooming, proper diet, and addressing any underlying health issues can help reduce or eliminate the odor.

Proper Hygiene and Grooming to Prevent Fishy Smell in Dogs

If you’re concerned about your dog smelling of fish, there are several things you can do to help prevent this. Proper hygiene and grooming are key to keeping your dog smelling fresh and clean. Here are some tips:

  • Bathe your dog regularly: Regular baths can help remove oils, dirt, and bacteria that can contribute to a fishy smell. However, be careful not to bathe your dog too often as this can strip their skin of natural oils. Once a month is usually sufficient, but you may need to bathe your dog more often if they spend a lot of time outdoors or get particularly dirty.
  • Use a gentle shampoo: When bathing your dog, choose a shampoo that is specifically formulated for dogs. Human shampoos can be too harsh and can cause skin irritation. Look for a shampoo that is pH balanced and free of harsh chemicals.
  • Clean their ears: A fishy odor can sometimes be caused by an infection or buildup of wax in the ears. Make sure to clean your dog’s ears regularly with a gentle cleanser to prevent this from happening.
  • Brush their teeth: Bad breath can also contribute to an overall unpleasant odor. Brushing your dog’s teeth regularly can help prevent dental issues and keep their breath smelling fresh.
  • Keep their bedding clean: Your dog’s bedding can harbor bacteria and odors if it’s not cleaned regularly. Wash their bedding and any other toys or blankets they play with frequently.

In addition to these tips, it’s important to pay attention to your dog’s diet. Certain foods can cause bad odors, so make sure you’re feeding your dog a balanced diet that is appropriate for their age, size, and activity level.

Overall, maintaining good hygiene and grooming habits can go a long way in preventing a fishy smell in your dog. By following these tips, you can help keep your furry friend smelling clean and fresh.
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Specialty Products for Dealing with Fishy Smell in Dogs

If you’ve noticed a fishy odor coming from your dog, it’s important to investigate the underlying cause. Once you’ve determined the cause and addressed any health issues, specialty products can help manage the smell. Here are some products to consider:

1. Shampoos and Sprays

There are a variety of specialized dog shampoos and sprays designed to eliminate odors and leave your dog smelling fresh. Look for products that contain natural ingredients and avoid harsh chemicals that may irritate your dog’s skin. Some popular brands include:

  • Earthbath All Natural Pet Shampoo
  • Fresh Wave Odor Removing Spray
  • Skout’s Honor Probiotic Pet Shampoo

2. Supplements

Certain supplements can help improve the overall health of your dog’s skin and coat, which may help reduce odors. Look for supplements that contain Omega-3 fatty acids, which are known for their anti-inflammatory properties, or probiotics, which can help regulate the digestive system. Some popular supplements for dogs include:

  • Zesty Paws Omega Bites
  • Nutramax Welactin Omega-3 Supplement
  • Purina Pro Plan FortiFlora Probiotic Supplement

3. Air Fresheners

In addition to using products on your dog, you may want to consider using air fresheners in your home to combat lingering odors. Look for products that are safe for pets and avoid anything that contains harsh chemicals or artificial fragrances. Some popular pet-friendly air fresheners include:

  • Moso Natural Air Purifying Bag
  • Renuzit Sensitive Scents Gel
  • Citrus Magic Natural Odor Eliminating Spray

Remember, while specialty products can help manage the smell, it’s important to address any underlying health issues that may be causing the fishy odor in your dog. Consult with your veterinarian if you’re unsure of the cause or if you’re unsure which products to use.

When to Visit the Vet for Fishy Smell in Dogs

If your dog has a persistent fishy odor, it may be more than just a hygiene issue. Here are some situations where a visit to the vet may be necessary:

1. Skin Infection

A common cause of fishy odor in dogs is a skin infection. This can happen when bacteria or yeast overgrow on the skin, causing inflammation, itching, and odor. If your dog has hair loss, scabs, or sores along with the smell, it’s likely a skin infection. Your vet can diagnose the infection and prescribe appropriate treatment, which may include antibiotics, antifungal medication, or medicated shampoos.

2. Anal Gland Issues

Dogs have two anal glands that secrete a foul-smelling liquid. These glands should empty naturally during bowel movements, but sometimes they can become impacted or infected, leading to a fishy odor. If your dog is scooting their butt on the floor, licking their rear or has swollen glands, it could indicate an anal gland problem. Your vet can express the glands and prescribe medication or dietary changes to prevent future issues.

3. Kidney or Liver Disease

A fishy odor in your dog’s breath or body may be a sign of kidney or liver disease. These organs are responsible for filtering out toxins from the blood, and when they’re not working properly, toxins can build up and cause a smell. Other symptoms of kidney or liver disease include lethargy, decreased appetite, vomiting, and diarrhea. If you notice any of these symptoms in addition to the odor, schedule a vet appointment right away.

4. Diet

Sometimes, a fishy odor in your dog’s breath or coat could simply be a result of their diet. Certain types of fish-based dog foods or treats can cause a fishy smell. Additionally, some dogs may get into fish or seafood and ingest a large amount, resulting in a lasting smell. If you suspect the odor is diet-related, speak to your vet about switching to a different food or treat.

When in doubt, it’s always a good idea to bring your dog to the vet to rule out any serious underlying causes of a fishy smell. Optimal hygienic conditions are vital for your dog health and comfort, and maintaining them can avoid unpleasant fishy odors.
Preventing Fishy Smell in Dogs: Tips and Tricks

If you’re tired of your dog smelling like fish, there are steps you can take to prevent the unpleasant odor. Here are some tips and tricks to avoid the fishy smell:

  1. Use fish-free dog food: One of the main causes of the fishy odor is the presence of fish in dog food. Switch to a fish-free dog food or a hypoallergenic one.
  2. Add supplements to your dog’s diet: You can supplement your dog’s diet with omega-3 and other essential oils. These oils improve skin and coat health, which can help reduce odor.
  3. Bathe your dog regularly: Bathing your dog with a gentle dog shampoo will help get rid of the fishy smell. Use lukewarm water and a mild shampoo, and don’t overdo it as excessive bathing can strip the skin of natural oils.
  4. Groom your dog frequently: Brushing your dog’s fur regularly helps remove any dead skin and loose hairs, which can contribute to the fishy smell.
  5. Dry your dog completely: After bathing or swimming, make sure to dry your dog thoroughly. Moisture on the skin and coat creates a breeding ground for bacteria, which can cause the fishy smell.
  6. Keep your dog’s bedding clean: Wash your dog’s bedding frequently as it can trap odor-causing bacteria.
  7. Check for skin infections: Skin infections can also cause your dog to smell fishy. Check for any skin irritation, redness, or inflammation. If you notice any signs, take your dog to the veterinarian for treatment.

By following these simple tips and tricks, you can keep your dog smelling fresh and clean without the fishy odor. Remember to always consult with your veterinarian before making any changes to your dog’s diet or to discuss any concerns you may have about your dog’s health.
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Conclusion: Understanding and Coping with Fishy Smell in Dogs

Now that you know why your dog may smell like fish, it’s time to take action. Follow these steps to help cope with the issue:

  1. Regular Bathing: Regularly bathe your dog using a high-quality dog shampoo. This will help to strip away odors from your dog’s skin and coat. However, don’t over-bathe your dog, as this could dry out their skin and cause more problems.
  2. Diet and Supplements: Check your dog’s food for high-quality ingredients that are free from fish or fish byproducts. If your dog is eating fish-based food, it may be time to switch to a new protein source. Consult with your veterinarian about whether your dog needs any additional supplements or probiotics to ensure their skin and coat are healthy.
  3. Medical Check-Up: If the fishy smell persists even after you have taken the above steps, consider taking your dog to the veterinarian for a check-up. Certain medical conditions, such as kidney or liver disease, can cause a strong odor in dogs. Your veterinarian may also recommend allergy testing or skin scraping to rule out any underlying skin issues.

By following these steps, you can help reduce or eliminate the fishy smell in your dog and keep them happy and healthy. Remember, always consult with a veterinarian if you have any concerns about your dog’s health or well-being.

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