Why Does My Dog ​​Smell Like Fish?

Why does my dog smell like fish

We may pick up unusual odors at unexpected times, only to realize later that the odor is coming from our dog! Why does he smell so bad sometimes? And why the hell does it smell like fish some days?

Specific odors emanating from your pet may be part of the normal flora that lives in your dog, but they can also be a sign of medical problems.

It is a very characteristic and unforgettable smell that can disconcert us to the point of wondering why our dog’s anus smells like fish. In general, the smell of rotten or fish coming from the dog’s anus is due to a problem related to the anal glands, either due to lack of hygiene or other reasons. In this BestPetsLover article, we are going to explain exactly why it occurs and how we can avoid it since it can be a symptom of a problem that needs to be treated.

Origin of the fishy smell: the anal glands

To find out why your dog’s anus smells like fish, you need to go to the anal glands, which are two sacs that are found under the skin on both sides of the anus (seen as a clock, they would be found at five and seven). They contain an oily and viscous liquid, with an unpleasant smell, which is expelled to facilitate the elimination of feces. It also works as marking, hence dogs greet each other by sniffing each other’s butts. Sometimes these glands can spontaneously empty when the dog is in a very scary situation.

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A few drops can likewise be discharged that we can find on your bed or the floor as little earthy colored spots. This emptying is produced by a strong contraction of the anal sphincter. Sometimes, this liquid is not eliminated correctly and is the source of various problems, as we will see below.

Some dogs smell worse than others

Depending on your dog’s breed, gender, age, and build, one dog may smell worse than another. For example, retrievers and cocker spaniels have oilier hair than Boston terriers. The more fat it produces, the more likely it is to be accompanied by a bad smell.

If your dog has skin folds like the English bulldog or Shar-Pei, the skin can collect bacteria, and the skin cells in these folds can cause the odor. The odors you notice on your skin are from oil-dissolving bacteria and sweat from the sebaceous glands.

There are glands in the footpads that can also cause a bad odor that some people associate with the smell of corn chips (a bit weird, yes!).

You can bathe your dog with a mild shampoo or take them to the groomer to see if they have any recommendations. But beware: washing your dog too often can alter the natural flora of its skin and hair, so try to limit it to a bath every fortnight. As long as the odors you notice are not related to a medical problem, you do not have to worry.

My dog’s breath smells like fish

The fishy odor you perceive from your dog’s mouth may be associated with ailments such as kidney disease, diabetes, or periodontal disease. The bad odor associated with periodontal disease comes from the production of volatile sulfur compounds by bacteria.

Other sources of odor are often by-products of bacterial metabolism from bacteria that live on the gums, top of the tongue, and plaque on the teeth.

Brushing your dog’s teeth with an enzyme toothpaste 2-3 times a week will prevent plaque formation and help keep bad breath at bay. Using treats for dental hygiene or treats that help remove tartar and plaque, such as beef strips, will also help clean your dog’s teeth naturally.

If you notice that your dog’s mouth smells like fish, it could be due to the following problems:

  • Gingivitis
  • Tartar, Plaque, and Calculus
  • Stomachache
  • Food between teeth
  • Others: tumors, decayed teeth, dental abscess, es or infection

If your dog tries to eat stinky things like cat poop or candy or other fishy-tasting food, this may be the reason his breath smells fishy.

Symptoms of Malfunctioning Anal Glands in Dogs

The explanation for why a dog’s anus smells rotten or fishy can be found in the fact that the anal glands are not working properly. Our dog will show the following symptoms :

  • Drag the anus on the ground. In severe cases, on the contrary, the dog will have difficulty sitting down and, if he does, he will get up quickly.
  • Lick and nibble the area.
  • Manifest pain when defecating r.
  • Constipation, affected dogs avoid defecation due to that pain.
  • Turn to chase tail.
  • The perianal area may be swollen and/or red.
  • Fever and malaise may occur if an infection has developed.

Not removing this lubricant correctly causes the glands to remain full, which can lead to the pathologies that we will see below.

Anal Gland Disorders in Dogs

If they are not emptied, the glands can cause the following problems:

  1. Impaction or retention: it refers to the fact that the glands remain full and become distended, due to poor emptying or very dense liquid, causing the symptoms that we have mentioned. The glands must be emptied.
  2. Infection and inflammation (vasculitis): The impaction can end up causing an infection. In these cases, the fishy odor of the year will be much stronger, the discharge will turn yellowish, and, once diagnosed, it will require antibiotic treatment, in addition to emptying and cleaning. In this way, it is not surprising to observe that the dog expels liquid through the anus with the aforementioned characteristics.
  3. Abscess: it would be the third step after impaction and infection. The inflammation produced by the infectious process causes an abscess that is capable of opening the skin and even creates a fistula through which it will drain. Causes fever. Obviously, you really want anti-microbials, waste, and cleaning. In more severe or recurrent cases, surgery to remove the glands may be necessary.

As we can see, all these disorders can explain why our dog’s anus smells like fish. In addition, tumors can occur in the anal glands, such as benign or malignant adenocarcinomas, generally dependent on testosterone. The latter can metastasize to the lung, although surgical removal is recommended for both. Sterilization is also recommended because it favors the regression of tumors since they occur more in entire males over 7 years of age.

How to avoid anal gland problems

Once we know why our dog’s anus smells rotten or fishy, ​​we are going to expose the ways to reduce this unpleasant smell. The measures that we must observe are the following:

  1. Take care of the dog at the first symptom, that is, let’s not wait for the picture to get complicated to seek veterinary help.
  2. If our dog is prone to accumulating this fluid, we must include the emptying of the glands in his routine. Although it is a technique that can be done at home, many caregivers prefer that it be the veterinarian or the dog groomer who performs it. It is about pressing on the area, with the precaution of keeping a gauze pad on the anus to collect the secretion that is going to come out. Gloves must be used.
  3. Stool characteristics are known to influence voiding. Chronic diarrhea, small or too soft stools do not press well on the glands on their way out so that it will be easier for them to accumulate the lubricating fluid. A correct diet helps this elimination.
  4. It is also known that there are breeds with a propensity to suffer from gland problems. Assuming we live with a German Shepherd, a Chihuahua, or a Poodle, for instance, we should focus on this perspective.

Why does my dog ​​smell so bad?

Skin and ear infections, whether yeast or bacterial, can cause a female dog to have a strong, pungent odor. Poor dental hygiene and anal glands that need to be squeezed can also be to blame for bad canine odors.

How do I know if my dog ​​has a urinary infection?

Dogs with UTIs usually try to urinate very frequently every time they go outside. They may also strain to urinate, or yell or whimper when urinating if it hurts. Here and there you could see blood in the pee. Dripping urine or frequent licking of the genitals can also indicate the presence of a urinary tract infection.

Why does my dog’s urine smell fishy? 

Even if your dog follows a slightly different diet than yours, his urine should smell like urine. If you notice that he has a stronger odor than usual, it is surely a sign that he has a urinary infection.

UTIs, come from bacteria in the urine that don’t belong there, thus causing the urine to smell fishy.

As soon as you notice this odor, call your vet to schedule a urinalysis for crystals, red blood cells, protein, white blood cells, and any other indicators of urinary disease. A urine culture would also need to be done to look at the bacteria present in the urine.

If your vet suspects a urinary tract infection, your dog will need to take antibiotics to clear the infection, which in turn will clear the odor.

My dog ​​smells like fish

Your dog has a normal bacterial flora that lives in her vagina, but a bad fish-like odor (or worse) could be a sign of a medical problem.

If you have ruled out problems in the anal glands and you see a clear discharge coming from the vagina, it could be a sign of a vaginal infection, or vaginitis, caused by fungi or bacteria.

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A female dog’s uterus can also become infected and be the cause of yellowish-white discharge from the vagina. Infection of the uterus is called pyometra. Pyometra is a serious condition that requires emergency surgery; If you suspect this may be the case, take your dog to the vet immediately.

This happens in female canines that poor person been fixed. If it’s already there and it’s leaking that discharge, it’s still a cause for concern, as the stump of the uterus, if the surgeon has left it, can get infected. In addition, the constitution of your dog’s vaginal area can cause infections more or less easily depending on its shape.

So, if you notice a bad smell on your dog’s bottom, it could also be a urinary tract infection. All of these diseases require attention and can be evaluated by your veterinarian.

My dog ​​smells like fish when he’s scared

Dogs have special scent glands in their anus, aptly called anal glands. These are the glands that dogs sniff at each other when they greet each other!

The anal glands are small bags on the sides of the anus filled with an oily and odorous material that is released when the dog defecates. However, some dogs’ anal glands can release this dark, oily, foul-smelling substance when they become frightened, stressed, or relaxed in certain positions.

If you notice that your dog drags his butt on the ground, it is usually a sign that he is suffering from irritation due to having full anal glands. Your veterinarian or groomer can empty them manually from time to time to avoid bad odors and dragging the bottom.

When is my dog’s bad odor a medical problem? 

Your vet can help you investigate whether the odors you notice are normal or pathological. First, they will do a history and physical exam to see if there is a source causing the odor.

If there is no history or signs of disease or skin problems, your vet will be able to tell you what your dog’s natural scents are. If you notice that your dog’s odor has changed, this could indicate a skin problem or systemic disease.

The most obvious causes of odor can be urine or fecal dirt, a skunk attack, an infection, a physical injury, or something your dog has rolled on or stepped on.

Skin diseases associated with bad odor include: 

  • Bacterial skin diseases
  • Fungal skin diseases
  • Dandruff or seborrhea
  • Ear infections

All of the above diseases are associated with mild odors depending on their severity and you may only notice them when you get close to your pet.

Stronger body odors that also require veterinary attention include ear infections, combinations of ear and skin infections with parasites, and odors caused by secretions linked to autoimmune skin diseases.

Whatever the cause, your vet will help you find out what’s causing the odors and let you know if they’re dangerous or if they’re something you can ignore.

Do female dogs have scent glands?

What are the anal glands? The anal gland sacs are located at “4 o’clock and 8 o’clock”, on either side of the anus. The walls of the sac are lined with glands that produce a fluid that is normally released every time your dog poops. Both male and female dogs have anal glands to express fluid buildup.

What happens if you don’t remove your dog’s glands?

Squeezing the anal glands when there is no problem can potentially lead to anal gland inflammation and vasculitis in an otherwise healthy dog. At the end of the day, on the off chance that it ain’t bankrupt, don’t fix it. If your dog needs his anal glands expressed, veterinarians and most groomers offer this service.

How can I know if my dog ​​has a yeast infection?

Signs that your canine might have a yeast contamination

1. Redness or itching of the skin.

2. Sticky or yellow/green discharge.

3. Sores

4. Greasy coat.

5. Hair loss.

6. Smelly skin

7. Skin thickening.

8. Crunchy, scaly skin.

How do I get rid of my dog’s fishy smell?

The first thing to do after detecting a fishy odor on your dog’s bottom is to book an appointment with the vet. In many cases, your dog could have his anal glands emptied.

The vet will wear gloves and manipulate the rear end, squeezing out some of the smelly fishy gunk onto a tissue.

Once this task is completed, the dog will stop smelling fishy. Unfortunately, many small dog breeds need their anal glands to be emptied several times a year.

Although it is possible to do it yourself with practice (as we will explain later in the article), it is highly recommended that you enlist the help of a veterinarian if you are dealing with a breed whose anal glands need to be emptied regularly.

Without proper care and knowledge, dog owners can be at risk of causing inflammation or permanent scarring of their dog’s anal glands.


We have explained that many diseases can be the cause of your dog smelling fishy or giving off some kind of bad smell.

Researching what could cause your dog to smell fishy would allow you to delve into your dog’s habits and diet, and alert you to any health issues.

Dogs are (often) smelly creatures, so it’s not uncommon for dog owners to become accustomed to their dogs’ unique scents and scents over the years, and as a result, end up pretty much unfazed by the smells they smell. perceive in their nose.

This is all part of the joys of dog ownership and can be easily resolved with regular, deep cleaning, as well as a little human ingenuity.

No dog owner wants their dog to have a stinky butt that smells like fish, and as such being aware of the causes of this phenomenon helps know.

Although this topic may seem gross to some readers, it’s important to cover if you want to keep your dog happy and healthy.

Also, owning a dog usually comes with its fair share of uncomfortable experiences; however, fortunately, the good experiences far outweigh the bad.