Dogs, like most mammals, can often emit repulsive body odors. A case in point is when your pooch smells like rotten fish.
Unlike humans, dogs aren’t intelligent enough to mask their own unpleasant body odors. In fact, most of the smells we find repugnant are the very ones dogs are attracted to. Not only will a dog relish such odors by licking frantically on their furs. They’ll also waft it across the room and hope you find it awesome (much as the effect is usually quite the opposite).
This article goes over the common reasons dogs smell like fish and what you can do to remedy the situation.
Reasons Your Dog Smells Like Fish
1) You Just Fed Him A Fish-based Diet
One of the most straightforward reasons your dog smells like fish is that he just had a hearty meal of seafood. But in this case, the smell will be more of fresh fish than rotten one.
2) He Has Been Scavenging In Your Trash Cans
Dogs have a weird attraction to things and places that humans find putrid. These include trash cans and rotting animal carcasses.
You might have had a seafood meal recently and disposed of the leftovers in your trash can. If your dog has been rummaging through these cans satisfying his scavenging instincts, then he’ll most certainly smell like decomposing fish.
3) He Has Been Using Fish Oil
Fish oil can provide plenty of health and nutritional benefits to dogs, whether administered orally or externally. The oil is particularly noted for its abundance of omega-3 fatty acids, which contain anti-inflammatory properties.
Omega-3 acids can soothe skin irritation while guarding against inflammatory conditions like cancer. The compounds might also help treat various skin allergies in dogs.
But despite its immense benefits, fish oil can easily seep through your dog’s pores when applied topically. When that happens, the animal’s coat will definitely smell fishy.
4) It’s An Emotional Response
Dogs can often exude fishy smells when they’re excited or nervous. In this case, you’re more likely to pick up the smell from the animal’s sweat glands located in the paw pads, ears, and rears.
5) The Dog Has an Underlying Medical Condition
There’s a wide range of medical conditions that could cause your dog to emit a fishy odor. They include;
a) Dental Problems
Periodontal disease is the most common dental disease in humans and canines alike. The disease affects up to 84% of dogs over three years old. It typically results from the infection and inflammation of the gums.
Poor dental hygiene accounts for most reported cases of periodontal disease. However, the condition might also result from a genetic predisposition.
Symptoms of periodontal disease include yellow or brown tartar, red or puffy gums, and loose or abscessed teeth. The condition is also known to emit foul odor, which may often smell fishy.
b) Gastrointestinal Issues
Certain gastrointestinal complications can cause fish-scented breath in dogs. This is especially common among dogs with food allergies and intolerances.
Food allergies may present symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, and flatulence. When the affected dog burps, you may pick up what smells like rotten fish.
Besides, food allergies usually cause excessive licking. The bacteria in your dog’s saliva may then combine with other natural skin secretions to give a fishy smell.
Acid reflux, commonly known as gastroesophageal reflux or GERD, is another gastrointestinal issue that may also produce a fish-like smell. Symptoms include regurgitation, hypersalivation, air gulping, and lip licking.
c) Anal Gland Disorders
If the fishy smell emanates from your dog’s rear end, then it could indicate problems with his anal glands.
Dogs have a pair of fluid-filled structures known as anal glands or anal sacs. The glands contain a fish-smelling liquid which may range in color and consistency.
You’re more likely to see your dog’s anal glands when the animal poops or is frightened. And what’s when the fish-smelling odor might hit you hardest.
Besides, certain dogs may not express their anal glands properly. This could lead to impaction or rupture, thereby amplifying the fishy smell.
Canines with underlying medical conditions like obesity, constipation, and chronic diarrhea are at a greater risk of anal gland disorders.
d) Other Medical Conditions
Urinary tract infections (UTIs) might also cause fishy odors. The same is true for kidney stones, bladder cancers, and prostate disorders (in male dogs).
Expectedly, the fish-like smell will be more concentrated in the dog’s pee.
Dogs with skin or ear yeast infections may also give off fishy smells. This is especially where the condition produces festering sores.
Yeast infections can affect any breed. However, Golden Retrievers, Hounds, Labradors, and Spaniels tend to be most at risk.
How to Help Your Dog Smell Good
The most effective way to address the problem of fish-smelling dogs is to establish the root cause of the problem. Certain natural causes are pretty easy to fix.
For instance, if your dog smells like fish simply because he has had a seafood meal, bathing might do the trick.
Scavenging behaviors may indicate an underfed or understimulated dog. Therefore, ensure your pooch is well-fed and adequately stimulated to prevent him from venturing into undesired places.
Maintaining proper oral hygiene is also a proactive way of preventing fish-smelling odor. This mainly entails brushing your dog’s teeth at least thrice a week, preferably using a canine enzymatic toothpaste. It also includes getting the animal to floss regularly and providing him with water additives to minimize the risks of plaque buildup.
Experts also recommend feeding your dog fiber-rich foods. Fiber produces firmer stools, which can help your dog’s anal glands express normally.
If nothing works despite implementing the above interventions, then that’s your cue to take your dog for veterinary checkup. A thorough medical examination will reveal underlying diseases behind the fish-like odor.
A fishy odor is relatively common in dogs. But it could also indicate a serious underlying problem. We hope you’re better informed on how to proceed the next time Fido smells like a can of decomposing tuna.