Dogs are drawn towards rotten and decayed matters, which is why they don’t feel uncomfortable with their own putrid smell. But we, humans, can feel the stench coming from them which raises suspicion.

So, you must be asking yourself, why does my dog smell like fish? Keep reading to find out everything that you need to know about dog body odors. 

What Causes Fishy Smell Suddenly in Dogs?

Your canine friends can emit fishy odors for a lot of different reasons.

A dog can reek of fish if it has been exposed to a fish-containing diet, fish oil, etc. In this case, the odor is something normal and nothing to worry about. 

However, if you haven’t been giving your dog anything related to fish, it can be something serious. Usually, your dog can emit a bad stench when it is suffering from different health issues.

This can happen as a result of the overgrowth of bacteria, yeast in the body, abnormalities of the anal glands, and even due to alimentary system diseases. If your dog smells bad without being subjected to fish supplements, we recommend visiting your nearby vet as soon as possible.

Reasons Your Dog Smells Like Fish 

Are you concerned about the sudden fish-like stench coming from your dog? Don’t worry; we’ve got you covered. We know how important it is to find out the origin of this stench coming from your dog. If you can figure out the cause behind this issue, you can easily tackle this problem.

Here are some of the common causes behind the fish-like stench from your dogs and how you can take care of it –

1.    If Your Dog Has Bad Breath Like Fish  

Unless you regularly brush your dog’s teeth, there’s a high reason that your dog’s mouth will stink to some extent. But if it’s nothing to be concerned about, there won’t be anything peculiar about it. 

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It might stink putrid or more like the meals it’s had throughout the day. So, if you find your dog breathing out a bad odor, there’s a chance that your dog is suffering from a dental problem or a gastrointestinal problem. 

  • Dental Problem 

One of the most common reasons why your canine friend has fish-smelling breath is because of a dental problem. Dogs are strong chewers, and most dogs love to chew their meal aggressively.

They even prefer chewing on hard toys, and as a result, they develop serious damage to the teeth and the surrounding structures. Teeth damage gives rise to periodontal disease, which can cause further decay of the tooth. 

Possible signs that your dog has periodontal disease are fish-like breath, swollen gums, and hard yellowish tartar adhering to the teeth.

In most cases, when the inflammation gets worse, your dog can experience severe pain. Periodontal disease is a serious issue and needs to be addressed immediately. So, if you suspect a dental problem in your dog, it’s best to go to a vet urgently.

Apart from periodontal disease, your dog can get fish-like exhalation from a dental abscess as well. In this condition, your dog can also experience a dry nose.

  • Gastrointestinal Problems 

Another common problem that dogs suffer from on a frequent basis is gastrointestinal issues. This is also a reason behind fish-like exhalation.

Some of these gastrointestinal problems include acid reflux disorder, food intolerances, or allergies to specific food components.

In acid reflux disorder, the sphincters controlling the passage of food from the esophagus to the stomach lose their tone. As a result, there are symptoms that include regurgitation of ingested substances, abnormal poop, excess salivation, and frequent burping.

The burping causes a putrid stench from respiration. This is a matter of concern for dog owners and needs to be discussed with a veterinarian as early as possible.

In case of intolerance or allergy to any meal, your dog is unable to digest anything properly. This can lead to indigestion, vomiting, constant burping, and ultimately bad respiration. If your dog is suffering from this issue, switch to a diet that does not contain any of the allergic constituents.

2.    If Your Dog’s Butt or Anal Gland Region Smells Like Fish  

When people complain that their dog smells bad, in the majority of cases, this smell comes from their anal gland or backside. If the source of this smell in your pet is from their rear side, then it’s likely to be a disorder of the anal gland.

  • Anal Sac Disease 

The common anal gland-related disorder in dogs that produce a putrid smell is anal sac disease. In this disease, your dog’s butt bears characteristically fishy reek.

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Anal glands are situated within the anus bearing yellow or grayish malodorous fluid. These fluids are released during defecation and when the dogs are going through stress or are scared.

Sometimes these glands can rupture due to an underlying disease condition, constipation, etc. In such conditions, the dogs suffer from scooting, anal swelling, and even bleeding per anal canal. It can also cause a bad odor coming from the butt area. This condition requires urgent consultation from a vet.  

  • Anal Gland Tumor 

Another cause behind the fishy stench coming from the dog’s rear is an anal gland tumor. In this condition, your dog can experience problems like scooting, blood from the anus, painful defecation, and even indigestion.

Bad reek is also a common symptom in this condition. We recommend visiting your vet for this condition and discussing the possible treatment methods. Most of the tumors can subside by medication unless it is a malignant one. In malignant cases, surgery is the only option.

3.    If Your Dog’s Urine Smells Like Fish

When your dog smells bad, the source may also be a urinary tract disorder. In this case, the smell comes from its urine, and it stays like a pungent smell throughout the day.

Common urinary tract diseases that result in a bad urine smell are infections in the urinary tract, kidney stones, bladder abnormalities, and even cancers. In the case of male breeds, there may be prostate abnormalities which can also result in bad urine smell.

In urinary tract infection, apart from a bad stench, there may be pain associated with passing urine and even redness in the area. In case of stones and other abnormalities, there may be poor urinary stream and straining. You can also notice blood passing through the urine if there is suspected cancer.

If you notice any of these symptoms in your pet, visit a vet and start the treatment as early as possible.

4.    If Your Dog’s Skin and Ears Smell of Fish

If you think that the bad stench is coming from the skin and the ears, then the likely assailant is a yeast infection. Yeast infections are common infections that take place in a dog.

Dogs have a huge number of bacteria and yeast within their skin tissues, and due to some conditions, if the number of yeasts multiplies aggressively, it indicates an infection.

Yeast grows in warm and moist places of the dog’s body which is why they are predominant in the skin and ear region. Symptoms of yeast infection include yellow discharge from the ears, bad reek from the ears, and itching in some cases. 

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5.    If Your Female Dog Smells Bad

When your female pet has a bad stench going on, the most probable cause is vaginitis. Vaginitis is an infection in the vaginal area of female dogs that can cause foul-smelling vaginal discharge, licking of the area, and associated urinary problems. The vagina can become red and inflamed if kept untreated for a long time.

How to Help Your Dog Smell Good?

If you’re a pet parent, you know how awful it can get dealing with a stinky smell from dogs. Although you can’t treat medical disorders without the help of a vet, you can still take care of your dogs in many ways.

Here are some ways you can prevent bad odor coming from your dogs: 

Maintaining Oral Hygiene Helps with Fish Smell

One of the best ways to prevent periodontal disease and other dental problems is by regular brushing. Use toothbrushes with soft bristles and toothpaste that are dog-friendly.

You can also try mouthwashes specifically designed for canines to fight against bad breaths. Bad breath due to dental problems can also be prevented by using dental supplements.

Another preventive measure for fishy dog breath is to clean your dog’s teeth thoroughly. Sometimes, food material may be stuck in the dog’s teeth for a long time, and brushing cannot cure it. This is why cleaning the teeth can help in preventing any dental abscess or adherence of tartar to the teeth.

Taking Care of Dog Diet Fights Fishy Breath

Diet is an important factor as an allergic and poor diet can lead to a fishy stench. Most dogs suffer from alimentary tract issues which give rise to bad fishy breath.

To prevent this, try to provide your dog with a balanced diet rich in nutritious components. Also, try to avoid feeding food supplements to your dog that is allergic to your pets.

Regular Grooming Can Control Fishy Smell

Another important measure you can take to fight fishy breath is by regularly grooming your pets. This is important for your dog breeds with long hair. Ticks and fleas are common inhabitants of the dog’s hairy coat.

They can cause different skin infections and ear infections which can result in fishy stench from the dogs. You should also clean your dog’s ears with a clean cotton ball every week.