Why Does My Dog Smell Like Fish?

why does my dog smell like fish.

Why Does My Dog Smell Like Fish?

Dogs are notorious for giving off pretty unpleasant aromas. They enjoy rolling in the most pungent of places, which leads to "weird" whiffs for their owners. A fishy odor has to be one of the worst a dog has ever given out, prompting the question, why does my dog smell like fish?

Even crazier, if your dog hasn't even been near a fish, how is it possible they nonetheless manage to smell like one? There are numerous potential causes.

fish smell from dog.

Why Do Dogs Smell Like Fish?

A dog's fishy odor might be a symptom of another condition and impact various body areas. Significantly, the smell frequently emanates from your pet's mouth, skin, urine, and excrement, among other places.

In most cases, this is due to one of the following causes.

Anal Gland Inflammation

Anal glands or sacs on either side of the anus provide the unpleasant odor your dog uses to promote their scent. In scared dogs, some of this anal gland secretion, which is entirely natural, may be produced and have an off-putting odor. If this persists, the issue can become more serious.

An infection of the anal sac is common in dogs, significantly smaller breeds. They become blocked or obstructed due to inflammation in their tubes, causing pain. Plus, your dog's glands and potentially the abdomen could swell.

Your dog may have difficulty defecating, and the illness is commonly accompanied by painful, tight anal glands, a strong fishy odor, and other symptoms.

Yeast Infection

Especially in dogs with loose skin, like Bulldogs, the fishy odor emanating from your dog may result from some type of yeast infection. Dead skin cells and yeast can build up in these skin folds, giving off an unpleasant, fishy smell.

The ears, the eyes, and the spaces between your dog's toes can all develop yeast infections. Although reducing the number of carbs in your dog's food will help, the best cure is a thorough bath in warm water with a dog shampoo explicitly designed for the job.

If a female dog smells bad, it can be the cause of them frequently experiencing vaginal yeast infections.

Garbage Digging

Another cause of the smell of fish from the mouth is usually, but not always, on the street, during walkies. Some four-legged friends love to eat garbage or other leftovers. These are primarily curious dogs.

Of course, if the waste contains fish or seafood, these dogs will smell from the mouth. Countless combinations aren’t fish but smell very similar. None of this is desirable, not only because of the bad breath. Waste also considerably increases the risk of an upset stomach or parasite infestation.

Dental Problems

Lousy fishy breath can often be due to their teeth. Many dogs have problems with their canines due to misalignment, tartar, or injuries.

Unfortunately, a rotten tooth is an open invitation for all sorts of germs — food residue gets caught in the tooth pockets and other gaps, which causes constant bad breath. Bacteria multiply as a result, and make the stench even more intense.

Dogs can’t tell you they have a toothache, so it’s easy to miss it. The infection often migrates to other body parts, e.g., the eyes.

Liver and Kidney Diseases

The liver and kidneys are among the most critical metabolic organs. For example, they break down pollutants and thus ensure the body's detoxification.

If the functions are disturbed, toxins brew up and also encroach into the airways. Typical aromas are, for example, a sweet smell, ammonia, or the smell of urine from the mouth. The latter, in particular, reminds many dog owners of fish.

In the case of metabolic diseases, other symptoms also occur. Affected canines are often very thirsty and urinate in large quantities. Weight loss, digestive problems, or sedentary behavior are other indications of such an organic disease.

Skin Issues

A fish smell from dog doesn’t always have to come from the mouth; sometimes, the fur smells terrible — even if the dog stays clean.

The main reason for this is that your four-legged friend doesn't sweat like a human. They have sebaceous glands (located directly beneath the skin) that protect their skin and coat from moisture, cold, and pathogens. These glands produce sebum, which can have a very foul smell.

Since the scents are different, fishy odors can also be among them. Water dogs such as Retrievers or Cocker Spaniels are particularly affected.

Intestinal Diseases and Parasitic Infestations

When a dog’s bum smells like fish, it can result from indigestion or intestinal disease. Most of the time, this can affect the feces of your four-legged friend.

The main reason for this is that what's eaten cannot be fully processed. Hence, the feces isn’t entirely digested and therefore smells different. In some cases, endoparasites such as worms and giardia also play a role in causing a smelly discharge from dogs.

Uterine Inflammation 

Sometimes the dog's urine stinks of fish. In female animals, this is occasionally due to an inflammation of the uterus. A bacterial infection typically causes it, so it often occurs at the end of heat when the cervix closes again.

A pyometra manifests itself primarily in purulent discharge — pus-containing fluid. At the same time, affected female dogs often urinate significantly more, with the typical fishy stench. Other symptoms include fever, lethargy, diarrhea, and vomiting.

Such inflammations are dangerous and can even end in fatal sepsis.

Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)

On the other hand, both sexes can be affected by a urinary tract infection (UTI). It’s generally down to a bladder infection mainly caused by bacteria — a dog smells like fish, in this case, is one of the signs.

Bacteria get into the urinary tract from the dog's feces, for example, and sometimes they also get into the urinary tract through their own blood — for instance, due to a kidney infection. Affected dogs drink more, have problems urinating, are lethargic, and sometimes, canines also have a fever.

Their urine could also be dark, if it contains blood. The unusually intense smell of the remains is another vital clue to a urinary tract infection, and it usually smells like fish.

my female dog smells like fish.

How To Get Rid of Fishy Smell From Dog

If a dog smells strongly of fish, this is only normal if it was on their menu for the day. Otherwise, the aroma suggests a health problem, so you should definitely investigate the cause.

Other symptoms you observe can help with the self-diagnosis. If your pooch has a yellowish discharge in addition to urine, there is a lot to be said for a uterine infection. On the other hand, problems with chewing are primarily a sign of dental disease.

Depending on the cause, a different solution is possible. Many pet lovers have had success with the following strategies.

Review Your Pooch’s Diet

If your dog stinks from the mouth because of fishy food, change what they’re eating. Instead of salmon, switch to another form of protein, like poultry, beef, or game meat.

Strong-smelling supplements become more or less odorless when you administer them in capsule form, as these are usually only opened in the stomach. 

However, if a feed intolerance or allergy comes into play, choosing an alternative takes work. It’s best to select an exceptionally well-tolerated hypoallergenic dog food.

Bathe Your Dog

When your dog's body stinks, bathing it constantly helps — correct?

Not entirely — If the sebum-producing glands are responsible for the fishy smell, going into the tub can even be counterproductive. While your dog doesn't smell in the short term, but in the long term, things will look, I mean smell, different again.

In the worst case, too much hygiene can lead to skin infections. The animal then suffers, and the pong becomes even worse.

In this situation, bathing is your best bet, not only because of your dog but also to prevent contamination in your home, so give your dog a bath, but not too regularly. It's crucial to use a shampoo that is gentle/natural and not abrasive to the skin.

Regular Grooming

Regular grooming can also help against your dog's own stench. Shaggy dogs with matted fur are very susceptible to bacterial or fungal infections. Long-haired dogs should, therefore, at least be brushed regularly.

A breed-appropriate haircut also helps to keep your four-legged friend fresh, and it’s also easier to spot and fight parasites such as fleas or ticks.

Keep a Better Eye on Your Four-Legged Friend

In many cases, it helps to be more careful. For example, if you always walk your bow-wow on a leash, you can immediately intervene if they begin to eat garbage or roll over in something unsavory.

What’s more, it’s worth keeping things tidy in your own home or garden, so that your dog cannot raid your trash can, or dig in your flowerbeds. 

Encourage Your Pooch to Drink 

If your dog’s urine smells like fish, it’s advisable to let your four-legged friend drink plenty of H2O. This isn't just because dogs with inflammation are particularly thirsty — it also helps them fight the infection.

Drinking more water will mean more frequent urination, which flushes out bacteria. Furthermore, a well-filled bowl helps against dehydration and, if your pooch has an elevated temperature –– also reduces fever.

Dental Care

A fishy smell from the mouth is often due to poor oral hygiene. Prevention is the best course of action, namely through intensive dental care.

For many dogs, a tooth-friendly chew bone will help. Other four-legged friends benefit more from proper tooth brushing with a doggy toothbrush and toothpaste. What’s more, switching from wet to dry food can make sense if your pooch is prone to tartar.

Regular inspection of the mouth is also vital in this context. Most vets recommend checking once a week to see if everything is still in order. In this way, you can spot broken teeth or infections. Plus very aggressive tumors in the mouth area can be immediately recognized and dealt with.

how to get rid of fishy smell from dog.

Consult the Vet

Unfortunately, there will be situations when you can only take limited action against the causes of a fishy smell in dogs. In these instances, seek professional help and go to a veterinary practice if the situation persists. 

Possible scenarios where a vet would be needed:

  • UTI — may require antibiotics.
  • Dental issues — teeth extraction, or antibiotics for an infection.
  • Liver and kidney disease — vet assessment and treatment dependent on severity of condition. 
  • Anal gland complications — possible treatments include — manual emptying, antibiotics, etc.

You are lucky in misfortune because, on the whole, the causes aren’t acutely life-threatening. However, the course of the condition could quickly turn for the worse, so it’s advisable you make an appointment for your four-legged friend immediately.

If a dog smells strongly of fish, this is only normal if it was on their menu for the day. Otherwise, the aroma suggests a health problem, so you should definitely investigate the cause.

Other symptoms you observe can help with the self-diagnosis. If your pooch has a yellowish discharge in addition to urine, there is a lot to be said for a uterine infection. On the other hand, problems with chewing are primarily a sign of dental disease.

Depending on the cause, a different solution is possible. Many pet lovers have had success with the following strategies.


Let’s recap. 

To start with, make sure your pooch hasn't been through the trash! Once you're certain the issue is unrelated to the tin of anchovies, determine whether the stench is coming from the butt, the mouth, or somewhere else, and keep an eye out for any additional symptoms. 

Furthermore, you should keep in mind that while there are many things you can do to reduce the whiff, some problems can only be treated with assistance from your vet. So, now you know why does my dog smell like fish? — go check on your best buddy.
dog smells like fish.

Why Does My Dog Smell Like Fish FAQs

Why Does My Dog Suddenly Smell Fishy?

Abnormalities mainly cause fishy odors in dogs with anal sacs, but they can also indicate dental problems, digestive disorders, or infections. Dogs have tiny glands on either side of their anus that release a liquid with a characteristic scent that makes them easy to identify by other canines.

How Do I Get Rid of the Smell of Fish on My Dog?

Consult your vet if you detect a fishy odor. The stench in your dog could just need to be eliminated by manually emptying or expressing their anal glands. Some exceptionally tiny dog breeds need their anal glands expressed regularly.

What Do Dog Glands Smell Like?

There are two little sacs paired with the name, anal glands — found on your dog’s anus. These glands' lining cells secrete a distinctive oily secretion that smells fishy and metallic. You might think of this scent as being unique to your pet.

How Do You Tell if Your Dog’s Glands Are Swollen?

Along with scooting, other indications that your dog has an anal gland issue include a fishy or foul odor, excessive licking of the behind, discomfort when standing or sitting, straining to urinate, and redness or swelling close to the rear end.

What Happens if You Don’t Express Dog Glands?

The anal glands must be cleansed otherwise they may become impacted, form an abscess, and burst, creating a stinky, bloody, and agonizing disaster. This could be a recurring problem or one that only lasts for a short while, such as when you experience a bout of diarrhea.