Rachel is a stay-at-home pet mom, caring for her dog, cat, turtle, tortoise, and fish. She's a content writer in various niches but most notably in the pet field, educating pet parents on the health and wellbeing of their furry friends. When she's not writing, she's reading, playing video games, or organizing something.
Health Learn About Dogs Raising a Dog

Why Does My Dog Smell Like Fish?

Rachel Poli Author
Jul 20 ·

All dogs can have an odor once in a while. Whether they roll in something they shouldn’t have, or they’re a dog breed prone to being a bit smelly. But why does my dog smell like fish?

This fish smell is more common than you’d think, and there are many reasons why your dog can smell like fish. It’s common and totally normal, but there are some cases where it means there’s an underlying condition. So, how can you tell the difference?

why does my dog smell like fish?

Why does my dog smell like fish?

First, let’s talk about some of the harmless ways your dog might smell. One reason could depend on your dog’s breed. For example, some breeds have coats that are more oily than other breeds. Retrievers, for instance, have oily coats that may produce an odor. But, on the other hand, Boston Terriers don’t produce much oil on their skin, so they may not smell.

In addition, if your dog has wrinkles, such as an English Bulldog, then the folds may produce a smell. The skin can collect yeast in the folds, which can cause an odor. This is why it’s important to keep your dog’s skin folds clean.

What are anal glands?

A huge reason why dogs smell like fish may be because of their anal glands or anal sacs. Small sacs are on both sides of a dog’s anus. They’re filled with an unpleasant smell, which serves as a scent marker when your dog relives themselves. In addition, the smell is passed through your dog’s stool to let other dogs and animals know they’ve been there.

Your dogs can express their anal glands when they’re scared, overly excited, or lie down in a certain position and accidentally open them up. This is normal, and you’ll want to have a veterinarian or professional groomer express their anal glands once in a while so that the glands don’t become too full.

However, if your furry friend has a fishy odor about them regularly, then there might be something else going on.

What is anal sac disease?

Anal Sac Disease is an issue that commonly occurs in smaller dogs. Sometimes, their sacs can become impacted. This happens when your dog’s anal glands aren’t emptied. If they have a soft stool, then their glands won’t express properly, thus causing issues.

In addition, they can become infected and abscessed. This is painful for your pooch and, if left untreated, it can rupture through the skin. Finally, your dog may have an anal sac tumor. This happens when the gland doesn’t express at all and becomes enlarged and firm. Your vet may need to do an ultrasound to see what’s going on.

why does my dog smell like fish?

Symptoms to watch out for

It’s pretty cute when your dog scoots their butt across the floor, but this is actually a symptom of them being uncomfortable or even in pain. If their anal sacs are irritated, they may scoot across the floor, lick at their anus, or have trouble pooping. They might even have blood or pus in their stool when they do go. If you notice any of these symptoms, call your veterinarian right away.

If your dog is obese, has allergies, hypothyroidism, skin mites, or skin yeast infections, then they may be more prone to having infections in their anal glands. 

How to prevent the fishy smell

Your dog’s anal glands might need to be expressed, so there might be something else going on. So, how do you prevent any of this from happening?

First, ensure that your dog is getting plenty of exercises and you’re keeping an eye on their weight. In addition, give your doggo plenty of fresh, clean water throughout the day.

Your dog’s diet is key to preventing this as well. A good diet of fiber will help keep your dog regular. When they go to the bathroom, make sure their stool looks well-formed and normal.

Luckily, if your pooch has issues with its anal glands, it’s easy to treat. Just be sure to get in touch with your vet right away so your doggo won’t be uncomfortable or in pain for long. 

What if my dog smells like fish in some other way?

As mentioned earlier, dogs can smell like fish for a few reasons. Sometimes you can pinpoint where the fish smell is coming from.

For example, if you only notice the smell when your dog is urinating, that might signify that they have a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI). If that’s the case, then call your veterinarian to get your doggo checked out. Your dog may be put on antibiotics to clear it up.

If your dog’s breath smells like fish, then there could be other underlying conditions. We should all be brushing our dog’s teeth regularly. This will prevent any bad breath odors and keep their teeth, gums, and overall mouth healthy and clean. However, not everyone keeps up with brushing their dog’s teeth, which can cause issues later.

If your dog’s breath smells like fish, this could be a sign of periodontal disease, kidney disease, or diabetes. These are all more reasons to call your vet to get your pooch checked out, just in case.

why does my dog smell like fish?

If your dog smells like fish, it might be time for a check-up with the vet

So, there are many reasons a dog can smell like fish. Sometimes it might just be the dog breed, and they need to be groomed regularly. Other times, it’s a sign that something else is going on.

Make sure your doggo visits the vet at least once or twice a year for regular check-ups. Also, bring your pet to a professional groomer once in a while. They’ll be able to check over your dog and keep them clean and healthy.

Similar reading: more info on dog health

Rachel Poli Author
Rachel is a stay-at-home pet mom, caring for her dog, cat, turtle, tortoise, and fish. She's a content writer in various niches but most notably in the pet field, educating pet parents on the health and wellbeing of their furry friends. When she's not writing, she's reading, playing video games, or organizing something.
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