Why does my dog smell like fish?

Dogs are supposed to smell pleasant if they are well taken care of, and groomed from time to time. A dog’s smell sometimes depends on what they eat and what diets they have.

If your dog suddenly smells stinky and you know you are bathing and grooming them, you should investigate why it is so. If your dog acquires a fishy smell, an anal-sac infection may be the cause. Anal-sacs are the two small glands found on your dog’s rectum, and they can become impacted and infected.

Why does my dog smell like fish?
Why does my dog smell like fish?

When the anal-sacs become impacted it will cause severe pain for your dog, and there is an extremely foul smell that the anal-sacs release when this happens. Dog owners describe the smell as fishy and repulsive. When a dog has impacted anal-sacs, they will smell so bad that not any amount of bathing or grooming will help. How do you know if your dog has an impacted anal-gland?

Excessive chewing or licking of their behind

You will notice your dog trying to lick and chew on his behind as he’s trying to relieve himself of the pain and the itchiness. It is highly discomforting to your dog, and they will try to do such action often.


When your dog suddenly scoots and drags his bottom on the floor or rubs his behind on the floor, there is a big chance that he has impacted anal-glands. A dog will scoot his behind as he tries to make the itchiness go away, and you will also hear them making a grunting sound as if they are in pain.

Stain Trail on the Floor

You will see a stain trail on the floor, and this stain may smell like rotting fish or feces. This stain is the noticeable cause of the color of the discharge, which is usually brown, at the same time, it has an offensive smell.

Not their usual self

Your dog will not be as happy doing what he usually loves. He will not be playing with other dogs and will just be lying around moping. This is because something is bothering him, and they will not relax until the infection of the anal-glands gets treated.


When your dog suddenly doesn’t want to play with you and will growl when you attempt to touch his behind, he may be feeling the pain. They will also be reluctant to go out or take a walk and would not do anything or not move at all.

Difficulty defecating

It is another side effect of having impacted anal-glands in dogs cause they will have difficulty doing their business when it is time. You will notice your dog walking in circles as if they want to poop but will again stop and not poop at all.

Loss of appetite

It is also usual when a dog is not feeling their usual self. He would have no interest in food. When under the weather and if something is bothering him, you will see him sleeping often.

The swollen area near the anus

There is a noticeable bump on his rear, and this is the pouch that may contain the abscess on his anal-glands.

A yellowish, reddish discharge near their anus

They likened the fluid that is discharged to a boil that pops and has a yellow, pus-like color. This is the pus collected on your dog’s infected anal-glands.

How to remove the fishy smell from your dog

A light impaction in dogs can be relieved by expressing the glands. The owner can do it if it is still not severe or infected. When you are emptying your dog’s anal-sac, you must wear a latex glove and prepare a warm cloth to be used to wipe the anus during the extraction.

Use gentle pressure on your dog’s anus and press the four and eight o’clock points in your pet’s anus. Applying a firm pressure is crucial cause you don’t want to surprise or add to the discomfort of your dog when you apply forceful pressure.

Ensure that you have the cloth ready so the smelly fluid being distracted will not spray everywhere. Wipe your dog’s anus with the cleaning solution and give them a treat or a reward after.

Severe infection of your dog’s anal-gland will need a check-up from the vet cause they will provide the treatment and management of the anal-sac problems in your dog.

The vet will also prescribe some antibiotics to fight off infection and clean the impacted anal-glands thoroughly. Pain medication may also be provided, as well as meds to stop the swelling and inflammation.

An examination may be required for your dog to check if the anal-gland impaction is recurring. The vet or yourself can do the examination. For frequently recurring anal-sac impaction the vet may recommend surgical removal of your dog’s anal-sacs.

Sometimes chronic impaction of the anal-sac only has one solution, which is surgery. This must be discussed with the vet, so you’ll know what is best for your dog.

What is the Recovery for Dogs with Impacted Anal-Glands?

If your dog is prone to have affected anal-glands, then it will just recur during its lifetime. The ducts that lead out to the sac become more degraded and bring about recurrence. Dogs who have this issue may have a chronic impaction of the anal-glands, and surgery may be the next solution. Your vet will advise you on what you need to do and will give you time to observe if your dog will again have impacted anal-glands. After due observation and it recurs, then the vet may advise surgery.

Extraction is another treatment if you don’t want your dog to have the surgery. After every expelling of the anal-sac glands, there may be swelling and pain in your dog but can be relieved with a warm compress on the area.

How to prevent anal-sac disease in your pet

Provide a balanced diet

There should be a balanced diet for your dog. Provide balanced foods that have fiber and, at the same time, ensure they have their fill of water.

Exercise your dog

A fifteen to thirty-minute walk is ideal for your dog and will prevent your dog from being overweight. A daily dose of exercise will also help control anal-sac disease as obesity is also a high risk for this disease.

Check your dog’s stool

You should observe your dog’s stool now and then and if it is well-formed. It should not be too soft nor too hard as this can also be a risk to cause an anal-sac impaction.

Provide clean and fresh water that is accessible

Always have clean water that your dog can access so they will always enjoy drinking their water ration. Do not let a day go by without filling or changing your dog’s water container or vessel with a clean one.

Dogs can also have some smell emanating from them, and this has different reasons as well.

Ear infections

An infected ear will also cause your dog to smell stinky. Some dogs with floppy ears paired with clumping hair have the most ideal place for bacteria to grow. Sometimes a dog has a hormonal imbalance, or there is a yeast infection causing them to produce a certain offending smell. Ears are also sometimes left with some moisture after bathing, and this can cause bacteria to thrive inside.


Food allergy can cause skin inflammation in your dog and will cause some oil secretion that has a certain smell and is also considered stinky or musty. When dogs are not given the proper diet, they can have skin problems that may lead to infections. When this infection is not treated fast, their skin can moisten, and this is where the smell will start to emanate. Have them checked by the vet so that the proper diet will be recommended and will be provided the treatment.

Dental Problems

Dogs, just like humans, can also have tartar and plaque on their teeth. It causes their breath to smell awful as their gums are infected. Their teeth may also loosen over time. The rotten smell that their mouth will produce is due to their unclean teeth and no daily brushing or scheduled brushing of your dog’s teeth.

Your dog requires a scheduled cleaning of their teeth to ensure that they will not have tartar or plaque that will lead to loosening teeth and eventual teeth removal.

The vet will be able to clean your dog’s mouth from time to time if you are having a hard time brushing your dog’s teeth. There are also pet chews or dental treats that you can provide to your dogs if they are not fond of getting their teeth brushed.


Although you may not hear your dog expelling gas, believe that they do. This is often caused by the food they eat or when intolerant of some ingredients mixed with their food. The ideal food for your dog is a grain-free and fish-based diet to solve this problem.

The excessive expelling of gas maybe something else, and there may be an underlying medical condition that must be addressed. The vet must check what is causing such excess in expelling gas by your dog and especially when the smell is so stinky and foul.

Poor grooming

When your dog’s fur is not getting the grooming required, their fur can be too oily, and this causes your dog to smell. Your pet needs a scheduled brushing and combing of hair to remove dirt and grime in their fur. When this is not done often, it can lead to matting and dirtying of their coat.

Tick and Fleas

Another culprit that may cause your dog to emit a foul odor is tick and fleas. Parasitic infestation causes your dog to smell as well. Flea allergy dermatitis causes skin issues in your dog, and it is not just your dog getting malodorous.

How to remove the fishy smell from your dog?

After the treatment is done to your dog’s anal-gland impaction, you need to schedule cleaning time.

Prepare a deodorizing dog shampoo and wet your dog’s fur. Shampoo his fur thoroughly and make sure that every part is washed.

Some dog owners who have stinky dogs add apple cider vinegar to the dog’s rinse. The apple cider vinegar is diluted with the right amount of water and then used to massage the dog’s fur and rinse every part of the dog with it. Be careful in the eye area.

After using the apple cider vinegar mixture and rinsing the dog for three to five minutes, rinse the dog again with water carefully. Dry your dog with a clean towel, and you can either dry him naturally or use a blow dryer to dry his coat.

Sprinkle some deodorizing powder on his paw, head, and his entire body. Rub it specifically in the area where the smell is powerful. Brush the excess powder after.

Check his ears for any smell as well and use topical drops to remove such smell. The vet will prescribe the appropriate topical drops for smelly dog ears.

Another smell you need to remove may be his oral smell. You can start focusing on his dental health as well by brushing his teeth or giving him dental treats. Dental treats can help remove any smell from a dog’s mouth and, at the same time, clean their mouth from tartar and plaque.

Inspect other parts of your dog’s body and check his skin. If there are bumps or redness on his skin, you may need to address this issue. Bumps and redness can also cause some itchiness to your dogs, and if your dog starts scratching their skin, this can lead to irritation and infection eventually. When there is an infection, the skin can also be at risk of smelling, and this must be treated at the soonest possible time by the vet.

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