What's that smell...
We all know that “dog” smell. The one that you can whiff in the car, on their bed, on your hands after giving a pup a pat. Contrary to popular belief (and indeed common occurrence) dogs don’t have to smell bad. Just like our recent conversation on your dog’s poo and what it should be like, dogs, much like their deeds, don’t really need to smell at all.
The most important factor towards achieving healthy skin and coat is nutritional. If your dog is eating processed, poor quality, or species inappropriate food (ie. your food), these are all contributing factors towards an unpleasant smelling dog as a result of nutritional imbalance and your dog’s insides trying to cleanse from being full of what they shouldn’t be. Dogs who are fed ‘wet’ tinned food, dry kibble or both are much more prone to oily and smelly coats as a result of chronic dry, flaky, itchy and irritated skin. A raw food diet cuts out the rubbish from their diet and leaves them with meal times that contain only that which they need and can process. Coats become glossier, skin becomes healthier, and as their immune system improves, many recurrent skin issues and irritations also subside - and the upward cycle continues!
Regular grooming is a great help for skin and coat health irrespective of hair length and is imperative for both short and long coat breeds. Dogs’ skin is permeable to toxins and pollutants which can sit in their hair and be absorbed by the skin. It is wise to have your dog professionally groomed or washed once a month at least, with a full haircut for long haired breeds every 6 weeks at a minimum. Make sure your salon is using natural ingredients without anything artificial, harsh or chemical. K9 Anytime Grooming uses industry leading and natural based Barcelonian brand Artero exclusively, to make sure that our dogs' hair gets the quality and care we would give our own.
If you give your dog a bath at home or when you get in from a wet walk, make sure your dog is completely dry and don’t allow them to sit wet for long periods or “air dry”. A damp coat that has sat wet for a while will emit a stale and strong smell, and hair is likely to knot and tangle much easier without a proper washing and drying regimen.
With our long haired breeds, keeping them at a manageable length all year round is a sensible idea for keeping nasty smells at bay that can be difficult to find within their fluff. Long hair in ears can clog with wax and become a breeding ground for infection and bacteria - dogs with long ears that hang over are particularly susceptible to this due to lack of airflow, and so regular ear cleaning and/or plucking will help. Long hair around the mouth will cause similar issues, as bits of food build up, residue from whatever they’ve been sniffing(!) as well as persistent wet hair from drinking will provide a happy home to less than sweet smells.
In general, a long coat is more susceptible to holding onto smells (and pretty much anything else it comes into contact with...) Long hair will hold dirt, remnants of the morning walk, their dinner, your dinner, and various other bits and pieces that can become tangled up and lost in their locks. Matting and knotting can make checking on your pup’s skin health much more difficult, and this can become increasingly uncomfortable and even painful over time. Regular brushing and combing of coats of any length with the appropriate tools is a great way to keep their skin happy, well stimulated and circulated, as well as allowing you to physically inspect the condition of their skin and coat.
Oral hygiene is equally important, with shocking statistics of periodontal disease in up to 80% of dogs by the time they’re 2 years old. Bad diet, food and plaque build up on teeth and the myth fed to us by big brands that “crunchy kibble cleans teeth” mean our dogs dentures are in decay far beyond their years, and their breath bears the brunt of it. Fresh (not cooked!) bones and natural chews are a brilliant addition to your dog’s raw diet to keep them crunching away and the plaque and disease at bay.
A final offender for foul fumes is your dog’s anal glands. These are two small scent glands in your dog’s anus which are normally squeezed and emptied as faeces pass through. Persistently soft or even liquid poo means that there is insufficient pressure being exerted on the glands to empty them, and anal glands that become infected, can’t empty, or which secrete thicker fluid than normal are a cause for concern as well as very distinctly stinky. A raw diet will create the perfect poo, which passes the anal glands perfectly to ensure they are clear and clean at all times.
If your dog develops a new and particularly strong smell, this could be sign of an infection and will need medical attention right away. If your dog is chronically and strongly stinky, be sure to rule out any underlying health conditions with your vet from which this may be resulting.