Why does my dog... smell?
Contrary to popular belief, dogs don't have to smell like dogs. In fact, there are many man made errors that cause our dogs to smell more or worse than they should, which we may be committing without even realising.
If you bathe your dog at home, it can be awfully difficult to get it right, managing and handling your dog, as well as thoroughly washing, rinsing out products and drying them off are all nigh on impossible without the proper equipment, tools and experience.
Leaving your dog wet or even damp, potentially with shampoos or products improperly rinsed out can release smelly compounds and allow yeast and bacteria, that lie dormant and relatively odour free when dry, to fester. Matted and unbrushed hair can also harbour dirt, dampness and debris which will in time hamper your dog's freshness, particularly with improper coat maintenance following and between regular wet and muddy walks.
Proper dog grooming is essential for keeping them clean, healthy and hygienic, and the very basics of proper washing, brushing and drying are better left to your professional groomers who can execute the job perfectly every single time. Ask at your next appointment for at home tips and tricks to see them and you both through between visits.
THEY'VE GOT BAD BREATH
A foul or particularly strong odour from your dog's mouth is not the norm, and if your dog's kisses are leaving an awful smell behind, there could be something bigger at play.
A tooth or gum infection can cause a very unpleasant smell, and can be caused by poor oral hygiene, lack of "brushing", built up sediment or residue or even pieces of old food stuck in the teeth.
Kibble and dry foods leave an awful lot of residue in the mouth due to their dry and powdery nature. Much like humans eating biscuits, dogs are left with compacted kibble on, in and between their teeth following each meal, the likes of which are not left behind in a wet, fresh and raw diet.
You can help your dog to keep their teeth clean themselves by providing them with regular tough and hard chews for them to gnaw on after their meals, or even appropriate fresh and raw bones as part of their diet. Ultra long lasting horns and bones like Cow Horns or Lamb Horns, or smaller, single sitting chews like a Giant Pizzle or Hairy Cow Ear will provide the right amount of abrasion to brush away any remnants of food and keep their mouth clean, and your dog certainly won't protest against the tasty extras.
THEIR SKIN IS SUFFERING
Shorthair bulldog breeds, pugs, spaniels, or sharpie's are particularly prone to holding moisture, dirt and bacteria in the folds of their skin or beneath heavy, hairy ears, which are perfect environments for infections, skin irritations and conditions such as dermatitis.
Cleaning in these hard to reach places is particularly important, as they are often areas your dog can't do themselves. Keeping them clean and dry can be done at home or with regular topical appointments at your groomers, who will be able to monitor your dog's condition, notify you of any changes that need attention and best advise on the products and approaches to use.
Intolerances or allergies to their diet can cause skin to become enflamed, dry or damaged, and if the skin’s normal barriers are broken down by prolonged dampness, allergies, hormonal disorders, chronic itching, scratching or rubbing, it will begin to suffer. Feeding an appropriate diet that is chemical, additive, flavouring free will contribute to better skin health. Read the packaging of your dog's food, do you recognise and understand all of the ingredients? If not, your dog is ingesting unnecessary and potentially harmful unnatural ingredients on a daily basis which could be contributing to unpleasant smells they're emitting.
THEIR EARS NEED ATTENTION
Yeast infections in dogs' ears are very common, particularly prevalent in dogs with long and heavy ears that hang down, which do not benefit from air circulation and can stay damp for some time. Allergies and food intolerances can also amplify and even cause these ear infections, which can become particularly pungent, and it's often the case that you need to treat the allergy as a whole as well as the ear in isolation in order to get to the bottom of the issue.
THEIR DIGESTIVE SYSTEM IS SUFFERING
Enduring very strong smelling gas or poo is, believe it or not, not just a given when you become a dog parent. In fact, a healthy and happy poo is solid, with no overpowering foul odour, and even able to be picked up between two fingers, sometimes even turning to dust.
If your dog is generally fit and healthy, but doesn't form a particularly good or solid poo, it's highly likely your dog's diet needs some close attention. Processed foods that contain a lot of unnecessary, unhelpful and even indigestible ingredients will cause a lot of waste products that will emerge as very unpleasant poo. A clean and clear diet that doesn't aggravate your dog's guts, is biologically appropriate and the vast majority of which is absorbed by their digestive system along the way will produce much less poo in quantity (think just 1 poo per day) of much higher "quality"!
THEIR ANAL GLANDS NEED CHECKING
Anal glands are scent glands found in your dog’s rear end. They contain a strong smelling liquid that is used to mark territory, signalling who was where and when to other dogs passing by. When your dog poos, the pressure exerted on the glands by the sphincter as the stool passes squeezes the sacs and empties them, secreting the strong (rather foul) smelling gland liquid and allowing the dog to “mark” where they’ve just been.
When your dog's poo is soft (or even liquid), this often does not allow for enough pressure to be exerted on the glands for them to empty. This can cause them to fill, become infected or impacted which can be incredibly uncomfortable for your dog and very smelly for you to live with.
If you see that your dog’s anal glands need attention, you can in fact do this yourself at home, though it is not a task for the faint hearted and must come with a real warning - it can be messy, it can be tricky to do correctly, it can be met with resistance, and it will definitely be stinky. If you see that your dog’s bottom is very enflamed, bleeding or showing signs of pus or infection, do not attempt to address this yourself at home.
Your groomer will be able to check and empty your dog’s anal glands for you during their groom, which means they will also sanitise and clean the area afterwards to leave you with no residual smell, and also be able to advise you on any medical issues they feel might need further attention.
If your dog is suffering from very soft or liquid poos which are contributing to persistent anal gland issues, then take a look at what the perfect poo might look like and how you can achieve them, too!