Why do dogs smell like fish? Dogs can smell like a lot of things, and usually, these scents are not pleasant. Some are irrelevant, others are serious, and the third is intriguing. Why do dogs smell like fish? This is one of those questions that is far more complicated to answer than you may believe. There are a few reasons, and some are harmless while others are more serious. Below, you will see the real reasons why your pet smells like fish.
Reasons Why Your Dog Smell Like Fish
As we have mentioned, there is no simple answer to this question. There are multiple reasons. Below we are going to explain each one so you can inspect your dog and then understand why he smells like fish. Why do dogs smell like fish? Let’s find out.
The most common reason for this smell is a periodontal disease, which affects the structures that support the teeth of your pet. Over 84% of dogs will develop this disease before the age of 3! One of the side effects is that it smells like fish, and you can easily diagnose it yourself. You will have to lift the lips of your dog and inspect the teeth and gums. If tartar buildup is present on the teeth (yellow and brown) or your dog has puffy or red gums, periodontal disease is present. This disease is caused by inflammation or infection.
You will have to take your pet to a vet, and he will clean the teeth under anesthesia. Proper dental home care is also needed to prevent the disease from advancing. It is not an extremely severe disease, but it is mandatory to diagnose it as soon as possible.
Problem with Anal Glands
This is actually the most common reason for the fishy smell. In some cases, you can see this as the only reason. However, we know better. Anal glands are located inside the anus of your pet. All dogs have these. These are sacs, occasionally known as anal sacs, that contain special fluid. It can be thin and yellow or thick and grey. The anal glands will be expressed when your dog poops or he is scared.
The liquid inside the sacs smells like fish. If the sac is damaged and the liquid “escapes,” you can smell the fish, which is annoying. Keep in mind that if this is the case, the butt of your pet will smell like fish, not the mouth or any other part.
There are a lot of possible issues with anal glands in dogs, and there are not a lot of explanations. Many believe that obese dogs, those with diabetes, or those with improper diets are more likely to suffer from an issue like this. Diarrhea, constipation, and environmental factors can cause severe complications as well.
If you notice this, you will have to take your pet to a vet immediately. He will complete a rectal exam, and he will likely express the anal glands. In some rare cases, anal glands must be removed. Your vet has to prescribe a proper diet and even a weight-loss regimen if your dog is obese. Anal gland issues are extremely common in small and also dogs who are obese.
Don’t forget that your dog may smell like fish only when scared. This is another type, or better said, a sub-type, of complications caused by anal glands. Once again, you will need to take him to a vet immediately.
Urinary Tract Issues
Yes, it is possible that pee smells like fish. There is more than just one reason why this happens. First of all, the pee may smell like fish if your dog has a urinary tract infection, bladder cancer, or many other bladder disorders. It is important to add that if this is the cause of the problem, pee can also smell like something else. But, in all cases, it will be an annoying and foul-smelling scent.
Once again, you will have to take your pet to a vet. If that happens he will perform a urine test and usually urine culture. In most cases, he will also order an X-ray just to rule out cancer. An ultrasound of the stomach may be needed as well. Anyway, the treatments for most conditions that cause the issue are easy, simple, and very effective. Usually, there is no reason to worry about it.
Issues With The Digestive Tract
Dogs that are allergic to some foods will usually burp all the time and smell like fish. If this is the case, your vet will have to prescribe a hypoallergenic diet that will eliminate the risk of another issue.
Keep in mind that acid reflux can cause the same problem and the same symptom. In that scenario, special medications are needed to help your pet. If this is the cause, your dog will drool, lick his lips, and also gulp air all the time.
Issue with Vagina
This affects only female dogs, and the scent will come from the vagina. You can even see white and yellow discharges. The cause may be pyometra (this is an infection that affects the uterus), and it will require immediate surgery. This affects only dogs who were not spayed. Don’t forget that if the problem remains after the surgery, a small piece of the uterus may still be inside. It must be removed as well.
Yes, even skin diseases can cause a fishy smell. There are a few more causes here than we would like to see. In general, bacterial infection, fungal skin disease, dandruff, and also seborrhea can cause a bad smell. These are much less intensive than other issues we have covered above and they are harder to detect. In other words, you will notice a mild fishy smell. In most cases, you will only be able to notice them when you are really close to your pet.
Ear infection and also parasites that have infected the skin can cause these smells also. In rare cases, autoimmune skin secretions can cause a fishy smell as well. These are rare, but the smell is not mild!
Due to many variations, determining why your dog smells like fish if one of these reasons is present is difficult. We recommend you take your pet to a vet, and he will be able to tell you why this happened. Treatment and success of one will depend on the main cause of the problem. We can add that most treatments are very effective and are not complicated or expensive.
When Do You Need To Take Your Pet To A Vet?
When must I take him to the vet? What will he do? Hold your horses. In many cases, there is no need to take a dog to the vet, and even if you do, you will see nothing serious and get back home immediately. The main rule here is to follow the condition of your dog and investigate. If you see the issue lasting a few days, then you will have to take him to the vet.
The reason for the claim is that if you feed a dog a diet that contains fish, he will usually smell like fish. There is no need to take him to the vet if this is the cause. Once you stop feeding him fish, he will stop smelling like fish. as simple as that. Also, many of these issues and problems will resolve on their own, and as such, there is no need for veterinarian help.
But, if your dog has smelled fishy for a few days or you have noticed issues with teeth, anal glands, or pee, it is best to take him to the vet today. Vets are trained to diagnose the issue within seconds and to sort it out within minutes. Most dog owners won’t be able to do so by themselves. On the other side, you can perform an initial check by yourself and see if you find anything.
There are a few more things we would like to add. First of all, proper dental care of the teeth of your pet is mandatory. Regular brushing will protect your dog from countless issues and make sure his teeth are in perfect condition.
Expressing the anal glands of your dog on a regular basis is not recommended. There are a lot of complications that may occur. It is better to take him to a vet and solve the problem with a professional. Last but not least, there are a lot of products out there that are going to help you eliminate the fishy odor.
The Final Word
Why do dogs smell like fish? Well, now that you know all the reasons, you can perform the initial check yourself and determine if you should take your pet to the vet. If you believe there is a reason to be concerned, take him immediately. All of these problems are much easier to treat if they are detected as soon as possible. The treatment is far more effective and less severe as well.
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