As much as we love dogs, we will be the first to state that they aren’t always the best smelling animals. Sometimes a change of smell can initially feel welcome.
However, a change of smell when it comes to your dog could mean something more serious than them not having rolled in a dirty puddle today.
What parts of our dogs might start smelling differently? Well, the obvious place to start is with their breath (yes, this can change depending on what they’ve eaten, but those changes don’t last long).
If your dog’s urine or breath starts to smell like maple syrup then know that you are not alone. Many pet owners go through this situation throughout their lives.
The two main uses of sweet smelling urine are yeast infections and canine diabetes.
The second is very serious and if you are at all worried about your dog’s health then take them to their vet as soon as you can.
Please note that some breeds and most puppies naturally have sweet breath. Maple syrup smells aren’t always a bad thing. However, it is always best to talk to a vet whenever changes like this happen.
In this article, we are going to cover the three main causes of maple syrup urine and breath in dogs. Keep reading to find out more.
Why does my dog smell like maple syrup?
In the following section we are going to cover whether dogs can eat maple syrup, yeast infections, canine diabetes, a plant that makes your dog smell sweet, and whether dogs can develop maple syrup urine disease.
Can dogs eat maple syrup?
While maple syrup is not toxic or poisonous to dogs, we do not recommend feeding it to your dog. Maple syrup is incredibly high in sugar.
Just as it can in humans, excessive amounts of sugar can have some really bad effects on your dog’s health.
Excess sugar can lead to them developing canine diabetes, losing their teeth, and many other horrible side effects.
So, no you should not feed your dog maple syrup.
Dogs can get yeast infections in many different areas of their body. The infections give off slightly sweet smells:
- In their ears
- In their urinary tracts
- Between their paw pads
- In any skin folds
- On their bellies
- Around their armpits
- Under their collars
If your dog’s urine starts to smell like maple syrup it could be because they have a urinary tract infection.
The good news is that Yeast Dermatitis (also known as Yeast Infections) is fairly common in dogs and is really easy to treat.
If your dog has a compromised immune system or is on medication that suppresses it (like steroids) then they have a high chance of developing yeast infections during allergy season.
Bulldogs, Poodles, Dachshunds, and a few other breeds are more vulnerable to developing these kinds of infections.
Apart from the smell, what are some of the other symptoms of Yeast Infections in dogs?
- Ear infections
- Greasy fur
- Thick red skin around the area
- Fur loss
- Discharge – yellow, green, or milky, very sticky
- Flaky or crusty skin
If you notice any of the above symptoms you should book your pooch to see their vet. They will be able to diagnose the issue and recommend the safest treatment for your dog.
Yeast Infections are bacterial, therefore your dog will be prescribed antibiotics.
Depending on the location of the infection, there are many ways to treat a yeast infection. Easy to reach areas can be treated like a spray or a cream. If the infection is internal or in a more difficult place to reach, antibiotics can be given in different ways.
Antibiotic pills or suppositories can be given to your dog. They will only need one suppository, but they may have to take pills every day for around a fortnight. They may also be asked to take a liquid antibiotic – these will need to be given via syringe into their mouths.
To prevent them from developing another yeast infection, try to keep them cool in the summer. If they go into the water you should thoroughly dry them as soon as you can.
Please note that yeast infections can be a symptom of canine diabetes.
California Cudweed (did they eat any?)
Sweet smelling breath isn’t always bad news.
If you live in the area where California Cudweed (also known as Lady’s tobacco or Rabbit’s tobacco) then this might be the cause of your pup’s sweet scent.
California Cudweed is native to the West Coast of the USA. Although it can be found growing in many places around the country. This plant smells good to most dogs and they will often try to eat it.
Eating this plant will not only change the smell of their urine, but it will affect their breath and sometimes their coat too.
This plant is not toxic to dogs and the smell will soon pass.
The final common cause of your dog starting to smell like urine is a very serious one.
It is possible that if your dog’s urine starts to smell like maple syrup that they have canine diabetes – a disease fairly similar to the diabetes found in humans. . Another sign is if their breath starts to smell sweet as well.
If you are worried about this then you should take your dog to see their vet as soon as possible. They will be able to give you the advice you need to look after your dog.
Symptoms of Canine Diabetes (Early and Advanced)
Sweet breath or urine aren’t the only warning signs when it comes to canine diabetes. The more of these symptoms you are aware of the earlier you can catch the disease.
Here is a list of the most common symptoms of canine diabetes:
- Frequent infections – as we mentioned about yeast infections can be a symptom of canine diabetes. Canine Diabetes suppresses the immune system, making your dog more vulnerable to these types of infections.
- Excessive drinking – your dog will unknowingly want to balance out the change in their body’s chemistry. You may notice because of this they start drinking a lot more than they usually do. This is not exclusively a symptom of canine diabetes but it is one that you should pay attention to where possible.
- Increased urination – if your well behaved dog starts to urinate inside then you may need to cut them some slack. Particularly if that urination smells like maple syrup. If your dog is excessively drinking then they will need to pee more.
- Increase appetite with weight loss – just like with the disease in humans, dog’s bodies will start to crave more food as their blood sugar levels are out of sync with the rest of their bodies. Unfortunately, unlike humans dogs don’t know how to interpret these signals, they just think they’re hungry.
- Cloudy eyes – canine diabetes can lead to your dog developing cataracts in its eyes. This causes a cloud effect. Diabetes has a similar effect in humans, and many cases are spotted early because of appointments with opticians.
The dangers of Canine Diabetes
Why should you be worried about your dog showing signs of canine diabetes?
Well, canine diabetes can cause a lot of life altering side effects in your dog if left untreated for too long. If you are a dog owner, you will find it hard to read about these side effects and may want to ignore them.
But it is important that you educate yourself so you can give your dog the best life possible.
If the above symptoms go unchecked for too long then your dog will get sick. It is important for their health that you keep track of these symptoms and take them to the vet if you are concerned.
Untreated diabetes can lead to the following:
- Cataracts and blindness in your dog
- Swollen liver
- Kidney Failure
*Symptoms of Ketoacidosis include: rapid breathing, dehydration, lethargy, vomiting, or sweet-smelling breath. This is a life threatening illness in dogs.
This disease can be caused by a combination of things including stress or regular fasting, however, the most common cause is low insulin levels.
If you have a diabetic dog then you should keep ketone testings with you, and regularly test your dog’s urine – if they show any of the above symptoms. If they test positive for ketones then you will need to book them an emergency vet appointment immediately.
Long term symptoms of untreated advanced canine diabetes can include a complete change in your dog’s personality.
If you notice a change in their energy levels (most commonly decreased energy) then this can be a sign of advanced canine diabetes. If you notice that your dog is sleeping for a lot longer than usual or they stop wanting to chase their ball when they’re on a walk – contact your veterinarian.
They may try to stop eating altogether. At a certain point, the diabetes will stop increasing your dog’s appetite and start decreasing it.
And they may begin to vomit regularly. This is a sign that diabetes is starting to have a very negative effect on your dog’s body.
Another sign is that your dog begins to show symptoms of depression:
- Paw licking
- Drooping head
- Lack of joy in things they used to love
- Decreased appetite (although CD does increase appetite so you might not see this one)
- Excessive barking // stops barking completely
- Becomes very territorial and possessive
- Becomes very impatient
Treating Canine Diabetes and Caring for a Dog Suffering From It
When you talk to your vet about your concerns they will do a blood test on your dog. In the results of this test they will be looking for three things:
- Excessive glucose
- High liver enzymes
- Electrolyte imbalances
These levels will show your vet if your dog has diabetes and how much of an effect it has had on your dog’s body. They may want to do further tests after this.
The sooner the diabetes is diagnosed the better chance your pup will have at having a healthy life. The sad news is that once your dog has developed canine diabetes they will have to deal with it for the rest of their life. There is no reversing or curing it.
What can your vet do to treat your diabetic dog?
Most diabetic dogs will be prescribed daily insulin shots. It will be the owner’s responsibility to do this. However, the vet will show you how to do it. And you needn’t worry, these injections will soon become part of your dog’s regular life and they will not find it traumatic.
What can you do to help manage your dog’s symptoms?
There are two main things you can do as an owner of a diabetic dog to keep their life as pleasant as possible: adjust their diet and build a consistent exercise routine for them.
Your veterinarian will have a long list of recommendations for you on this topic. It may seem overwhelming at first but within a week or two it will become part of your routine.
This will be a high fiber diet paired with complex carbohydrates – as both of these things can absorb excess glucose from the bloodstream. It will also need to be rich in protein and low in fat.
Many brands make dog food catering specifically to diabetic dogs. Your vet will have a recommendation for which brand they think will be best for your dog.
Blood sugar levels rise and dip in a natural cycle throughout the day. This will be fairly consistent if your dog is fed at the same time every day.
When it comes to exercising a diabetic dog the most important thing is consistency. It will help them to burn off excess glucose. Exercise them at the same time every day.
Diabetic dogs benefit most from longer, low intensity walks. Rather than anything high passed. You may want to stop allowing them to chase after a ball on their walks.
Any concerns, call your vet
If you are at all worried about your dog’s health then take them to see their vet. It really is better to be safe than sorry.
Can dogs get maple syrup urine disease?
No, it is not possible for dogs to develop maple syrup urine disease. This disease is very rare in humans (only about 1 in every million people develop it).
The NHS describes the disease as the following:
“Maple syrup urine disease (MSUD) is a rare but serious inherited condition. It means the body cannot process certain amino acids (the “building blocks” of protein), causing a harmful build-up of substances in the blood and urine.”
If your dog’s urine smells like maple syrup then it is most likely due to canine diabetes. If the smell of their urine changes you should get them checked out by their vet.
If it isn’t diabetes it could be due to a yeast infection or because they have eaten some California Cudweed.