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Why Does My Dog Stink Like Fish?

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Why does my dog stink like fish?

Owning a dog often comes with a variety of unpleasant smells, and one of the most obvious noted ones is the smell of fish.

There are a few things that could explain why this fishing odor is occurring, and some of these reasons may be more serious than others.

It can often be helpful to know when this fishy smell is a cause for concern, as you will be able to do something about it.

Knowing about the signs and symptoms of these conditions is the best place to start, as this will help you to identify the possible cause of the problem. 

More often than not, this is going to end with a quick trip to the vet, and hopefully, it will be an issue that can be solved in no time.

To find out more about why your dog is smelling like fish, just keep reading this article.

Why Does My Dog Stink Like Fish?

One of the most common reasons that can explain why your dog is smelling like fish is that there is something wrong with their anal glands.

We will explain some of the conditions that are associated with the anal glands below.

Anal Sac Disease

This is a term that is used to describe problems with the anal glands, and it is actually really common, especially in smaller dog breeds. Bigger dog breeds are not usually affected by this condition. 

Anal Gland Impactions

Under normal circumstances, your dog’s anal glands will naturally be expressed in small amounts when they poop.

However, sometimes, the anal sacs may not be completely emptied of fluid, and this fluid can then become dry and cause impaction.

Impacted anal sacs will not be able to express properly, which can become quite painful for your dog. 

The sacs can begin to feel hard to the touch and when they are untreated, it can lead to an abscess.

This can occur for many different reasons, like an abnormality in your dog’s anal sacs, or that they are producing softer stools, which are not firm enough to express the anal glands.

Obese dogs are also at a higher risk for this condition. Thankfully, it can be solved by a trip to the vet, who will be able to manually express their anal glands.

Infections and Abscesses

Something else that can occur in the anal glands is infection, which can also lead to abscesses if the infection is not treated.

Infected and abscessed anal sacs can be very painful, and the area might look to be discolored or swollen. If it is not treated, an abscess could rupture through the skin. 

Abscesses are something that needs to be treated as soon as possible, as they are very painful and can sometimes need surgery. The dog will also usually need to be put on antibiotics and pain medication. 

Anal Sac Tumors

Anal gland tumors will prevent your dog from being able to express their anal glands themselves, which can make the glands feel firm and enlarged.

Most of the time, anal sacs that have tumors will not express at all, and your vet may need to do a biopsy to diagnose the issue.

Why Does My Female Pug Smell Like Fish?

Pug smell like fishOne of the most common reasons why your pug smells like fish is that there is something happening with their anal glands.

One of the best ways to control this fishy smell is with their diet, as pugs are more commonly associated with this fishy odor.

A pug’s anal gland may discharge when they are scared or spontaneously, which will leave behind an awful smelling fishy odor. 

This discharge can then end up on your furniture and flooring, and the fishy smell is often stubborn. It will not leave a stain, and the smell will usually disappear within around 24 hours, but it is not the most pleasant of things to live with.

You will probably find yourself cleaning and using air freshener more than usual, but this is all part of owning a pug. 

Just like with male pugs, female pugs also suffer from anal land secretions, which will give off that fishy smell. However, you might notice other smells coming from your female that are not associated with a male pug.

Females might give off a fishy smell when they are in heat, and they also tend to get urinary tract infections more commonly than males. However, more often than not, the fishy smell will be due to their anal glands. 

Why Does My Dog’s Private Area Smell Like Fish?

If your dog’s private area smells like fish, then it is likely that there is something that needs to be treated.

This is something that is more commonly associated with female dogs. If your female dog smells like fish down there, it could be a sign that they have a medical condition.

Female dogs have normal bacteria flora that live in the vagina, but a fishy smell can indicate that there is bad bacteria present.

If anal gland issues are not the problem, it could be that your dog has an infection that is called vaginitis. This is an infection that is caused by yeast or bacteria. 

The uterus can also get infected, which is called pyometra. This is a serious condition that may need emergency surgery. This is something that occurs in females that have not been spade.

However, those dogs that have been spayed can still get infections. If you notice that there is a fishy smell down there, then it is wise to go and see your vet as soon as possible, just in case there is something more serious going on.

It could be something as simple as a UTI, but it could also be something more serious that needs urgent medical treatment.

Your vet will be able to find out what is causing the smell and take the first steps towards solving the problem.

If there is nothing wrong, then it can also be helpful to go through the normal types of smells with your vet, so you can understand what is normal and what is not.

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About the author


Kerry White is an avid dog lover and writer, knowing all there is to know about our furry friends. Kerry has been writing for PetDT for three years now, wanting to use her knowledge for good and share everything she can with new dog owners.Kerry has two dogs herself - a German shepherd called Banjo and a chocolate labrador called Buttons. Kerry knows more than anyone how adjusting to new life with a puppy can turn your life upside down, and she wants to ease some of the burdens through her articles.