Ask a Vet

Why Does My Female Dog Smell Like Fish?

By Kerry
Updated on

If you have a dog, then you will know how big a part of our lives that they can become. Our dogs are our best friends, and we end up spending a lot of time with them.

Why does my female dog smell like fish

Whether it is for long walkies, snuggles on the couch or lots of belly rubs and head scratches to show them how much you care, your dog will always be there.

But, have you ever been rubbing your female dog’s belly and noticed that she gives off a bit of a fishy scent or a smelly odor?

Sometimes female dogs can smell really fishy, and the scent can emanate from not only the mouth but also the butt, and you may notice it coming from your dog’s urine, too.

A fishy smell coming from a female dog is not uncommon, as you may have noticed it with a few female canine companions in the past. Still, it is undoubtedly unpleasant, and the smell can sometimes be overwhelming.

So what causes this fishy fiasco to happen, and how can you prevent it? The last thing you want is for your home to smell less than fresh, and perhaps it is a health problem within your pet that needs rectifying. So, why does your female dog smell like fish?

Why does my female dog smell like fish?

Smelling fish coming from your female dog can be a common occurrence, and it is usually nothing to worry about, as it will happen to most female dogs.

The most typical reasons that this may happen are because of either a vaginal yeast infection or a problem with the anal glands.

If this is happening inside your female dog, then it will usually make the urine smell strong, fishy, and odorous, which is an issue that should be solved.

For the most part, some dogs will just smell, as dogs can get stinky due to their age, breed, diet, or hormones.

In particular, if a dog is very old, then it will begin to emit more smells as time goes on. However, a fishy smell from a dog or female dog is usually a sign of a yeast infection.

Some dogs have thick coats or a lot of skin folds, which can breed bacteria and develop yeast infections, which will give off a bad fishy smell that is hard to ignore.

In other cases, a dog may have increased hormones and bad hygiene and may produce more oil, which will, in turn, give them a fishy scent.

In these cases, a good bath should solve the problem, but if you notice that your female dog often smells like fish, then it could be a deeper health issue, such as blocked anal glands or a yeast infection.

However, there are a few reasons that this could be happening.

Reasons your female dog smells like fish

If you start to realize that your female dog’s behind is stinking of fish, or if her breath and pee are smelling strong, then it could be one of the following issues.

Problems with anal glands

One of the most common reasons a female dog will smell of fish is if there are problems with the anal glands. The anal glands or anal sacs are found just on the side of your dog’s bottom or anus.

These have a lot of sweat glands which is what causes the strong, fishy scent, but this is also the part of the dog that emits the most smells. Hence, this is why dogs smell each other’s butts all of the time!

Issues in anal sacs

If there is a problem in the anal sacs, then the dog will secrete a stinky smell of fish from her bottom and from her lower regions. If your female dog has anal sac disease, then this is most likely why she smells.

When your dog defecates or poops, the anal glands will be cleared of any excess matter or fluid. However, if the anal glands are not completely or properly emptied when they go to the toilet, then the anal sac becomes impacted, blocked, or dry.

This will make the butt smell like fish in most cases.


On the other hand, the anal sacs and glands can become infected, which is what will give off a fish-like scent. If the anal glands are infected, then the anus may seem swollen and discolored, or it can even discharge fluids.

If this is the case, then you may need to seek medical advice from a professional or a veterinarian. They can then diagnose the issue and administer antibiotics to treat the infection.

Smelling like fish when nervous or scared

In some other cases, a female dog may secrete fishy smells when she is nervous, anxious, or scared.

Possible abscesses, cysts, or tumors

If your dog smells particularly fishy from the butt, then this could be a sign that there are cysts and abscesses of tumors inside the anal glands.

These can make the anal glands enlarged, hard, and painful, which can make going to the toilet very difficult for your doggie. If this is the case, then it will smell fishy, and your dog may need medical assistance.

Treatments for blocked anal glands

If the fishy smell coming from your female dog is due to blocked anal glands, then this is a problem that has to be rectified. To treat blocked anal glands, you are going to want to take your pet to the veterinarian.

In most cases, the veterinarian may feel inside of your dog’s anus to see if there is a blockage, any swelling, cysts or tumors that need treating.

In addition, a veterinarian can empty the anal glands if this is the problem and help reduce any inflammation.

In other cases, your veterinarian will offer medication such as antibiotics or anti-inflammatories to treat the anal glands and restore your dog to normal health.

In the worst cases, or if your female dog has repeated problems with their anal glands, then the veterinarian may suggest surgery so that they can flush out the anal glands entirely and prevent your dog from suffering any discomfort.

Why does my female dog’s pee smell like fish?

In other cases, it is not just the butt of your female dog that smells fishy. The smell could be coming from elsewhere, or your female dog may have particularly fishy urine. This is not uncommon for female dogs and is usually an issue with the vagina.

Possible UTI

Most of the time, when your female dog has fishy-smelling urine, it is typically caused by a urinary tract infection, also known as a UTI.

This is usually an infection in the bladder, which is what can make the pee smell differently. For most cases, a dose of antibiotics will clear a UTI very quickly. Still, your veterinarian may prescribe pain medication as these infections can be rather painful and uncomfortable for your dog.


Female dog smell like fish

Pyometra is an infection inside the womb, which can affect both neutered and unneutered female dogs.

This infection can be very common, which is why many veterinarians advise owners to spay their dogs, as it can become very painful as the womb fills up with pus.

However, pyometra can also lead to blood poisoning, kidney failure, and in the worst cases, death. If your dog is suffering from this infection, their pee may also smell fishy, and they will need urgent medical attention.

This is why, if you ever notice a strong fishy smell when your female dog pees, you should seek advice from a veterinarian immediately, just to be safe!

Yeast Infections

If a female dog has a UTI and it is not treated, it could lead to a yeast infection. These are most commonly found in the vagina, which will give off a rather fishy smell in the genital area, and will make the urine smell fishy.

Why does my female dog’s breath smell fishy?

Dog breath never smells good. Whether they have just dug up your flower bed or eaten a can of wet dog food, it’s almost guaranteed that your dog’s breath will smell bad. But sometimes, you may notice that your dog has a fishy smell to its breath.

If your dog does not eat fish as part of its diet, then the fishy breath is unexpected and may need some assistance.

When a dog has fishy breath, it is usually because of a gum condition such as gingivitis or periodontal disease, but most of the time, it is just down to poor oral hygiene.

In addition, as your dog ages, their gums and oral health may deteriorate, and their breath may begin to smell. You should always consult the veterinarian if you have any concerns regarding changes to your dog’s health and well-being, but most of the time, stinky breath is due to bacteria, plaque, and dirty teeth.

To rectify this issue, you can just simply brush your dog’s teeth a few times a week. For best results, try using an enzymatic toothpaste, such as:

and brush your dog’s teeth two or three times a week, and the smell should be no more!


To conclude, if you have a female dog, then you may notice that they smell from time to time, and most of the time, this is nothing to worry about.

What you should take note of is if your female dog tends to smell fishy, or whether the lower regions, butt, breath or pee begins to smell overly potent, fishy, and unpleasant.

A strong fishy smell coming from the body is typically a sign of a problem or an infection that needs to be treated. In most cases, a fishy-smelling butt is usually the sign of blocked anal glands, which your veterinarian can treat easily.

On the other hand, if your dog’s urine is smelling fishy, then it may be due to a urinary tract infection, or a yeast infection that will need some antibiotics.

Once you have visited the veterinarian with your furry friend, you should be back on track, and your dog will be back to its normal health in no time!

Just remember to keep on top of proper hygiene for your dog with regular baths, and don’t forget to keep track of your dog’s dental and oral care too. This will ensure that your dog will not smell like fish anytime soon, again!

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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.