“Help!!! “Why does my dog smell like fish?!?!??!

Our vet, Dr. Saba, gets this question quite a bit in her practice. Below she’ll go over the numerous reasons your lil pup may stink like fish, and also some options on how to make it so your pup stays smelling fresh and fish-free.

Without further ado, let’s hear what Dr. Saba has to say…

If you’d rather listen to this blog, just click play on the YouTube video below:

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Why Does My Dog Smell Like Fish?

How your dog smells depends on what he eats, where he rolls when outdoors, and their health conditions. So, when they smell like fish, you have to figure out; is it because of the last night’s salmon dinner? fish oil supplements? or something else?

If you want answers to the questions; “why does my dog smell like fish?”, and “what should I do to get rid of this unpleasant odor?“, keep reading below.

Dr. Saba Answers, “Why Does My Dog Smell Like Fish?”

Why Does My Dog Smell Like Fish?

Well, your dog can smell like fish for multiple reasons, including the dinner you gave them last night. If your new dog food has salmon, or if someone snuck your pup one of their fish sticks under the table, you do not need to worry. Their fishy dog breath is normal and not anything to be concerned about. What if it is not the reason, though?

You have to find the roots … the origin of the smell. Only then you will be able to know the real problem. The most common reason dogs have fishy odor is problems with their anal glands. Other reasons include infections, gastrointestinal problems, and dental issues.  Let’s have a closer look at each of them.

If Your Dog’s Breath Smell Like Fish

You are holding your canine in your lap, talking to him, and patting his back. The moment he tries to lick your face, you realize that his breath smells like fish. Blah!

So you ask yourself, “why in the world does my dog’s breath stink like this?”

Here is the answer. A dog’s breath smells fishy due to two reasons;

#1 Dental Problems
Why Does My Dog Smell Like Fish? - tooth brushing

Sadly, many dog owners do not bother about their pup’s dental health. Brushing your dog’s teeth regularly is as important for them as it is for humans. When left unbrushed, tartar starts accumulating on the canines’ teeth. As a result of the tartar, many harmful bacteria start growing that cause redness and swelling in the gums.

If left as it is, it can cause oral infections making your dogs’ breath unpleasant and fishy-smelling. You can confirm if your dog has dental issues by checking his teeth. If you see tartar or swollen or red gums, take your pup immediately to a vet for the proper dental cleaning and other necessary treatments. 

#2 Gastrointestinal Issues
Why Does My Dog Smell Like Fish? - digestion problems

Another reason for the bad breath of your little furry buddy is problems with the gastrointestinal tract. Food indigestion, intolerance, or allergy can be the reason for unpleasant breath. Sometimes acid reflux also causes bad, fishy breath. 

If you think your dog is having any of these issues, consult a veterinarian. They will recommend you either a hypoallergenic diet or antacid, according to the condition of your furry companion.

If Your Pup’s Bum Smell Like Fish

Why Does My Dog Smell Like Fish? - anal glands

“Why does my dog smell like fish?” Because of its butt!! Someone saying this directly may seem insulting, but it’s reality. Most dogs have fishy odors due to problems with their anal glands.

Anal glands, or anal sacs, are small pea-sized fluid-filled sacs residing inside the dog’s anus. Normally, they are expressed naturally when canines poop or are frightened. Under certain conditions, the anal glands are not expressed naturally. The fluid in the sacs is not emptied properly which causes impaction upon drying.

Dogs with anal gland problems are often seen scooting i.e. sliding their butt on the floor, running behind their tails, licking their rear end, and having difficulty going to the toilet. If your dog shows these symptoms, book an appointment with a vet or a professional dog groomer. He will manually express your pup’s anal glands. 

If Your Furry-Friend’s Pee Smell Like Fish

Why Does My Dog Smell Like Fish? - dog pee

If your four-pawed friend’s pee is the real culprit, it means there is something wrong with their urinary tract. Urinary tract infections are the main reason for fishy-smelling dog pee. Now that you know about the real culprit, take your pup to a vet for proper examination. The vet will prescribe antibiotics if the infection is due to bacteria or any other medication according to the diagnosis.

Other Reasons you may be Asking, “Why Does My Dog Smell Like Fish?”

Why Does My Dog Smell Like Fish? - ears

Ear infections or bacterial and yeast infections of the skin can also be the reason behind the fishy odor of your furry friend. Give your pup a thorough checking of the ears and skin to look for any redness, flaking, or excessive earwax build-up. A trip to the vet for anti-infection or anti-bacterial medication may be necessary.

When Female Dog Smell Like Fish, What Does It Mean?

Why Does My Dog Smell Like Fish? - female dog

You have a female pet dog and it smells like fish. What’s the problem with her?

Well, the answer is either vaginitis or pyometra. Vaginitis is a bacterial or yeast infection in the vagina of a female dog. It causes light-colored discharge from the pet’s vagina. Whereas, pyometra is an infection of a female dog’s uterus. It also causes yellowish or white discharge from the pet’s vagina. 

If you suspect vaginitis or pyometra in your furry friend, take her to the vet for proper treatment as soon as possible.

How Can I Help My Pup Smell Good?

Why Does My Dog Smell Like Fish? smells good

If you have a pet dog, giving them proper attention and care is your responsibility. Here are a few tips to help your pup smell pleasant;

  1. Brush your furry friend’s teeth daily. 
  2. Make dog-friendly oral rinses and dental chews a part of your dog grooming routine.
  3. Take them to the vet for proper dental examination to ensure the good oral health of your furry friend.
  4. Get a special diet recommended by the vet if your dog is having digestive issues that cause fishy breath. 
  5. Check your pup’s anal glands daily to ensure they’re expressing correctly.
  6. Maintain the cleanliness of your pup’s skin and fur to prevent bacterial and yeast infections.
  7. Use pup-friendly ear cleaning solution once a week to keep their ears clean. 
  8. After giving your pup a bath or swimming, dry their ears properly to prevent ear infections.

These are all vet-recommended solutions to the question, “Why Does My Dog Smell Like Fish?” Taking each recommendation to heart, and to practice, will ensure your pup doesn’t smell like they just returned home from the fish market.

“Why Does My Dog Smell Like Fish?” – The Bottom Line

Why Does My Dog Smell Like Fish? - happy dog

Your dog smelling like fish could indicate a number of health issues. It can be due to digestive system issues, dental problems, ear or skin infections, or a problem with the expression of anal glands. Take your pet to a vet to know about the problem and its treatment. Moreover, try to maintain your pup’s health so problems like this don’t come up.

We hope we’ve answered your “Why Does My Dog Smell Like Fish?” question. If you have any other concerns you’d like Dr. Saba to answer, please them in the comments section below and we’ll have Dr. Saba address them.

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