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April 07, 2007


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What about the "roll on something dead and well rotted so half dead still wiggling maggots are smooshed into your fur and the only way home is to get back in the van and your human REALLY doesn't want you in there in that condition."
Is it acceptable to repeatedly hurl said Rottweiler in the river until most of the nastiness is washed off? I hope so because that's what I did on Sunday morning....!

Daniel Clark

We have a female shih-tzu that is 9 months old and lately we have noticed a very strong odor around her face. It smells alot like vomit yet she has not vomited. We would appreciate any advice. Thank-you The Clarks


I would look for pockets that are holding fluid. This allows bacteria to thrive and create odor. Look on the sides of her lower lip. Also, look at skin folds on her nose, in front of her eyes. Open her mouth and check for stuff caught between her teeth, or back between cheek and gums. It wouldn't hurt to check her ears as well.

I hope this is helpful.

Thanks for reading and writing.

Alan Berry

I have a Beagle who's breath smells like vomit. Should I be checking for the same things you suggested to Daniel Clarke?

Alan Berry

I have a Beagle who's breath smells like vomit. Should I be checking for the same things you suggested to Daniel Clarke?


Checking those things would be a good place to start. If you can't find anything, seek the help of your veterinarian.

Thanks for reading and writing.


Our 9 month old boston terrier/french bulldog mix has a strong odor coming from her face. Her cheeks, breath, and mouth. Her cage also stinks of it and she smelled this way the day after giving her a bath and washing her bedding. She doesn't really have folds as the others have talked about so I dont know what it is? Any advice?



The best advice I can give you is to have your dog
examined by your veterinarian. The dog could have a
skin-fold dermatitis that you have considered
insignificant. She could have a retained baby tooth
that is holding junk between her teeth. She could
have a foreign body lodged somewhere under tongue or
way back in her cheeks. She could have some systemic
illness that causes bad breath. I urge you to get her
checked out by her doctor.

Thanks for reading and writing.


I have a golden lab mix and he also stink very bad even 5 hours after bath with dog shampoo. I was checking where the smell should come from, but it is not from his ear not from his mouth, and not even his butt, actually his fur smells. I don’t see his scratching himself either. I have a stream going trough on my backyard and he love to swim almost every day, but he still stinks. First I thought may be because sometimes his fur not dry out well before he comes in the house and here in California the summer hot so he my get sweat. We took him to the veterinary and they said it is the anal glands issue, so they took care of it. But he still stinks. So my next step is to change his food. Right now I give him Nutro Natural Choice dog food, and Pedigree can foods. If anyone has any idea what else could be pls. post it.
Thank you


Wet dogs do indeed have a distinctive odor, even when there is no problem. However, if this were the source of your situation, he should smell fine after bathing and drying, and it sounds as though he does not.

Dogs really don't sweat much, except for on their noses and foot-pads. Therefore hot days causing B.O. due to sweating are not very likely.

Talk to your veterinarian and let them know that draining his anal sacs did not make a difference. They are in the best position to help you, but if you don't tell them what's going on, they will be thinking everything is okay. Give them some feedback so that they can help you.

Thanks for reading and writing.


I have a 11 year old Chow Chow that has been having hair loss on her back, with some skin discoloration (from pink/normal to dark brown and black) where the hair is missing. There was crusting at the base of the follicle and when I try to remove it, an entire clump of hair comes off and now she has a bare streak on her back because it hasn't or doesn't grow back. She also has some on her face, but not as bad. I'm currently treating her for mange, even though they didn't find anything with the skin scraping. When I bathe her, there is a distinct smell of ammonia. I'm not sure if it's the shampoo and skin flakes/crust mixing together or what. Have you ever heard of this?


Hello, Dawn,

I have not encountered the ammonia smell you describe when bathing. It does NOT sound like the ammonia smell one finds on the breath of animals with kidney failure (they are REALLY sick).

Please mention this to your doctor. It is possible that the medicated shampoo may have some compound that contributes to the odor, and that they can reassure you on this point.

I suspect that if you don't have good results with the treatment, they may recommend doing a skin biopsy. This is a bigger up-front expense, but can save a lot of time and money in the long run by getting an accurate diagnosis.

I don't usually do skin biopsies on a first visit, but if things are not going as expected and my other tests aren't helpful, a skin biopsy can be a super big help.

Good luck.


I have a miniature poodle bichon mix (bichy-poo?) That smells fine after a bath but stinks horribly after being outside in the sun. She also scratches quite a bit. I tried a dandruff type shampoo on her and it made things worse. We have changed foods and that does not seem to help.

Got any ideas?


Hello, Kevin,

I must confess that I don't have any specific ideas about why a stint in the sunshine would make your dog smell worse.

Itchy dogs that scratch excessively get those skin oil glands overactive, producing that rancid smell.

I'd try taking the dog in to see you veterinarian when she (the dog) is having a stinky day.

Sorry I couldn't be of more help.

Love the "Bichy-Poo" name.


My 11yr. old Boxer has always had a "foot" smell about him. Not strong, but, musky. Lately, the smell is all over his body. Also, he has broken out in hives(bumps all over his body). He is an indoor dog. I've treated him for mange mites with dip. No help. It seems he may have passed his skin affliction on to me from sleeping in my bed. Before we both itch to death, any ideas on how to treat this? I'm leaning towards fungicide(athlete's foot spray).


Hello, Jennifer,

I strongly recommend that you take your dog to see his veterinarian. There are quite a few different things that could be causing this and you really need to get a diagnosis instead of just treating "by guess and by golly".

You might both have a contact sensitivity to something. Any new sheets, blankets, detergents, fabric softeners, etc.?

It is unlikely that you would catch staph bacterial infections from your dog, but not impossible.

Allergies could explain your dog's condition, but that would not be catching.

It is certainly possible to catch ringworm-type skin fungus, but I would expect that you personally would have some red, crusty sores. The appearance in the dog can be quite variable, anything from the classic, round, raised crusty "ringworm" lesion to mild lumpy-bumpies.

Scabies mites (sarcoptic mange)are very definitely transmissible to humans, particularly if you are sleeping with the dog. Usually, in addition to itching, you would be developing some red bumps, like chiggers (only more itchy). Treating with Revolution three times at 2-week intervals would rule this out. I wouldn't count on the dipping.

Demodex mites (red mange) could certainly cause your dog's problem. Dogs can carry small numbers of these mites throughout their life with no apparent problem. Then, with age or other medical conditions, their resistance drops, and the mites overmultiply, causing skin problems. Again, this would NOT be transmissible to you.

This dog needs a diagnosis, and we just can't do that over the phone (or the web). Take him to the veterinarian.

Thanks for reading and writing.


We have a 12 year old female Golden Retriever and we have also noticed a strong Amonia odor while bathing her. It is very strong - to the point where when you finish with her you have a bit of a head ache. We also have an 11 yr. old male and he doesn't have the reaction. We have tried different shampoos but, the odor still happens. She smells fine when wet... just when shampoo'd. I know that you posted that you hadn't heard of this before but, we wanted to post to Dawn that we know exactly what she is describing! Please let us know if you have any other ideas what the cause could be! Thanks!


I have a 1yr old choc lab who sometimes smells horribly like stinky feet even his pet bed smells like it even after laundering, the smell will last a few days to a week at a time then go away, it gets VERY strong, (literally the first time it happened i yelled at my fiance to wash his feet assuming it was him... poor guy) I also have a rescued golden retriever (not sure of her age)who when bathed, has a stinky odor, not wet dog smell, or camel smell (lol) just foul stinky and hard to describe maby like poopy bo, i just assumed maby getting a bath made her nervous and she was secreting some sweaty bo or oil, anyway smelly shampoo doesnt do the trick for either of them, any ideas, normally i would just load them up for a trip to the vet but i lost my job (dang economy) 3 months ago and therefore have to work on a tight budget for now, I love my pets and consider them my children, while my friends and family consider me crazy. Up to now I never thought twice about a vet bill (even when the dreaded bloat happened)i have some emergency money but this didnt seem like an emergency situation. Thanks for reading!


Hello, GunGirl, (western or sporting or paramilitary?)

Since the odor comes and goes, it is not likely to be an ear infection. The only thing I can think of is that he may be expelling his anal sacs if he gets stressed. This really stinks, and is a persistent odor.

There is a product called "Elimin-Odor" that is an odor-binder. It keeps the stinky stuff from vaporizing into the atmosphere. Try your veterinarian and see if you can get some of this. Wipe his anal area, the underside of his tail and the back of hind legs. If this controls the odor, it's probably his anal sacs.

Good luck


I have 2 min Schnauzers that stink. Schnauzers are susposed not to stink. They do not roll in anything. I have tried a medicated shampoo the vet gave me with no luck. They smell awful a few hours after bathing. I have them groomed and they take care of the anal gland, and ears. They love everyone but it is embarassing for company to pet them.


Hello, Gloria,

Has your veterinarian actually examined the dogs?
You need to rule out ear infections and dental problems (if they chew themselves, they spread mouth yuck onto their fur).

Are they itchy? Lots of scratching gets those skin oil glands overactive. Anti-seborrheic shampoos only help if you get the underlying cause of the itching handled. Schnauzers are quite prone to superficial pyoderma (skin infections with the staph bacteria that are normally not a problem), in fact, you may hear people refer to "Schnauzer bumps". Allergy is another source of itching, too. Yeast infections in the skin can be pretty stinky, too.

If your veterinarian has already ruled out these problems, then I would ask him for a referral to a veterinary dermatologist.

Good luck.


hello, i have a yorkie poo, he usually doesnt stink unless he is in the cage for a couple hours. the smell is horrible!! the cage is clean so i dont know what it is!! please help!


Hello, Megan,

If he had a skin problem, mouth problem or ear problem, I would expect him to be stinky all the time. If he is only stinky after being crated, and you can't see an obvious reason, I would suspect his anal sacs.

The anal sacs normally empty their noxious secretion at the end of a bowel movement. As the anal sphincter contracts to finish off the poop, the sacs are squeezed and a few drops of the foul-smelling territorial marker falls free of the dog onto the top of the BM, where you would not notice it.

Some dogs under stress will have a "butt-pucker moment", and the same squeezing of the anal sphincter empties the sacs. The difference here is that the dog is not squatting, so the secretion winds up on his bottom and under his tail.

There is a good deodorizer called "Elimin-odor" available from many veterinarians. Wiping your dog's tail and bottom down with such a product would greatly improve the situation if the anal sacs are the problem.

Here's a link to more discussion of the anal sacs:


Good luck.


this spray gets any odor off of your pet.. it's truly amazing



I have a 6 yr old male Chessie. Over the last month he has become so smelly we almost can't be in the same room w/ him. At first we thought it was a yeast infection in his ears, which he always gets. But I treated that and he still smells. After a recent bath we noticed that the skin on his back was bloody in patches. Not profusely bleeding, just very much on the surface of the skin. Mostly near his hind legs and moving up the center. When he is dry it is crusty, flakes off and smells. When we brush him dead flakes of skin come off everywhere - A LOT! He has never had anything like this before. What is it, what could it be caused from and how can I treat it at home if possible.

Thank you,


Hello, Jamie,

From your description, my top three differential diagnoses would be pyoderma due to Staph bacteria, Ringworm-type skin fungus, and yeast skin infection (Malassezia).

Any skin problem should also have a skin scraping to rule out mange mites. I looked at a Collie today who has been treated repeatedly (elsewhere) over the past year for "hot spots". They never did a skin scraping and he has demodectic mange. He has been suffering needlessly for a long time.

You really need to see your veterinarian in order to figure out what is causing the skin condition. The skin infections also usually have some other underlying cause that is getting the dog's resistance down.

Which as severe a problem as you are describing, I wouldn't waste time and money screwing around with over-the-counter remedies.

Sorry I don't have a quick fix, but dermatology in the dog is often frustrating. Many different underlying conditions (or combinations thereof) can produce very similar outward appearances.

Your dog really needs to see your veterinarian.

Good luck.


My daughter has an American Staffordshire terrier that has no odor whatsoever, and the dog goes out to a fenced in backyard every day and gets bathed about once a month. She is awesome!!


I have a toy poodle, almost 6 months old, and he had puppy breath (so sweet!) until about 2 weeks ago and now ... whew! His breath suddenly is awful! He wants to lick all over us but you can't stand it. I am using Nutro Puppy Food -- was using Iams but the Obedience Trainer said that had too much corn in it so we changed his food. Since he is still such a baby, what could be making his breath smell so bad??


Hello, Diana,

Sometimes bad breath is related to eating nasty stuff. I'd try to observe the kid closely to be sure he isn't eating garbage, cat poo, his own poop, etc.

With a puppy that age, I'd also be concerned about the possibility that there is a problem shedding the baby teeth. This can cause crud to get caught in between the teeth, thus leading to bad breath.

If you can't see anything wrong in the pup's mouth, it would probably be worthwhile to have you veterinarian take a good look in the mouth.

Good luck.

Diana Bozeman

Hi Doc! Just wanted you to know that you were right on!! My puppy had 4 baby canine teeth that he was not shedding so the vet removed them when I took him in to have him neutered. Hopefully that will help with the bad breath!! Thanks again so much!!


Good morning Doc,

We have a Dachshund who is about 5 months old. His breath has become just horrible, as well as his poop when he has an accident. I know all poop is going to be smelly but this is just beyond rancid. I don't know if his digestion is off or what. Any suggestions? Thank you.



Hello, Melinda,

I'd be looking at diet first. What is he eating? Has it changed? Does he have access to the outdoors? Supervised or unsupervised? Fenced or unfenced? Are there other pets? Could he be finding and eating cat poop?
Are his stools firm or loose? Normal color?

Your turn...


Hey Doc,

He's eating Science Diet, it has not changed. He does get to go outside, unsupervised, we have a large fenced backyard. Yes we have two other dogs, a maltese and the best kind in the world (a mutt). Yes cat poop could be found, we have an outdoor cat who hangs out in the backyard quite a bit. His stools aren't runny, but not really firm either, seem to be a normal color.


K9 help

Just wanted to say that we have noticed the SAME ammonia type odor when bathing our 3 year old German Shep. It doesn't matter what type of shampoo we use, the smell is very distinctive. He has a lot of itching and smells horrible, so we put him on a holistic diet with all natural ingredients. It worked very well for a few weeks and now we are back to excessive itching.


Hello, Melinda,

If the dog seems to feel well,I would consider a two-day trial of strict supervision. He doesn't go outside except on a leash with a person, so you know that he's not eating some kind of yuck.

Collect a fresh stool for your veterinarian (less than 12 hour old when they veterinarian gets it).

If the situation resolves, then you know there's something in the yard. If it doesn't (or if the dog begins to feel bad at all), then it's time for a trip to the veterinarian. This may require some hands-on work.

Good luck.

Shelly W.

I also have a 10 month old visla mix that smells of ammonia when bathing her. It almost knocked me over tonight. She also has a skin problem, yet undiagnosed. We have ruled out mange so am changing her diet and treating her for yeast infection. It doesn't matter what shampoo we use, either. Tonight's bath was remarkably strong in ammonia smell.


I have a 5 1/2 year old Shih Tzu. She enjoys naps but recently, in the past few months I've realized that she stinks really bad. One thing I noticed was that she is wet under her armpits and often under her neck. Her skin is flaking a bit and washing it doesn't seem to help. She scratches alot at these places and sometimes I find angry red marks where she has been scratching at. I was wondering what causes this and how I can treat it.

Thank you,


Hello, Andy,

I would be suspicious of a yeast(Malassezia) infection. Your veterinarian can do skin scrapings and scotch-tape preparation cytology exams under the microscope to detect the yeast or bacteria, or mange mites, or whatever else may be there.

The problem with dog skin is that it doesn't have a lot of imagination. You can have a lot of different underlying causes and the skin just keeps doing the same old thing: itchy, red, flaky, greasy, lumpy-bumpy.

You really need to get a skin checkup with your veterinarian. Actually, you need a whole-body checkup. Sometimes a skin problem is just a skin problem. Sometimes it's a whole body problem, and the skin problem is just the part you can see.

Thanks for reading and writing.


Our 6-year-old recent puppy mill rescue shihtzu has ear infections and reddish brownish discoloration of fur on all feet and up the hind legs. Do you think they are related through allergy perhaps? Is there a food that would be better than a chicken based kibble?


In addition for our shihtzu we have been using ear cleaning and medication and antifungal smapoos all prescribed by vet but nothing helps. Thanks. Cathy


Hello, Cathy,

I can only speak in general terms here, as I cannot see your dog. Your veterinarian is the best person to advise you, as he/she can see your dog and get the one-on-one that is essential to success.

The reddish-brown staining on the legs is usually due to excessive licking and chewing. The saliva stains the hair. Sometimes a dark coloration is associated with a yeast infection.

The anti-fungal shampoos should help with a yeast infection, but some dogs require systemic therapy, such as oral ketoconazole.

The combination of problems that your dog exhibits does suggest allergic problems. Has your veterinarian done any allergy treatment using some type of cortisone? Examples would be prednisone, dexamethasone, triamcinolone. I would be very suspicious that your dog would require this type of treatment.

I doubt that changing foods will solve your problem. Food allergies certainly exist, but they can occur with just about any food. When we have a patient who sure looks to be allergic, but does not respond to cortisone, we suspect food allergies.

The only way to diagnose these is with a dietary elimination trial. One obtains a special diet containing nothing that the dog has eaten before. It usually takes six months to get sensitized to a new food, so if you have food allergy, it's usually NOT something new, but something the dog has eaten for a long time.

The special diet might be one with novel ingredients, like kangaroo and oats, or it might be a hydrolyzed protein diet, where the protein source is broken down into short amino-acid fragments, like Purina HA or Hill's Z/D.

That diet is fed exclusively for several weeks, being sure that the dog gets nothing else. This allows every trace of the old food to leave the dog's system. It can take as long as 16 weeks. This is a lot of trouble, so we don't usually do it unless we have tried other things first.

I haven't seen your dog, nor read your medical records, and I don't know the complete history. From what you have told me, I do suspect an underlying allergic problem that needs to be addressed. This could be to anything in the environment: house-dust, pollen, mold, etc., as well as possibly an ingredient in the diet.

Good luck.


Hello - I have a border collie - terrier mix about 8 years old. She was rescued from a terrible home life prior to our adopting her from a shelter. For the last 5 years she has suffered terribly from some sort of horrible skin affliction. She bites and scratches constantly, leaving bloody open sores and removing any portion of her fur she can bite or rub off. Her coat is somewhat greasy and has a bad order but she REEKS of ammonia when I am bathing her. During this time she has been under constant vet care with allergy shots, antibiotics and flea meds -none of which seem to help. I love her dearly, but can find no relief for her and am tearfully considering having her put down to end her constant suffering. Do you have any ideas as to what causes this or what I can do for her? Thank you so much. pk


Hello, Peggy,

The problem here is that there are so many things to consider. I will go over some of them. Your veterinarian has probably already done some or all of these, but it might be helpful to repeat some of the tests. You can miss things sometimes.

The difficulty is that really bad skin problems can have multiple underlying causes, and ALL must be found and treated in order to obtain relief for the patient.

I am sure that your veterinarian has already checked skin scrapings for mange mites. Sometimes one gets false negative scrapings, and I have mistakenly ruled out mites when they were really there. The dermatologists say that itchy dogs should always be treated for Scabies (Sarcoptic mange) if you can't find anything else. I have had good luck using Revolution three times at 2-week intervals. I recently spoke with a dermatologist who prefers Advantage Multi (the moxidectin is what kills the mites) on that schedule.

Any constantly itchy dog will get its skin-oil glands over-active, producing a rancid smell. I do not have any experience with the ammonia smell coming from the skin. Some dogs have an ammonia smell on their breath when their kidneys are failing, but that would hardly go on for years, and the dog would be terribly ill. Some diabetic dogs have breath that smells of acetone (like nail-polish remover).

Your veterinarian has probably already done this, but with such a long-standing problem, one must consider that skin problems sometimes are "whole-body problems", and the skin is just the part you can see. Therefore, you want to check the whole dog, running a complete blood count and a biochemistry panel. Thyroid problems are usually not itchy, but low thyroid can predispose you to other skin problems. That should be checked as well.

Skin infections with the yeast Malassezia are not uncommon. They don't respond to cortisone or antibiotics (the kind that kill bacteria, that is). You need to use anti-fungal shampoos, and often systemic anti-fungal drugs, like ketoconazole or fluconazole.

Food allergies are often unresponsive to medication. The only way to really diagnose or evaluate them is with a dietary elimination trial. The dog must eat a special diet (something with ingredients never eaten before, not just a different brand) for anywhere from four to sixteen weeks.

A skin biopsy would be indicated in a dog with such a long-standing problem. Even if one was done years ago, I would do another one. This needs to be sent to a dermatopathologist, a pathologist who specializes in skin disease.

I hope this is helpful to you.

Good luck.


I have a rescue Boston Terrier, 6-years old. He came with food allergies but has been doing fine on Wellness dry (duck). Lately, he has been projectile vomiting up feces-smelling small pieces.
When this happens, he has diarrhea. Otherwise, his appetite is good and he plays, etc. What could cause this?? Thanks for any info. Nancy


Hello, Nancy,

When I have had patients who vomited up stuff that smelled like feces, they had an intestinal blockage and nothing was getting through. Since he is only bringing up small pieces occasionally, that would not be the case. If he had a blockage, he'd most likely just be getting sicker on a continuing basis.

It is possible that he has some partial blockage. A foreign object in the stomach can move around, sometimes blocking the exit valve at the pylorus, and sometimes being out of the way.

Some type of intestinal infection is possible. Occasionally dogs with whipworms will have intermittent vomiting and diarrhea.

If I were seeing him, we'd probably start with a stool exam and an abdominal survey X-ray. I'd recommend that you see you veterinarian.

Good luck.

Dale carpenter

Hi , I have a very small 9 year old shi-zu that always stinks like poo and sratches constantly . I've noticed that she is not fluffy like most shi-zu's . She is overly warm to the touch and her hair lays very flat. Can't take the smell much longer and can't even give her away, poor thing , any advice? Dale



Long-distance diagnosis is tricky, but it sounds like your dog's primary problem is the itching. The warmth is inflammation. The constant scratching gets the skin oil glands overactive, producing a rancid odor. In severe cases, the odor will return within a couple of hours of bathing. The skin is just oozing this excess oily secretion, and the bacteria on the skin turn it rancid in a hurry.

You need to find and treat the underlying cause of the itching, whether it is allergy, skin infection or mites or whatever.

I think it is very likely that a visit (maybe a couple of visits) to your veterinarian can get this handled.

Good luck.

Leroy's mom


I have a neutered 3 year old male bassett hound who stinks. I get him professionally groomed once a month except for during the rainy season because for some reason when it's rainy outside he extra stinks. I got him groomed in December and the very next day he stank as badly as he did before I took him in. He usually won't start to stink until about 2 weeks after getting groomed. While he is at the groomers I wash all of his bedding. I have him on a corn free Nutro Natural food. He sheds alot but my vet said that's pretty normal for bassetts. My vet did reccomend a special shampoo but it was $60+ a bottle and since he sheds so much I can't wash him at home in the bath tub because I'm afraid he'll cause a plumbing issue. He doesn't seem to scratch too much and he doesn't have any flaking, red skin or hair loss (beyond his normal shedding). His stinkiness is a very strong "houndy" odor. Any suggestions for keeping him smelling fresher?


Hello, Leroy's Mom,

If the dog is clean, and medical problems with mouth, ears, and anal sacs have been ruled out, and the dog just "smells doggy", you might try using Pfizer's Canine Elimin-odor product. This has no fragrance, but chemically binds the odorant molecules so they don't vaporize into the air, thus no smell.

To get a little fragrance that antagonizes the doggy smell, I also like Fresh-n-Clean aerosol cologne.

Be sure to rule out the medical problems first.

Good luck.


Hi I have an 11 year old male bull terrior mix who has recently started to stink and I cannot figure out why. It began about 6 months or a year ago - he also had his spleen removed in Feb 2009 due to cancer (not sure if that has anything to do with it or not). I think it's a general overall musty smell that appears to come from his fur and appears about 3 days after a bath. I thought, too, that it was a result of being in the heat and humidity (sweating)until I read your earlier answers.
Our vet said it was because he had over-prodcution of oil in his skin, and gave us this special shampoo and pet deoderant. I am just not buying into that explanation because my dog has never had this problem in the past and I don't believe he all of a sudden started producing more oil (unless it's due to age or the previous cancer).
Do you have any other suggestion for me? I cannot give my dog a bath every few days (or every week for that matter) and that pet deoderant is not the answer!! Any help would be appreciated.


Hello, Suzanne,

It would be unusual for a dog to suddenly begin secreting excessive skin oil in his old age. This is usually genetic throughout life (like a lot of Cocker Spaniels), or related to a lot of itching (which you do not mention).

The first thing I would do would be to recheck his blood work with a complete profile, including thyroid hormone levels. If this is not revealing, then I would consult with a veterinary dermatologist.

Good luck.

Joan Walsh

This might be more than y'all wanted to know about anal sacs but here goes...I had my Corgi mix bathed once a week...she was a real stinker. The vet had shown me how to express the anal glands but I preferred someone else to do it. There are two ways to express...externally and internally. The groomer did it externally. 6-12 hours after Poochie got home she was stinky again...the odor is unmistakable. I finally tried bathing her myself and NOT doing the anal glands unless she seemed uncomfortable with them. It seems that the external weekly agitation of the glands had kept them super-active. Once we got that down to a less frequent routine she doesn't smell so bad. I hope that helps.Oh yeah, I expressed the glands internally. Not much fun but it seems to work better...it isn't quite as irritating for the dog.

Jon Mowery

I have a 10 year old Spitz mix male dog. For 8 1/2 years he had no odor other than normal dog odor (I've owned dogs all my life and this is the first awful smelling dog I've had). He is an indoor dog and I take him for a walk four or five times a day. All the sudden (no change in food or external conditions) he has started smelling awful. The vet says his ears look good. There is no odor with breath. He is bathed once a month and they exercise his anal glands. After the bath he smells better but not good like he used to. This will last for a day or two but then the smells back. Why does he smell so awful? He licks his feet constantly and pants like he's hot all the time. My wife is ready to through him out the door. Help!


Hello, Jon,

Your discussion doesn't give me a lot to go on. You've apparently ruled out ear infections, tooth problems, and anal sack problems, three of the more common causes. I presume it is the dog itself stinking, rather than just passing bad gas (a problem in itself).

The constant foot-licking suggests a possible allergy. I have patients whose excessive scratching causes excessive skin oil release, and this produces a rancid odor.

Are there other signs of allergic itching? Hair loss? Sore places?

I wish I could be of more help, but long-distance is tough.

Good luck.


Hello- I have a Shih Tzu mix, that always stinks even after bathing him with special shampoo from our vet, I keep his hair cut short every 6 wks. he's also been checked for allergies by taking his blood and than sent to a lab for testing, I was giving him injections $110.00 x3 bottles that last for about 3 months but that worked for a very short time before the scratching statred all over again.... and another refill was needed. Please, Please Help!!! The vet tells us there is not much more that can be done and his allergies are year round!


Hello, Sheli,

Stinkiness usually results from excessive scratching. This causes the production of too much skin oil, which gets stinky in a hurry.

Excess scratching takes place because you itch all the time.

If the hyposensitization injections were working while you were giving them, then you know that you have allergy problems. Allergy problems cause itching in most dogs.

Hyposensitization therapy is a life-long process. While you are giving the injections every week or so, the dog's allergy is under control. When you quit giving the injections, he quickly loses his tolerance for the allergens.

If it worked, I'd re-start it, realizing that it won't start working right away.

If it didn't work and corticosteroids (like prednisone) don't help, I'd be concerned that you might have a food allergy.

Talk to your veterinarian about revisiting the hyposensitization therapy, and also about a dietary elimination trial to look at food allergy.

Good luck


I have a two year old cocker spaniel that has an awful smell around her mouth. there are a few hairs on each side of her mouth that
smell really bad. I cut them and clean them but the smell eventually comes back. What is it, and how do I get rid of it.


Hello, Mary,

Assuming that your dog doesn't have a problem with teeth and gums, it sounds like there is a problem with the lip folds.

A lot of spaniels have a deep fold of skin at the sides of their lower lips. This forms a little pocket of sorts that holds saliva and bacteria and it stinks.

While daily cleansing with a baby wipe may help, and clipping the hair very short there may help, some of these dogs need surgery to eliminate the excess skin and get rid of that pocket.

It's pretty hard to make a long-distance diagnosis, but that is what it sounds like from here. You might ask your veterinarian about it. Take the dog in for an exam when it's stinky.

Good luck.


Here's one for you: My dog smells like cat pee. He is a 10 yr old male german shepard. He's always had some allergy/itching but not to a dangerous extent. He did have a fungal thing around his genital area which we treated over a year ago and has not returned. Recently we had an issue with ticks, which we finally got under control. I noticed him having some skin issues after this so I asked the pet store what the best food is for his skin, they referred me to sweet potato and fish. He loves it but since day two on this stuff he smells like cat pee. I actually though the cat pee'd on the rug and he lied in it. I gave him two baths in one week with kelosab and the very next day he smelled again each time. Could it be the food?


Hello, Kat,

I would not ordinarily pick on the food, but since this started right after the change of food, it would be worth checking.

Change back to his regular food for a week, and see if the odor resolves. If so, try the food again and see if it returns. That should tell you the story.

Good luck.



I am curious are you feeding Natural Balance? My dog has lots of skin and allergy issues and recently I have started having the same problem. She smells like urine. Considering she is not even 6 months old the chance of kidney issues is low but I am taking her to the vet on Thursday for her spay so we are going to check for that as well. However, I switched her to LID - Natural Balance, Fish and Sweet Potato and I have noticed over the last couple weeks that her whole body smells horrible of urine. I give her a bath, using Histacalm shampoo, and within a day or two the smell comes back. I think she feels much better and is itching less so I will deal with the odor as long as she is happy and comfortable. I am a little relieved to see someone else say that they smell that on their dog after feeding fish and potato, so hopefully that is all it is.



With two testimonials like that, I am going to pass this on to the gurus at Veterinary Information Network and see if any of them have had a similar experience. Thanks for reading and writing.


Update, I took my dog off the food and within 2 days he smelled like the bath I had given him 3 days before.

Carrie, it was indeed the Natural Balance. I took it back to the store and explained everything, they were gracious enough to refund my monies.

For the record, I don't think it's a bad food, my dog loved it and all else seemed well with him but the smell. I think he must have some underlying issue that the food brought out in him.

Either way, back to the old food and he smells great again!


The VIN guys noted that the had seen dogs develop a "fishy odor" when fed a fish-based dog food, but not a smell of urine.

As "beauty is in the eye of the beholder", stench is in the nostril of the smeller, I guess.

Thanks for the feedback.

Anne McDermott

Hi there

We have a 2 year old F3 labradoodle who due to being "poodly" doesn't really have any doggy odour. However, he has the most awful smell around his chin area, reagardless of how many times this area is washed. It smells like vomit/sour milk and is so strong even a day after washing that you know when he walks in the room without looking for him!! We keep his hair short around his mouth and I have opened his mouth and his breath is fine. He only started with this at around 7 months of age but its getting unbearable. Do you have any ideas what it could be please?


Hello, Anne,

The only similar case that comes to mind was a Springer Spaniel, which is pretty drooly to start with. That particular dog had little pockets of skin in his lower lips. Every dog has a sort of fold, but this was deep enough that it retained saliva, and often bits of food, as well.

Because it stayed wet all the time, there was bacterial and fungal growth and consequent odor.

Rather than use antiseptic wipes all day long, we elected to do a little plastic surgery and eliminate the pocket.

Does your dog have anything similar, or an area that just stays wet?


Hi there,
I have a 8 month old Bull Arab and he has stunk and scratched for almost 6 months, its a strong odour that makes us not want to pat him. I can't identify the smell only that it doesn't smell like feet, ammonia or wet dog, the smell is definitely coming from his skin. He has had skin scrapings and they revealed nothing. He also has a very raw tip of his tail, he keeps hitting it and blood goes everywhere, it also is bald for a good 4 inches from the tip up. The Vets we use haven't been able to diagnose anything worthwhile, he's been on anti-biotics and special shampoo but nothing stops the itching or smelling. He has also bitten away a bald patch on the trunk of his body from it being itchy. We also regularly clean up after he has vomited up dry grass that he has eaten, he wakes us up wretching in the middle of the night long after he has eaten. We have him on allergy free prescription food but again its not really working. Please help.


Even though the skin scrapings have been negative, the dermatologists tell me that itchy young dogs "have scabies until proven otherwise". In other words, when we can't find an obvious cause, we treat for scabies (sarcoptic mange) to rule it out. We usually use Revolution, three times at two-week intervals.

The tail will probably require bandaging, which is doable, but pretty tough. It's easy for the dog to take it off. Takes a lot of work to stay with it until the tail heals.

It sounds like your veterinarians have been hitting all the other bases pretty thoroughly. While it is unusual for a dog this age to have true allergies, some do (especially English Bulldogs and Chinese Shar Peis).

It sounds like your veterinarians are working around to ruling out everything else before treating for allergy by using corticosteroids.

Good luck.

linda purvis

I have a golden retriever that has kidney falure. she has had it for 3 years now. She has this foul smell that is just horrible. she is in the pool a lot and it always smells worse when she is wet. I have tried to wash her and she still smells bad. it is not her ears or anal sacs. I was wondering if it might be due to her kidney problem. Can it cause her to smell bad thru her skin?


Hello, Linda,

Usually the only smell that shows up from high waste levels in the blood (uremia) is an ammonia smell on the dog's breath. That generally doesn't occur unless the dog is in terrible shape. In other words, she wouldn't feel like swimming - she'd just be moping around doing very little of anything.

Since you have checked ears and anal sacs, I suspect you have checked her mouth as well. Sometimes dogs with bad gum disease spread that smell when they lick or chew on themselves.

Share your concern with your veterinarian. This sounds like a hand-on type of problem.

Good luck.


hai my dog (a ridgeback/akita cross) always has this weird chimical smell not from his mouth but from his fur also he always feels like he has some oil on his coat he has a verry thik coat (as u can imagen) and i was just wondering if i can do something about the smell? grtz dorien


Hello, Dorien,

I really don't know what to tell you. It sounds like something that needs some first-hand examination. I'd recommend a visit to your veterinarian.

Best wishes.


I just came across your page and just wanted to add my experience with Natural Balance to Kat and Carrie's. I also just started both my dogs (one Westie/Poodle and one Westie/Bichon) on Natural Balance Sweet Potato/Chicken dry this past week and have noticed just in the first 2-3 days the smell of cat urine from their fur. At first, I thought one of them had rolled in something, but it has gotten stronger over the last couple of days. I'm really bummed about this because I switched due to stomach and skin issues they were having with another brand and this seemed to have done the trick. They aren't having the loose stools or the constant itching they were having and my Bichon has actually calmed down (big plus!). I'm willing to put up with it a while longer to see if their bodies adjust to it as long as the food itself isn't causing problems with their kidneys (this was the first thing I was worried about when I noticed it getting worse). Is that something I should be concerned about?


It's funny. This morning, after we first got up, the odor seemed to be very strong. A couple of hours later, after we'd gone out for a walk and they'd gone to the bathroom, the smell didn't seem to be noticeable at all. After we came back in and the Westie/Bichon ate some food, the smell seemed to return. I can't really tell whether her breath smells like urine because her whole body (including the fur around her mouth) smells like it. It didn't seem to be any stronger in her mouth and the mouth of the Westie/Poodle didn't smell like urine at all.


I have three Jack Russells. Two of which are pups of 6 months. My male pup is itchy- terribly. Has almost no fur left on feet or chest. We have hundreds of dollars in vet bills trying to clear this up. Advantix, K9 advantage, you name the bug stuff, we did it. We have him on grain free foods, have used dermatology sprays, benedryl for 6 weeks, cherry no bite spray... The only thing that makes him slightly better is wearing a shirt, he seems to feel restricted. However, this only prevents chewing at the areas that are covered.
He also has a strong odor. I like to say he smells like an outdoor beagle that hasn't been bathed. His chest is always sweaty feeling and we are at our wits end. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Oh, we are trying garlic now for the bug repellant. Trying to go natural to see if it helps. Also dye/ perfume free soaps/ detergents.


oh, wanted to add that we did 2 separate rounds of Revolution as well for our little guy.


Hello, Julbug,

If you have not asked for a referral to a veterinary dermatologist, I would say that the time has come to do so.

If these were my patients, I would want a specialist to see them. If that were not possible, I would want to get skin biopsies to a dermatopathologist (a pathologist who specializes in diseases of the skin).

It sounds like you and your veterinarian have been working very hard, but not achieving the results you need.

It really sounds like a trip to a specialist would save you money in the long run.

Good luck.


Thanks for the great information!


Hello, TexasSue,

You're welcome. Thanks for reading and writing.

shirley  harper

i have a beagel mix and even though i give tinkerbell a bath and wash out her cage she still smells like feet she is around 32pounds she loves to eat also can you please help me by telling me what the smell is thanks .............


Hello, Shirley,

I really don't know how to help you "long distance". If you read the original article, you know there are several reasons.

Take your dog to see your veterinarian and get some help.

Good luck.


ok thanks so much have a good day :)


Hi. We have a 2 1/2 year old Bernese Mountain Dog. Within the past two months he has developed a stink that just won't leave. The odor smells like vomit and varies in intensity. When we first smelled it we gave him a bath because we thought that he maybe rolled/sat in something stinky. Within a couple of days the smell was back. Somedays we can smell him from a few feet away, other days we only catch a whiff of it as he walks by or wags his tail. It has taken many "sniff tests" by us to finally determine that the smell seems to be coming from his rear, although we cannot pinpoint a a specific area. We expressed his anal sacs thinking that might be the problem but the smell of that was VERY different from the vomit odor.

We have not changed his diet at all. We've also brushed him out thinking that maybe he had a build up of dead fur - like the bath this seemed to help for a couple of days but then the stench was back. Any ideas on what this might be?


Hello, Nic,

This is not ringing any bells for me. With a Bernese, I'd be concerned about metabolic problems.

If your veterinarian hasn't done a thorough physical exam and some screening bloodwork (biochemistry profile) recently, I would talk to him/her about that.

Sorry I can't do a long-distance diagnosis for you.


I have two chiweenies who are inside dogs but go outside to pee. They are out there for a few minutes at the most and when they come back they reek and it's a terrible odor that just fills the room. I have given them baths snd smell good but as soon as they walk out that door and come back in they stink all over again. It's doesn't even matter if they just run in and our real fast or if it's hot or cold outside. They don't have any smelly was anywhere else. Any ideas?


Hello, Denise,

From your description, I'd be concerned about two things.

One would be the possibility of something nasty in your yard. Watch where they go, inspect the yard.

The other would be the possiblity of some urinary tract infection. If you can't find a nasty place in the yard, then I'd take them to your veterinarian for a good exam, and a urine check.

Good luck.


I have a golden retriever mix, he wasn't desex when I first had him (he was 2 yrs old back then) and he's entire body reeks all the time. I heard a theory that neutered dogs don't reek as much as the undesex one. But after he had the surgery up till now, we really don't think he smells any differently. Usually in less than 3 days after we bath him he will start having the doggy smell and a really strong one. We suspect his mouth is the primary source of the smell as it stinks the most (vet says he does not have teeth / gastric problem), but we couldn't relief that smell. Our old dog lives indoor and does not stink for up to 2 months, but the golden lives outdoor. Could that be part of the reason why he stinks?


Hello, Sonia,

Being outdoors is not a good reason to be stinky by itself. On the other hand, if there is something stinky that your dog is finding outdoors, that may be the problem.

A good test would be to bathe him and keep him in for 5 days or so, even if you have to board him somewhere. That will tell you whether or not it's in the yard.

Does the dog have deep skin folds around his lips? I have seen that with a Springer Spaniel. The folds held saliva and the bacterial growth made a really foul odor. We did some plastic surgery to eliminate the pocket and no more odor.

If your veterinarian cannot find the source of the odor, you might ask for referral to a dermatologist. Most odors are skin, mouth, ears or butt.

Good luck.


Hello, we have a 3 year old Pitt bull/ terrier mix and he is a very stinky dog. He is a house dog so we really are struggling with this. I bathe him regurly and have tried many different shampoos and even vinegar..he continues to stink about a hour after I bathe him. It's almost like he gets excited and then he stinks..his breath doesn't stink but I'm wondering if it could be something with his skin...is there any home remedies for this or any ideas of something I can get to bathe him in??? Any suggestions would be helpful....we l look be our dog but hate his smell..please help!!!


Hello, Nicole,

Itchy skin usually is the source of skin odor - excessive scratching produces excessive skin oil, which gets rancid-smelling very quickly.

Nasty mounts can spread their stink on the skin.

The excitement thing suggests that anal sacs may be part of the problem. Normally, they empty at the end of each bowel movement. However, some dogs stress and have a "butt-pucker" moment, which causes the secretion to empty and get smeared on the dog's hindquarters.

You can search the blog for anal sac problems and learn more about this.

I would ask your veterinarian to examine the dog's mouth, ears, skin and anal sacs.

Good luck.

Patty Young

My cocker spainiel is 3 years old. About a month ago his feet started to stink very badly. Baths dont help. He also is licking his feet. Can you help?


also he is groomed every 4-6 weeks


Hello, Patty,

Frequent foot-licking usually denotes an allergic problem.

Any kind of constant licking or chewing can cause secondary excess production of skin oil, which can produce a rancid odor. It also predisposes to infections with bacteria or yeast.

A microscopic examination of the goo between the toes is needed. Secondary problems need to be identified and treated. Then the primary problem can be investigated.

While I cannot give you long-distance diagnosis or treatment recommendations, I suspect that your veterinarian can do a cytology examination and get you started on treatment in a pretty rapid fashion.

Time for a trip to the doctor.

Good luck.


I have a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. Our vet just told me to start cleaning her mouth folds and her vulva fold. Is this something I can do with baby wipes between baths? She gets a bath every two weeks.


Hi Doc, thank you for your time. We have a chihuahua that has the same intense ammonia smell all over when we bathe her as did the ones in previous comments to you. As soon as she's dry, it goes away. Could you ask the Veterinary Information Network people about this since several of us have experienced it?
2nd question...will neutering 1 year old daschunds(2 brothers)stop them from marking their territory w/urine(inside house)? I've heard it would help if neutered early on, but what about now? I really appreciate your time, these are important issues for us.


Hello, Stacy,

I have posted a query about the ammonia smell. We'll see if anyone has any ideas.

Neutering primarily reduces intermale aggression. It may indeed help with this urine marking behavior.

It will still be important to make a strenuous effort to catch them in the act. Some type of non-personal discouraging stimulus (like a shaker can) to distract them, then take them to the potty spot.

Also, I would deodorize the marked spots with half and half vinegar and water to remove the pheromone smells.


The dermatologists did not have a good idea about this. They jokingly wondered if the dog urinates in the tub.

They did wonder if it is really an ammonia smell or just the "wet dog" smell.

They did ask about what type of shampoo is being used. So you might send me that info.

Karen Kuykendall

Hi, I have a 4 month old Golden Doodle puppy and he and his crate smell sooooo bad every time I come to let him out. I have bathed him, washed the crate several times, washed his blanket and toys several times, but it is always very smelly again quite quickly. For some reason as well every time he comes out his front legs are all wet. I think he is licking them or something. What can I do? My husband is getting really upset with the odor and says if we can't get rid of the smell that he'll have to go. :(


Hello, Karen,

I don't have a good answer for you. Some dogs salivate with mouth problems, but I would expect you would be seeing that at other times, as well.

I have had patients with extra skin in their lower lip folds that collects saliva and food, and that stinks.

My best recommendation would be to make an appointment with your veterinarian and take the dog when he is at his smelliest, crate and all.

Sorry I can't give you the long-distance help that I would like to.

Karen Kuykendall

Thanks for trying!! Do dogs sweat? His crate is upstairs in our house to be close to our bedrooms at night time. It is significantly warmer up there, could that maybe be a factor?

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