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Why Does My Dog Smell Like Fish, and What to Do?

One of the great concerns of dog owners is the smell that their pets can emanate and permeate their homes. It is well known that some breeds of dogs can smell bad. Many unpleasant scents can come from these animals, but one of them is the smell of fish.

The smell of fish is very unpleasant to people’s noses, but it could also mean that the canine has a medical problem. That is why it is important to know the causes of this odor in dogs and what we should do to prevent or eliminate it.

My Dog Smell Like Fish

While dogs can stink for various reasons, fishy odors usually result from anal gland problems and infections. The anal glands are small sacs located in the anus of these animals, which secrete an unpleasant odor due to the sweat glands in them.

The secretions produced by the sweat glands generally represent an odor marker. This is a special odor for other dogs, which is why they tend to approach the feces of one with problems in their anal glands. As we have already said, many people liken this smell to a fish’s.

Not all breeds of dogs are characterized by emanating this smell, and it is usually common in canines more prone to anal gland problems. People who want to acquire dogs of these breeds may be concerned and question whether they should really bring them home.

If you are one of those people, you should not worry as there are ways to deal with these odors, but before knowing them, it is necessary to see the reasons why these animals smell like fish.

Reasons Why Dogs Smell Like Fish

It is important to know the reasons why dogs smell like fish since, in many cases, this can be due to a medical problem that we must treat immediately.

Keep in mind that the main causes of this unpleasant odor are related to problems with the anal glands of canines. Generally, these problems tend to affect small dog breeds.

Anal Sac Disease

It is a term used to generalize anal gland problems.

One of the most common problems of the anal glands is abscesses, usually caused by infections. These anal gland abscesses are usually extremely painful and need immediate veterinary attention as they could cause more severe problems.

Besides abscesses and infections, tumors are usually serious problems affecting the anal glands and causing unpleasant odors. Tumors can cause the glands to become enlarged and not work properly.

As you might guess, the most common symptom of anal gland problems is a fishy odor. However, some others are:

  • Irritation in that area
  • Itching
  • Pain
  • Blood in the stool


Diarrhea can also cause an unpleasant fishy smell, and that usually occurs due to gastrointestinal problems. When the canine defecates, the smell is impregnated around the anus.

That means that if the dog scratches its butt on the floor or sits on the furniture, those places will be impregnated with that unpleasant smell.

Occasionally, diarrhea caused by gastrointestinal diseases may be accompanied by other symptoms.

In case that happens, do not hesitate to take your pet to the vet as quickly as possible before the problem worsens. Antibiotics and a healthy, balanced diet can quickly treat gastrointestinal problems.


When a person farts, these gases usually have a bad smell. Gas in dogs is no exception; this can be worse in breeds prone to anal gland problems. In these types of canines, the gases can have a fishy odor.

It is important to note that not all gases from these animals smell fishy. The fishy smell is usually due to the canine consuming inappropriate food for its body. A good idea would be to change its diet, but it is advisable to consult with the veterinarian.

Urinary Tract Infections

The fishy smell can also come from dog urine. An infection usually causes this in the urinary tract, which not only causes that unpleasant smell but also a lot of pain when urinating.

One way to detect this problem is when dogs urinate more frequently than usual and drink lots of water. If you notice these symptoms in your pet and, apart from that, its urine smells fishy, ​​then do not hesitate to take it to the vet to receive the appropriate treatment.

What Can We Do to Eliminate the Smell of Fish in Dogs?

Unless you have experience as a veterinarian, trying to medicate your pet on your own is never recommended, especially if you do not have the necessary knowledge.

A veterinarian is the best option to treat your dog when it gives off a fishy odor since, as we have seen in the previous section, several health problems can influence this.

Despite that, there are some things we can do to prevent and, in some cases, eliminate the fishy smell of these animals:

Bathe Your Dog

Bathing your dog can be the solution for the smell of fish and other bad smells produced by sweat or mud. Remember that these animals love to play outside and are constantly exposed to getting dirty.

It is important to thoroughly wash each part of the dog’s body, especially the rear area. You must do it carefully as this is a sensitive area. In fact, after bathing it, you could use wipes and other special supplements to treat the anal glands.

Give Your Pet a Good Diet

As we have said above, some canines can be sensitive to various foods. You can consult a veterinarian to create a suitable diet for your pet. Many professionals recommend diets based on high-fiber foods, which are excellent for the anal sacs.

A diet based on meats, vegetables, and fruits will keep your dog healthy and full of energy.