What to do when your dog smells like fish?


Does your dog smell like fish? Although you love your pet, having it cuddling up to you while it reeks of fish can be too unpleasant to bear. It can appear as if your canine friend has gorged on dead trout fish in the local river while you were away from home. While dogs generally have a foul breath, a fishy smell can be particularly bad to bear. Find out why your dog smells like fish and what you can do to fix this problem.

What Makes Dogs Smell Fishy?

Bad breath (sometimes also referred to as halitosis) results when there is buildup of bad bacteria in the mouth, stomach or lungs. Dogs are especially vulnerable to plaque, gum disease and tartar, all of which can be contributory factors to bad breath. Breeds with short nose and flat face, as well as small dogs, are especially vulnerable to bad breath problems, mainly because they have teeth placed closed together.

However, fishy smell arises when dogs lick their butt. If the anal glands are not emptied, it can pick up a fishy smell. Whenever dogs relieve themselves, the anal sacs excrete some fluid. Once the gland fills up, the anal gland fluid is infected and affected within. When your dog licks its butt, the infected fluid goes to its tongue and the mouth smells fishy therefore. The question is, why does it lick its butt? A minor case of affected anal sacs causes some discomfort, and it licks its butt to relieve this annoyance.

However, foul breath similar to fishy smell can also result from liver disease, kidney disorder or worms.

How to Fix Your Dog’s Fishy Smell?

The solutions can be slightly tricky. Vets generally check the status of dogs, and recommend expressing its anal glands. Most dogs are able to express glands automatically, which naturally happens once they excrete.

However, glands have to expressed in some dogs that get backed up. In most dogs that get backed up, extracting does not have to be done over 1 – 2 times. After glands are extracted or emptied, fishy odor can go away with the passage of time.

What if the Fishy Odor Recurs?

The fishy smell should end with an expressed anal gland. However, if the odor recurs very soon, there could be a situation that its anal glands have to be expressed again and again. In case the anal sacs of your pup are impacted perpetually, your vet can put it on a high fiber diet. The additional fiber is intended to add more weight to the poop, and make it exert further pressure over the anal glands once the stools pass through. The extra pressure will consequently compel the anal glands to function properly.

If the problem persists, your vet might recommend an Anal Sacculectomy, which is a surgical process. As the name indicates, this method involves removing the anal glands. This is a comparatively easier process. Although incontinence problems can be experienced by your pooch afterward, these side effects arise only rarely.


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