Why does my dog ​​smell like fish and what can I do about it? | great dog (2023)

In addition to the foul odor, a fishy-smelling dog can indicate medical issues that need attention. We analyze all possibilities and treatments.

You may be wondering, "Why does my dog ​​smell like fish?"

If your dog gives off a fishy odor, it could be due to various infections or illnesses, or even that he has recently consumed a fish snack or fish oil supplement capsule. However, any worrying odor means it may be time to consult a veterinarian.

However, the most common reason for a fishy odor is secretions from the anal glands.

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The reason your dog smells like fish

Anal gland secretions usually give off a fishy odor because they are filled with a collection of sweat glands that can create unwanted odors. The anal sacs are located near your dog's anus and act as scent markers when your dog has a bowel movement.

A strange smell can also emanate from your dog's anal glands when he becomes startled or nervous. Most of the time, the anal glands give off a fishy smell. So if your dog smells like he's recently walked a fish-lined beach, you might want to check his anal glands. They may be affected and need to secrete.

What are the anal glands?

More specifically, the anal glands serve to mark territory to ward off predators. Due to domestication, many dogs have to have their anal glands removed by a vet as they cannot be released naturally.

Isanal glandsThey're located between the internal and external sphincters, which are muscles that help your dog hold feces in the rectum until it's time to defecate. There are two openings on each side of the dog's anus where they empty. As stool passes through the rectum, muscles squeeze the anal sacs, which release their contents into the stool.

If the anal sacs are not released, they may become overfilled and their thick liquid may clog the anal sacs opening. This condition can cause discomfort and sometimes infection or abscesses.

anal sac disease

When anal sac problems cause a fishy odor in your dog, the most common problem is a simple impaction. But anal sac problems can also be the result of an infection, an abscess, or even cancer. It's important to take your dog in for an evaluation if the condition worsens.



Impaction is when the contents of your dog's anal sacs are not ejected properly. Anal sacs that are visibly swollen or hot to the touch are often affected and need to be removed. Impactions can occur when your dog has soft feces that aren't firm enough to release the anal sacs during defecation. There may also be an anomaly in the sacs making release difficult.

infection and/or abscess

If the fluid buildup has led to infection and an abscess, anal bleeding or drainage will occur, which may indicate a tear. Of course, a fishy smell is also an important indicator. These types of infections are often unbearable for your dog and need to be treated right away.

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An anal sac tumor is evident when your dog's anal sacs are tight and enlarged. The tumor normally prevents any expression; Therefore, a veterinarian must identify and treat the tumor.


When a dog cannot free its overfilled anal sacs, it usually scoots across the floor in a sitting position to try to empty the anal sacs. The buildup usually causes itching, irritation, and inflammation.

Also, a dog may start biting, licking, or scratching its rear end. Other signs include a dog that has its tail between its legs or appears to be walking clumsily.

How to get rid of my dog's fishy smell from his anal glands

There are a few ways to get rid of a dog's fishy odor. If your dog's anal glands are affected or infected, it's important to see a veterinarian or groomer. Trained professionals will massage the glands to release their contents.

If anal congestion is a chronic condition in your dog, you can learn to express his or her own anal glands. Ask your vet to show you how to do it properly. It's usually pretty easy and barring other complications like infection etc you can save yourself a trip to the vet or groomer by doing it yourself.

For dogs suffering from an abscess, veterinarians will often prescribe pain relievers and antibiotics. Anal sac abscess may also require surgery in extreme cases.

If a vet has determined cancer to be the cause of the disease, your dog may need to undergo chemotherapy, surgery, or radiation therapy to treat it, depending on the type of cancer.

Prevention of anal sac diseases

Although it is difficult to prevent thisanal sac diseaseA high-fiber diet will naturally help your dog express their anal bags. Obese dogs are also more prone to anal sac disease, so it's important that your dog exercise regularly.

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Additionally, it's important to keep an eye on your dog's feces to spot blood or pus, which can indicate anal sac disease.

Dogs prone to anal sac disease

In general, large breed dogs rarely have problems related to anal sac disease. Impactions are more common in small breed dogs like Beagles, Cocker Spaniels, Chihuahuas, and Miniature Poodles.

Older dogs or obese dogs are also at a higher risk of developing anal sac disease.

Other reasons your dog may smell fishy

While anal sac disease is the most common reason for your dog's fishy odor, additional medical conditions should also be considered.

Urinary tract infection

A urinary tract infection (UTI),What is common in diabetic dogs?, it can also cause a fishy, ​​foul-smelling odor. When this happens, the dog's diluted urine facilitates further bacterial growth. Left untreated, UTIs can travel through the urinary tract and infect the kidneys, which can be extremely dangerous for your dog.

read oursComprehensive overview of urinary tract infections in dogs, including symptoms and treatments.


Pyometra, an infection of the uterus of non-neutered bitches, is another possible cause. It usually occurs in middle-aged bitches and develops as a result of hormonal changes. Elevated levels of progesterone can cause the lining of the uterus to thicken and secrete fluids, optimizing the environment for bacterial growth, infection, and fishy odors.

Symptoms of pyometra include fatigue and depression. Dogs can also stop eating and exhibit an elongated abdomen that is painful to the touch. Pyometra can also lead to kidney infections. So if your dog is drinking or urinating more often than normal, his body may be trying to flush harmful bacteria from his kidneys.

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If this happens, take your dog to the vet immediately as there is a risk of sepsis. Removing the dog's uterus requires surgery. In order to prevent pyometra, it is important to have your dog spayed.

Fungal disease

Fungal diseases can also affect your dog:fungal infectionsIt usually occurs when a dog is exposed to fungal soil and inhales the fungal spores.

The spores can spread through the bloodstream and lymphatic muscles, causing loss of appetite, weight loss, breathing problems, eye disease, or skin sores. Call your veterinarian right away to schedule antifungal treatment if these issues persist for your dog.

periodontal disease

If your dog's mouth smells fishy, ​​he may have kidney disease, diabetes, etcperiodontitisdue to inflammation or infection of the gums, which is common in most dogs. To prevent this type of oral disease, brush your dog's teeth with an enzymatic toothpaste two or three times a week to prevent the build-up of plague.

If your dog is brush resistant, maintaining a healthy diet for your dog can help prevent harmful buildup or provide special chewable treats that help prevent tartar build-up.

Gastrointestinal complaints

Gastrointestinal disorders usually occur when your dog suffers from some type of food allergy. Symptoms include excessive belching or indigestion.

Your dog may also vomit their food, drool, or try to swallow air. Vets usually prescribe antacid medications to help manage symptoms. There are also a number ofHome remedies for your dog's upset stomach.

other causes

Less extreme causes include your dog's diet or environment. A fishy-smelling dog may have recently ingested fish oil, a dietary supplement that helps support your dog's diet, prevent itching, relieve joint pain, and improve coat health. Also, your dog may smell fishy if he's recently wrapped himself in something smelly.

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final thoughts

There are several possible reasons why your dog smells like fish, and many of them require medical attention. So don't ignore the problem if you don't know the source of the fishy smell.


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