By Dr. Andrew Jones
If your dog smells, and you are thinking twice about even having your dog inside, then you definitely need to read this article. Your dog does produce a ‘normal’ odor, primarily through the variety of glands found in their skin, ears, and paws. But your dog can also have a serious and unpleasant smell, such as from skin infections, and other disorders. This article will show you the most common causes of dog odor, and how you can diagnose the cause of your dog’s bad smell. I will then show you to most important natural options to quickly and easily stop your dog’s foul odor.
The first thing that you need to do is diagnose exactly what is causing the dog odor. Start by properly examining your dog’s mouth, and seeing if they have bad breath. Carefully look at the gums and teeth, looking for signs of gum recession, and tooth root abscess. This would require veterinary care. Some dogs with halitosis (bad breath), respond well to remedies for plaque; I have had particular success using a product called Plaque Off.
Ear infections are one of the more common causes of unpleasant dog odor, so you should thoroughly examine your dog’s ears. Look at the outside of the ear ( the pinna) and closely look into the external ear canal. It should be clear, a light pink color, and free of any debris. Yeast infections are common in the ear, and they often produce a dark brown, waxy discharge. They respond well to cleaning with dilute Apple Cider Vinegar and water.
The anal glands are often implicated as a source of doggie odor, especially if the smell is ‘fishy’. These are scent glands, which historically were important, yet now they are just a nuisance. The glands are normally expressed when your dog has a bowel movement, but can become impacted, and sometimes infected producing the strong smell. You can check your dog’s glands, ( use a lubricated rubber glove), inserting your index finger in their anus, palpating the glands at 10 o clock ( on the left), and 2 o clock ( on the right). Apply firm pressure with your thumb and index finger to express the gland. Infected glands are generally weeping, open and very painful; they require veterinary care.
Skin disorders are the most common cause of recurring and strong dog odor; skin infections secondary to allergies is what is most often diagnosed. If your dog has a history of itching, or recurring ear infections, then they likely have some type of allergy. There are a variety of treatments for allergies, but I find it most important to stop the itching, and supplement to decrease inflammation. An antihistamine called Benadryl can be given a the dose of .5mg per lb – give it twice a day if needed. Vitamin C is a ‘natural’ antihistamine, that can be dosed at 100mg per 10lbs daily. High doses of essential fatty acids are critical, and the usual advised doses I find are too low. You should supplement your dog with either flax oil or fish oil, giving 1000mg per 10lbs daily. That equates to giving 1 tablespoon of flax per 50lbs daily.
Every dog with chronic dog odor problems, or ongoing allergies, should be on a hypoallergenic type dog food. I suggest that you feed your dog a food of simple ingredients, such as fish and sweet potato. Some clients have claimed that raw food was the answer to stopping the allergies and ending their dog’s bad smell.
The last, but often most important step in treating your dog’s odor problem is with proper bathing and shampoos. Often the smell is from secondary bacteria ( such as Staph), which overgrow in response to the allergy. Choose a medicated type shampoo that is designed to treat mild bacterial skin infections; I prefer ones that contain Sulfur and Salicylic acid. A holistic dog shampoo that can help is Tea Tree Oil & Aloe Vera Shampoo. Regardless, the key here is to wet your dog, lather them up and leave on their skin for 10 full minutes; use a clock. You must leave the shampoo on for a long enough period of time to be effective. After 10 minutes, thoroughly rinse. You can safely do this twice a week until the skin no longer smells.
Fear not- if your dog has a strong odor, there is a large number of things that you can do. Be systematic, carefully diagnosing the precise cause of the smell, and then following that up with veterinary care, or an appropriate remedy. If your dog has a skin infection, use some of the remedies I have discussed, in particular the shampoo, but doing it properly.
Dr Andrew Jones
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