Why Does My Dog Smell Like Fish?

Why Does My Dog Smell Like Fish Feature Image

Have you been getting a fish-like smell from your dog? Is it worrying and disturbing you at the same time? Well, the truth is that the smell of dog could end up particularly bad because they either have a yeast infection on his feet, ears, skin, or due to some malfunction with his anal glands.

There are various recommendations in place for this kind of dog problem. Although there can be other circumstances that lead to this dog smell. Several undiagnosed health conditions could lead to digestive system discomfort, allergies, bodily irritation, and eventually an unbearable “fishy” stench.

What Causes Your Dog To Smell Like Fish?

We shall give you more than one answer to your question: “Why does my dog smell like fish?”. Here are a bunch of possibilities that may trouble your dog and further make your dog smell like fish.

1. Feeling Scared

When your dog faces a fearful experience, he may either instantly poop or release a scent from the anal glands. This scent-only excretion gives out a fishy smell, irrespective of whether with a motion being passed or not.

Factually speaking, the anal glands in dogs smell fishy naturally. No matter the breed, whether a poodle, beagle, bulldog, or labrador amongst others, a sense of fear can easily lead to the ‘fishy’ stink.

You Might Want To Bring Them For A Bath After Checking Their Rear End For Why Dogs Stink

2. Yeast Infections

Yeast infections multiple in amounts when in warmer places. Whether at home or anywhere else, make sure your dog is not left in hot conditions for too long.


Yeast infections directly showcase their negative effects on your dog’s eyes, feet, and ears. It can lead to a swelling on these spots, especially on the eyes due to tear discharge. In some cases, consistency in the growth of these spots leads to pus formation, and an increased amount of harmful bacteria spread.

A dog fishy smell can be caused when this yeast formation is visible. For example, mixing yeast with water will smell like fish. Even tears or water on your dog’s yeast spots can enhance the fish smell.

Dogs can also develop these infectious spreads around their tail. If you notice your dogs not wagging their tail, just have a look behind the bottom of it.


Apart from hygiene and antibiotics, the best way to treat yeast infections is by limiting your pup’s carbohydrate intake. If your dog’s breath smells like fish or your dog generally imparts a bad odor, try and alter their diet to eliminate simple carbs. If the dog food has extra carbs, it will easily break down sugar and help the yeast grow.

Yeast issues can be controlled if you remove foods like lentils, peas, potatoes, legumes, etc. from your dog’s diet. The risk of odors from these secretions can also be curbed by applying oregano oil, apple cider vinegar, or kefir. Ideally, dietary treatment for yeast infections is the go-to solution.

A Dog’s Anal Glands Could Also Be A Warning Sign

3. Anal Gland Disorder

A dog’s anal glands, also known as anal sacs, are found on either side of their anus. These anal sacs give out a specific smell that is typically used in the case of territory marking. When your dog loses control over his anal sacs, anal gland problems can arise.


Diarrhea and loose stools along with dogs anal gland smell is an indicator of anal sac problems. Even worse, their stools would be accompanied by a smelly fluid. This fluid excretion is a practice by your dog to manage anal sac disease and other complications. If your dog is scooting the rear end of his body on the ground often, it can indicate an anal sac disease.


Dogs’ anal glands smell like fish when they experience difficulty in stool formation and bowel movement. Give them dog foods that are cooked without much taste considerations and are high in moisture. This gives birth to firmness in your dog’s stool. Eventually, the impaction allows to firm up and reduce stool volume.

On the side, give your dog meals that are rich in fiber. This strengthens the glands in and around the anus, thus making it easier to express a dog’ anal glands. Make sure you keep your dog away from relying on dry food habits.

Other Than UTI, Make It A Point To Check Your Dog’s Anal Glands

4. Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)

If a female dog smells like fish, it is a clear indication of health problems. In such a situation, an expert examination is one of the few solutions.


If your dog’s urine is giving out a strong odor, she probably has an infection in the urinary tract. Look for signs such as blood in the urine or pain during urination.

There could also be swelling or inflammation in the uterus, leading to a uterine infection. This is evident through low energy levels, greater thirst, or an irregular diet. Expect to notice the removal of puss through the vagina of your dog. A female dog smells fishy due to this and may need to undergo veterinarian supervision.


Rather than waiting for skin disease, worse bowel movement, unbearable breath smell, or a number of other health conditions, your pet needs to undergo a urine test [1]. If the infection has led to a bloody and smelling liquid discharge, it is a matter of concern. This is the time when only a surgeon can treat your dog back to a healthy condition.

Pay Attention To Their Dental Hygiene

5. Periodontal Disease

Other reasons for your dog’s breath to smell this bad could be due to gum disease.


Look for abnormal patches around your dog’s teeth. There is a chance you will notice patches on the top or bottom of the tooth or even a dental abscess. At times, these mouth infections tend to be the prime reason for the fishy smell from dog s.

Due to their resilience to dental problems, you may see no sign of struggle. Although they may struggle with chewing food and drop it on the floor often.


Similar to humans, a dog is treated by cleaning the tarter and plaque from the infected areas. Depending on the stage of the infection, there may be residue on the treatment spot. You can also give your dog treats for bad breath.

A good approach to dental routine leads to dental comfort in all breeds. Irrespective of the abscess size and the part of the mouth, emptying the fluids must be a priority.

Female Dogs Have Higher Chances Of Smelling Bad Due To Vaginitis

6. Vaginitis Or Pyometra

This arises in the female sex and can lead to anything from an inability in emptying the stomach to weight loss and even struggling to walk.


Your dog may give out a sticky substance from her vagina. This process arises due to the lack of fiber-rich meals and plenty of unhealthy drinking water. A history of scooting, frequent vaginal touch, and a range of colors of the fluids discharged are the basis of developing Vaginitis. This issue can also be diagnosed by skin folds near the vaginal section and tail area.


The procedure for the treatment of Pyometra usually comes with surgery as the top option. First, you need to book an appointment with a vet and gather maximum information behind the possible cause of the fish-like smell.

Frequently Asked Questions

How often do dogs need their anals expressed?

Dogs express their anal glands twice a year, or even monthly, depending on the breed. Breeds such as Basset Hounds, Toy Poodles, and Cocker Spaniels need a monthly expression of their glands.

Any signs of blockage or failure in emptying the anal glands must be considered as a serious problem and something that can deteriorate dog health. Either increase their fiber intake or identify the core cause of the problem and do something to neutralize it.

Is it recommended to manually express my dog’s anal gland?

It is not recommended to manually express your dog’s anal glands. Squeezing their anal gland area manually could lead to infections and immense pain. If you decide to do so, let a groomer do it. The groomer has multiple options in case of methods to squeeze the glands. Swelling is the primary problem. Consider consulting with a vet before putting your pet through the grind.

What is a good source of fiber for dogs?

Good sources of fiber for dogs would be green beans and broccoli in bulk. In addition, the key is to add sprouts, cabbage, carrots, kale, pumpkin, and apples as extra sources of fibers.

Also, look for dog food brands that showcase a substantial amount of fiber content on their info label. On occasion, a meal course with roasted meat such as chicken, along with many vegetables, could induce a good amount of the specified nutrient.


You now have a bunch of reasons that answer the question “why does my dog smell like fish?”. As you know, the health of the anal sacs is a major factor if your dog is smelly. Dog smell like fish can be avoided if pet parents ensure their pet’s health is in top condition.

Dog owners are responsible for ensuring their dogs’ anal glands are comfortable expressing as and when needed. You can even attempt to eliminate these odors by washing them with shampoo.