As dog parents, we all experienced our share of funny scents coming from our pets. However, fishy smells still surprise us.

There are many reasons why your dog might smell like fish. Fortunately, it’s a natural reaction most of the time. Nevertheless, it’s key to know why this happens in order to prevent it; sometimes, a fishy odor means health issues.

Why Does My Dog Smell Like Fish?

Reasons range vastly: from harmless surprise to alarming digestive diseases. If we want to get rid of a fishy smell from our dogs, we first need to know why they smell like that.

Is It Normal For My Dog To Segregate Smells?

Totally! Dogs don’t smell others’ anuses just for fun: it’s a means of communication. For that reason, they segregate certain odors from their anal glands, which are two sacs that expel stinky oils.

Usually, dogs use these sacs to mark territory with their feces. However, these smells are barely noticeable for the human nose. Their great sense of smell allows them to pick up even the slightest of scents, which is why a pungent, fishy smell is quite abnormal.

Smelly Accidents

Whenever dogs are frightened, stressed, or too relaxed, they lose control of their fluids like they were puppies all over again.

Not only will they urinate, defecate and salivate more, but they’ll also produce more anal glands’ fluid. As a result, the sacs get filled, medically known as sacculitis, and start to get irritated and itchy.

If you see your pet rubbing their butts against the floor while they smell, this is why.

Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)

Despite its grossness, urine is really handy for knowledgeable owners: its color and smell indicate how healthy a dog’s digestive system is.

Sometimes, bacteria take over your dog’s urinary tract (between the urethra and the kidney) and cause an infection outbreak known as UTI. Since antibodies are fighting the infection, the urine will be very yellow, even bloody, with a strong stench.

Irritated Stomach

An upset stomach can also be the cause of stinky pee.

Dogs are very likely to catch intestinal parasites, so it’s not unusual for their urine and feces to become nastier. However, this is not the only way your pet’s stomach might be affected.

Unhealthy diets, especially spicy meals, bladder stones, kidney failure, incontinence, and dehydration are other frequent causes. Everything that disrupts how dogs process food and water is likely to change their pee.

Anal Sac Disease

This term refers to any condition that makes segregating anal glands’ oil more challenging.

Anal sac diseases all work the same: there’s an unnatural obstruction in your dog’s anal glands, making them swollen. When this organ is inflamed, the accumulation of sweat and feces will inevitably give birth to an infection in the anus.

If your dog has an anal sac disease, either you or a professional will have to drain the excess. The most notorious symptoms are excessive butt-rubbing and painful defecation.

Females’ Case

In contrast to males, female dogs are more prone to emit a fish-like scent.

Females’ genitalia are less protected than the males’: their external walls are not enough to repel foreign bacteria. This bacterium mixes with the natural yeast already present in a dog’s vagina and triggers a foul smell.

When the fishy odor appears, it means there’s an infection already. This infection must be treated immediately; if not, the infection might spread to the uterus or develop a UTI.

Why Does My Dog’s Breath Smell Like Fish?

Dogs have a reputation for having bad breath, but fishy breath is another story. A mouth’s pet that reeks of fish is typically a byproduct of dental issues, digestive problems, or an unbalanced diet.

  • Dental Issues

Mouth ulcers and other infections, swollen gums (gingivitis), decaying teeth, and tartar buildup (calculus) are a big concern to dogs. Animals with afflicted mouths will have a foul smell and will eat less and less thanks to chewing becoming painful.

Moreover, food can also get stuck in the mouth, that’s why it’s important to check on your dog’s oral hygiene regularly.

  • Digestive Problems

Liver and kidney disease heavily affect your dog’s breath.

On one hand, renal dysfunction leads to waste traveling through your dog’s bloodstream and digestive tract. Until the kidney becomes healthy again, urine will start to sweat in your pet’s mouth and paws.

On the other hand, a liver disease worsens how the stomach digests food. As a consequence, bile and acid reflux, alongside vomiting, diarrhea, and foul breath, become constant issues.

While undergoing one of these diseases, your dog will have other symptoms, such as foaming at the mouth and loss of appetite. Observe its behavior and progress carefully.

  • Unbalanced Diets

Since not all dogs have the same needs, certain diets are unbalanced for them.

Poor quality food and bad nutrition are the main culprits behind breath smelling like fish. Cheap second-hand kibbles contain chemicals that trouble your dog’s digestion. Consequently, their breath ends up unpleasant.

As for nutrition, it’s no mystery that living beings require a proper intake of vitamins to stay in shape. Vitamins B1, B2, B6, and B12 are a must for the kidney to function. Therefore, if your dog lacks vital minerals and vitamins, its breath and urine will stink.

How Do I Get Rid Of The Fishy Smell My Dog Has?

Unluckily, there are not many options available for us in this regard.

First and foremost, if this smell is not usual, then a bath should fix it. Of course, this is under the impression the anal glands had an unexpected leak. You might want to scrub that area in particular.

If the smell is indeed frequent, your best bet would be to upgrade your dog’s food to a finer quality. You won’t only notice how approachable your pet now is to your nose, but their overall health will also increase.

When a balanced diet is not enough, then it’s time to rely on the experts. Veterinarians will diagnose your pet’s condition with accuracy and treat them accordingly. If you’re concerned, just drop by just to make sure. Better safe than sorry.