Why Does My Dog Smell Like Fish?

Do you ever wonder why your dog smells like fish? It’s a common question, and there are a few different reasons why it might happen. In this blog post, we will discuss the most common causes of fishy-smelling dogs and how to fix it. We will also provide some tips on how to keep your dog’s coat smelling fresh and clean!

Dogs smelling fishy is a common occurrence, and there can be many reasons why your dog’s smell may change. While some of the potential causes (such as ear infection, bacterial infection, or yeast infection) are relatively minor and easy to treat, others (like kidney issues, parasites, diabetes, gastrointestinal issues, urinary infection, abscess or infections) can be more serious. That’s why it’s important to consult with your vet.

Reasons Why Dogs Smell Like Fish?

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Ear Infection 

There are a few reasons why your dog might smell like fish. One possibility is that they have an ear infection. Ear infections are relatively common in dogs and can cause them to produce a foul-smelling discharge.

If your dog’s ears look red and irritated, it’s worth taking them to the vet to get checked out. Left untreated, they can lead to more serious problems like hearing loss or even meningitis. So it’s important to get them checked out if you notice any strange smells or behaviors emanating from your dog.

Bacterial Infection Of The Skin

Many dog owner’s ask the same question when they notice their dog smell like fish. The cause is usually a bacterial infection of the skin called dermatitis. This can be treated with antibiotics, but it’s important to get to the root of the problem to avoid it happening again in the future. 

Allergies are by far the most common cause, and most dogs who suffer from them will have other symptoms like itching and chewing. If your dog has never had allergies before, suddenly starting to smell like fish could be a sign that they’re developing them. 

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Yeast Infection Of The Skin

There could be a number of reasons why your dog smells like fish, but the most common one is a yeast infection of the skin. Yeast infections are caused by an overgrowth of a type of fungus called candida.

This can cause a wide range of unpleasant symptoms, including excessive scratching, licking and biting at the skin, hair loss, and – you guessed it – a fishy smell. The good news is that yeast infections can usually be treated relatively easily with antibiotics or antifungal medications.

Kidney Issues 

More often than not, when a dog smells like fish, it’s because they have kidney issues. This is because the kidneys are responsible for filtering out waste products from the blood, and when they’re not functioning properly, those waste products can build up and cause an unpleasant fishy odor.

In some cases, this may also be accompanied by other symptoms like increased urination, appetite changes, or weight loss.


One possibility is that he has dandruff, and the flakes from his skin are getting on his fur and causing the fishy odor. This could be due to excessive gland secretion. Dogs with dry skin often have dandruff, and the flakes of dead skin can mix with their sweat and create an unpleasant odor.

The good news is that you can help your dog by giving them a diet that’s high in Omega-3 fatty acids, which are beneficial for keeping their skin healthy.

You can also give them a bath using a gentle dog shampoo that will keep their skin hydrated, and you can use a humidifier to add moisture to the air in your home.

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Periodontal Disease

If your dog’s breath smells like fish, it’s likely due to periodontal disease. This is a condition of the gums and teeth that’s caused by bacteria buildup. The bacteria produce enzymes that break down the gum tissue and bone, which leads to bad breath.

Treatment for periodontal disease includes brushing your dog’s teeth regularly, feeding them dental chews, and taking them to the vet for professional cleanings.

Other Dental Issues

Dogs can have dental issues other than periodontal disease. Fishy breath in dogs can be indicative of oral infections, such as gingivitis. If your dog’s teeth are not properly cleaned on a regular basis, plaque and tartar can build up and lead to inflammation of the gums.

This can cause your dog’s breath to smell like fish (or any other sort of food). You can also buy dental chewys’ which help clean the teeth apart from being a treat.


One more reason is that they have an infestation of external parasites, like fleas or ticks. These creatures can cause your dog to scratch and bite at their skin, leading to irritation and an intense itch. In some cases, the biting can even cause open wounds that become infected.

The bacteria from these infections can produce a strong fishy odor. Anti-parasite treatment includes bathing your dog with prescription shampoos and usage of collars and anti-parasite talc.

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It’s possible that your dog smells like fish because of a condition called diabetes. One of the symptoms of diabetes is a strange odor coming from the dog’s mouth, and this smell can sometimes be mistaken for a fishy smell.

Also, When glucose levels become too high, excess ketones are produced which can cause a fishy smell. This smell is caused by high levels of ketones in the dog’s urine, and it can be handled by regulating the dog’s diet and getting them to exercise more.

Gastrointestinal Issues

It’s possible that your dog smells like fish because of a gastrointestinal issue. This can be due to many things, such as eating something that didn’t agree with them, having an infection, or ingesting a foreign object.

If you think this might be the case, it’s best to take your dog to the vet for a check-up. It could also be because your dog is experiencing a problem with their pancreas or liver, which can lead to the release of bacteria that smells like fish.

Urinary Infection

A possible explanation is that your dog has a urinary infection. The fish-like smell is caused by bacteria that produce a compound called methyl mercaptan.

This compound is also responsible for the smell of rotting eggs or cabbage. If your dog has a urinary infection, he will need to be treated with antibiotics.

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It’s possible that your dog smells like fish because of a condition called pyometra. Pyometra is an infection of the uterus, and it often causes a fishy odor. Other symptoms of pyometra include lethargy, vomiting, and diarrhea.

If you think your dog may have pyometra, please take her to the veterinarian for treatment. Remember Pyometra is only in female dogs.


Abscesses are caused by bacterial infection, and they often have a foul smell. If your dog’s fishy smell is accompanied by other symptoms such as fever, reluctance to eat or drink, swelling, or redness, then it’s definitely worth taking him to the vet.

Abscesses can be treated with antibiotics if caught early enough, but if left untreated they can cause serious health problems.


Another possibility is that your dog has an anal gland impaction. Anal glands are two small sacs located just below your dog’s base of his tail on either side. They are also sometimes called “scent glands” because they hold a strong-smelling liquid.

One common reason for a dog to smell like fish is an impaction in the anal glands. The anal glands are small, sac-like structures that empty out onto the surface of the anus. Their primary purpose is to secrete a fluid that helps with bowel movements.

It lubricates the stool and gives it a scent that lets other dogs know when something has gone through this particular area. When something goes wrong and the fluid doesn’t get expelled, bacteria can grow and cause an intense fishy smell.

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Anal Sac Tumor 

It’s possible that your dog smells like fish because he has an anal sac tumor. Anal sac tumors are relatively rare in dogs, but they do occur, and they can cause a fishy smell. Anal sac tumours can sometimes be visible to the eye. In any event it is better to be aware of the symptoms in such cases.

Signs Of Anal Sac Issues

  1. If you notice a lump or lumps near the rectum, this may be a sign of impacted anal sacs. 
  2. It’s not exactly a glamorous topic, but if you’ve ever noticed your dog scooting their butt along the ground, it could be a sign of anal sac issues. This could also be due to worms. So try deworming first.
  3. One of the most common signs is difficulty defecating. If your dog is straining to poop or seems in pain when they go, it’s possible that their anal sacs are affected.
  4. You may notice them vocalizing or crying out while they are defecating. This is due to the pressure and pain caused by the full anal sacs.
  5. If your dog is excessively licking or biting at their backside, it could be a sign that they’re feeling discomfort or pain from their anal sacs.
  6. Sign of discomfort before they poop. They may roam around too much, sit or strain, sniff around in circles too many times etc.
  7. Blood or pus in stools can be a sign of anal sac issues. These are externally visible signs that you must not miss.
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What Should You Be Aware Of?

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Small Breeds 

Dogs with small anal sacs are more prone to developing problems with them, such as impacted sacs, abscesses, and tumors. This is because the smaller anal sacs are not as effective in expressing their contents when the dog defecates. This means small dog breeds are prone to have anal sac issues.

Obese Dogs 

Put simply, obese dogs are more prone to anal sac issues. When a dog is obese, there is more tissue around the anal area, which can put pressure on the anal glands and cause them to become irritated. Additionally, obese dogs tend to have less muscle tone in their back end, which can also contribute to anal gland problems. Finally, fat deposits in the area can make it difficult for the sacs to empty properly, leading to further irritation. 

Dogs Prone To Environment Allergies 

Dogs with allergies are more prone to anal sac problems. The anal sacs produce a smelly substance that is used for marking territory. When a dog becomes allergic to something in his environment, the anal sacs become irritated and may leak.

Dogs Having Hypothyroidism 

Dogs that are prone to anal sac issues are typically those with hypothyroidism. This is because when dogs have low levels of thyroid hormone, their metabolic rate slows down significantly, including the rate at which the anal sacs secretes.

What To Do If Your Dog Is Smelling Fishy?

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High Fiber Diet 

Start by feeding your dog a high-fiber diet. Dogs that eat a lot of processed foods (like kibble) can sometimes develop a fishy smell because their digestion isn’t as good as it could be. A high-fiber diet will help clean out their digestive system and get rid of any bad bacteria that might be causing the fishy smell.


You can also try giving your dog probiotics to help improve his digestion. Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that help keep the gut healthy and function properly. You can find probiotic supplements at most pet stores, or you can give your dog raw yogurt or kefir which are both high in probiotics.

Gland Expression 

If your dog is smelling fishy, it might be time to get their anal glands expressed. Anal gland expression is the process of manually emptying your dog’s anal sacs, which are two small sacks located just inside your dog’s anus. It is important that you consult your vet first and assess whether he or she requires gland expression. And if required, learn the same from the vet rather than following videos.

Gland Wipes 

If your dog is smelling fishy, it may have a fishy odor because of an overactive sebaceous gland. You can use gland wipes to clean the area and help to reduce the smell. If the smell persists or gets worse, you should take your dog to the vet. Gland wipes are used externally, however, do take care not to press too much.

Pro Tip: Do remember to always consult your veterinarian since a professional opinion can never be substituted. Problems such as these need careful assessment and treatment. The addition of high fiber etc. are accompaniments and not a course of treatment in itself. A visit to the vet will help find the right cause and also rule out other issues.

Preventive Steps 

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Dietary Changes

The first step is to make dietary changes, including adding omega-3 fatty acids to your dog’s diet. Omega-3 fatty acids are known to help reduce inflammation, and they can help improve the smell of your dog’s breath.

You can also try feeding your dog a diet that is low in fat and high in fiber. This will help keep their digestive system running smoothly and decrease the amount of gas they produce.

Dental Care

You should also clean your dog’s teeth regularly with a toothbrush and toothpaste designed for dogs. Tartar buildup on teeth can create an unpleasant odor, so keeping your dog’s teeth clean is an important part of preventing bad breath.

Observe Stool Formation 

There are a few things you can do to help prevent your dog from smelling fishy. One of the most important is to observe stool formation. If your dog’s stool is soft and watery, it will smell more fishy than if it is hard and formed.

Exercise & Weight Gain Monitoring

The best way to prevent your dog from smelling fishy is by monitoring their weight and ensuring they get plenty of exercise. A dog that is overweight is more likely to smell fishy, as are dogs who don’t get enough exercise.

Additionally, you should monitor their diet and make sure they’re not eating too many fatty foods that could cause them to smell bad. By following these simple preventive steps, you can help keep your dog’s skin healthy and smelling good.


There are a few things you can do to help prevent your dog from smelling fishy. One is to make sure they always have access to clean water. Fishy odor is often caused by dehydration, so keeping your dog well-hydrated will help reduce the smell.

You can also feed them a high-quality diet that includes plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. 


Proper grooming – This includes regular baths (frequency will depend on your dog’s breed and activity level), brushed teeth, and trimmed nails. Grooming not only helps keep your dog clean and smelling fresh, but it also allows you to observe any changes in their body, such as skin irritation or rashes.

What Should You Know About Marking ?

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Dogs mark their territory for a variety of reasons. The most basic reason is to simply declare ownership of an area. This helps to keep other dogs away and maintain control of their home turf. Dogs also use urine to communicate with other members of their pack. By leaving scent markers, they can relay messages such as “I was here,” “I’m looking for a mate,” or “stay away.”

In some cases, marking behavior may be related to anxiety or insecurity. Dogs who feel threatened or stressed may urinate more frequently in order to calm themselves and feel safer. Of course, sometimes dogs just have to go!

If your dog seems to be marking constantly, it’s important to Have him checked out by a veterinarian to rule out medical issues. In these cases the urine makes the place smell like fish. So do assess the circumstances before you worry. Nevertheless, remember, a visit to the vet is always the best way.

Wrapping Up:

If your dog is suddenly giving off a fishy smell, don’t panic just quite yet. There are many potential causes for this change in scent, and most of them can be easily treated with the help of a veterinarian. However, it’s important to rule out any underlying health conditions that could be causing the fishy smell before taking any steps to address it. Remember to consult the vet in these matters – they will be able to give you an accurate diagnosis and provide you with the necessary treatment plan. 

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