While many odors are normal, some may be signs of health problems. Either way, odors shouldn’t be ignored. The good news is that, with the proper care and grooming, your precious pooch can come out smelling like a rose.
Making sense of scents
A dog’s hair, like human hair, grows, dies, and gets replaced. But that’s where the similarity ends. A dog’s hair is porous and may retain odors. Some breeds have oily "haircoats" which easily accumulate matter and hold onto odors until removed with the appropriate shampoo. Experienced groomers and veterinarians can often diagnose the source of a pet’s odor with just a quick whiff or two.
Find the cause
In many cases, bad odors stem from matter lying on the skin or coat. For example, if your pet is sprayed by a skunk, the odor stems from the oil which remains on the pet’s skin and coat. It is so difficult to remove that a professional skunk odor treatment is often the only recourse.
Many dogs also like to "scent camouflage" themselves by rolling in things, such as feces or decaying matter. In these situations, a professional groomer will assess the problem, and find a suitable shampoo and treatment.
Bad odors can also be indicative of an illness or disease:
- Bad breath – Dental plaque and infected teeth and gums can produce a very foul odor. Some diseases, including kidney failure and diabetes, can cause a change in breath. Excess saliva can also coat a pet’s fur, resulting in an unpleasant smell.
- Infected ears – produce a foul odor.
- Anal glands/sacs – When a dog has a bowel movement, these sacs normally release a smelly, oily secretion. If the sacs become infected or impacted, the result can be painful (and odiferous). The oily substance may be secreted on the fur, causing a very bad odor.
If any of these problems are suspected, consult your veterinarian.
Because of the hair’s ability to absorb odors, a dog may be a little more "smelly" after he has spent time in closed quarters with other pets, such as at the dog park or in boarding kennel. Additionally, some dogs become so excited by being with other dogs that they may not be as tidy as usual. A go-home-fresh bath after a boarding stay is always a good idea, so pets return home "nice to be near".
Follow your nose
Be sure to tell your groomer about any unusual odors coming from your pet. If the odor disappears after grooming, but consistently returns, speak to your veterinarian. If you maintain a regular grooming schedule, and be sure to use the proper treatments, you’ll have a perfumed pooch who’s a pleasure to have around.