Why Your Dog Smells “Doggy”

dog smell

Ask a veterinarian what is one of the best smells in the world and many will answer without a moment’s hesitation: puppy breath. Hardly anyone can resist the fresh scent of a new puppy, kind of like the smell of a new car. But, as your dog grows up, he loses that delightful smell and sometimes can smell, well, a bit like a dog. Doggy smells may indicate a problem needing more than just a dog deodorant. Consider the following problems if you whiff the dog smell.

Hound Halitosis
While your dog is always kissable, a bad case of hound halitosis may make you want to avoid a smooch from your pooch. Doggy breath is not normal and is a sign of tooth or gum disease. Daily brushing and special dental products can help. But your dog may need a professional cleaning to eliminate the smell. Keep in mind, bad breath has been included as one of the 10 warning signs of pet cancer. A serious case of bad breath should send you and your dog to the veterinarian’s office pronto.

Stinky Ears
First you notice your dog scratching at his head and then you catch a stench wafting from his ears. Ear infections are one of the most common reasons dogs see their veterinarian and frequently are associated with a bad smell. Flip up the ear flap. If your dog winches, has a red flap or gook coming from the ear canal, you may be dealing with an ear infection as the source of the unpleasant doggy smell. Both bacteria and yeast can be at the root of stinky ears. Your veterinarian can do testing to identify the culprit and prescribe the appropriate medication.

Reeking Rumps
The anal sacs sit on the right and left sides between the layers of muscles making up the anal sphincter. Each one has a duct traveling out from the sac to the skin. Why dogs (and cats too) have this anatomic structure is somewhat of a mystery. Why about 10% of dogs have recurrent impactions and infections of the anal glands is also a mystery. There is no question however, that the smell of anal sac secretions can clear out large areas of a veterinary clinic and send the assistants running for room deodorizer. When your dog slides his rump on the floor or licks that area excessively, he may be trying to telling you he has an anal gland problem.

If your Fido is a bit fragrant don’t worry, a trip to veterinarian can have him smelling as fresh as a bunch of daisies.

Melanoma Monday: May 2, 2011

The term “Melanoma Monday” is a service mark of the American Academy of Dermatology and seeks to promote awareness about melanoma, a deadly form of skin cancer in humans. Melanoma is one of the diseases humans share with animals – so I thought I would take this opportunity to alert dog owners about melanoma in dogs and point out the similarities and differences to the human disease.

Canine melanoma occurs in different locations than the disease does in humans. The most malignant form of the disease occurs in the mouth and toes. Unlike humans, where skin melanomas are commonly malignant, skin melanomas in the dog are often benign. The circle in the photograph on the right is a malignant melanoma of the gum just below one of the large back teeth.

Dogs with a melanoma, or any other tumor of the oral cavity, often have severe halitosis. The family might notice blood tinged saliva or a reluctance of their dog to carry toys in his mouth. Oral tumors such as melanoma can be painful and a dog with an oral tumor may suddenly refuse to eat dry dog food or dog biscuits.

Melanoma of the toe typically starts at the junction of the nail and the toe. You might notice your dog licking at the toe or a swelling at the junction. A broken nail, without preceding injury, may signal the need for an evaluation by your veterinarian as tumors can weaken the nail and allow a spontaneous break.

As with humans, an early diagnosis of this disease often leads to a much better diagnosis. Teach your puppy to let you open his mouth so you can identify any oral abnormalities. Bad breath, reluctance to eat and blood tinged saliva might not necessarily indicate the presence of a tumor, but may indicate dental problems which may also need to be treated. In either case, your veterinarian should see your dog immediately. Toe swellings, pain or nail problems should also provoke a visit to the veterinarian as early diagnosis and treatment with surgery, radiation and a melanoma vaccine clinically tested by the Animal Medical Center oncology team can save your dog’s life.


This may also be found in the “Tales from the Pet Clinic” blog on WebMD.com.

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