Dogs Does-your-dog-have-that---well-doggie-smell

Published on February 23rd, 2015 | by Debbie Martin


Does your dog have that well…doggie smell?

Does your dog have that, well doggie smell? If so, you’re not alone. Odour is something which all dog owners become accustomed to. In fact, it grows so familiar that we forget it’s there. A number of factors might cause a dog to smell. A dog’s ears, for example, may smell slightly of yeast. This smell is worsened when the ear becomes infected – a topic we’ll return to later. The most ubiquitous smell a dog can produce is one which serves no purpose – the smell we humans colloquially refer to as ‘doggie’ smell.

To us, all dogs smell indistinguishable from one another (unless there is something wrong with them). To a dog, however, the odour is quite distinctive and means by which to distinguish one dog from another. This explains why a dog might behave strangely around you if it can smell another dog’s scent on you.

Dogs don’t sweat to the extent that humans do. When they need to get rid of water – or cool down – they pant, instead. They do, however, perspire a little and this sweat carries their distinctive odour. Most of this perspiration comes through their paws, since their paws are not covered with hair. Some of it comes through the hair follicles, and it’s for this reason that, when a dog has left hair all over an item of furniture, it smells just like the dog.

What smells are problematic?

While we all accept when we invite a dog into our home that we’ll have to put up with their ever-present smell, there are some which can indicate a more serious problem. Let’s take a brief look at a few of them.

Ear problems

If your dog’s ears have begun to stink, then it is overwhelmingly likely that those ears have become infected. This being the case, they will need to be taken to a vet, who will prescribe antibiotics. The dog’s ears will need to be cleaned with an antibacterial swab – which is a painful procedure.

In order to prevent these problems from developing, it is often best to periodically clean the dog’s ears. This will involve using a cotton bud, soaked in peroxide (other cleansers are available, designed specifically for this purpose), to give the interior of your dog’s ear a gentle wash.

Certain breeds of dog are more prone to ear problems than others. Some dogs, for example, have been bred to have floppy ears – humans find these adorable, but they can make the dog more susceptible to ear infection.

Some breeds of dog – specifically those that do not shed – are also prone to having lots of hair accumulating inside their ears. This results in a build-up of wax, which represents an ideal environment for bacteria and mites to take residence. When you clean out your dog’s ears, you should get into the habit of trimming back some of this hair – or, failing that, get a professional groomer to do it for you.

Bad breath

All dogs suffer from bad breath – at least, from our point of view. But if your dog’s breath becomes particularly terrible, then it might indicate a dental infection. Unfortunately, cavities and infections in the mouth can quickly spread from one tooth to another. A problem that first only affected a single tooth can thereby affect the dog’s entire mouth in a very short space of time. This makes it vitally important to take the dog to the vet as quickly as possible. Even if the only available option is to remove the afflicted tooth, this solution is far preferable to the alternative.

If you want to protect your dog’s dental health in the long run, then you can do so using simple steps like regular brushing (though your dog will be less than enthusiastic about this measure), or chew toys (toward which your dog might be a little more enthusiastic).


There are some conditions which may cause your dog to pass gas with greater frequency – and with greater pungency, too. This, for obvious reasons, can be a source of embarrassment and disgust – particularly if you intend to invite guests over. But it can also be uncomfortable for the dog. If your dog’s flatulence is growing problematic, then you may wish to consult your vet about it. It might be that your dog’s diet needs adjusting – it could, however, indicate a more serious problem with your dog’s digestive system. In any case, a professional opinion is warranted.

Skin problems

Finally, we return to the major source of odour in dogs in general: the skin. Some skin odours, as we have seen, are more troublesome than others. Sometimes skin can become dry and flaky, and become vulnerable to infection. In such cases, a change of diet can often prove useful – you may also wish to give your dog supplements in order to ensure it gets the right amount of fatty acids. Consult your vet before embarking on this course of action, however – it could be that a dog’s skin has suffered an allergic reaction and further testing will be necessary in order to pinpoint this as a cause.

You might be tempted to wash your dog using a shampoo, in order to mask the smell of the dog; this is an effective solution, to be sure, but a temporary one – especially given the widely-recognised canine pastime of rolling around in mud and other assorted filth. What’s worse, it will likely cause your dog a great deal of irritation. More effective is to supplement monthly washing with more regular grooming. Gently brushing your dog in order to remove traces of dirt and loose hair can help them to smell better, as well as guarding against infection. Ensure that you pay special attention to the gaps between a dog’s toes, as soil and other debris can often accumulate there. Finally, after you’ve washed your dog, ensure that it is thoroughly dried. A dog’s coat needs to be dry in order to keep its temperature stable and to repel further grime and dirt.

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About the Author

Debbie Martin has worked at Beeston Animal Health for over five years, having previously worked as a nurse in equine and small animal practice. Although generally involved with aspects of marketing these days and putting her psychology degree to good use, she still has a great depth of up to date knowledge in all creatures great and small. Debbie lives at home with her partner and two children and spends much of her spare time looking after her horses, dogs and cats or at the home farm with the cows, sheep and turkeys.

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