Why Does My Dog Smell Like Fish?

Updated: July 20, 2022

"The first step in determining why your dog smells like fish is to identify where the fishy smell is coming from."

Sometimes our dogs smell like fish, leading many concerned pet parents to ask, “Why does my dog smell like fish?” Dogs may smell like fish for a number of reasons— what they eat, where they stay, and their health. In this article, we are here to explain why your dog smells fishy, when is it a cause of concern, and what you can do about a dog that smells like fish.

The first step in determining why your dog smells like fish is to identify where the fishy smell is coming from. Is it coming from your dog’s ears, anal gland, or mouth?

There are a number of causes why your dog may smell like fish. Some of the reasons may include the following:

Dog’s Butt Smells Like Fish

Why does my dog smell like fish around their butt? If your dog’s butt smells like fish, it may be that they have an underlying anal gland issue. It is possible that your furbaby’s anal gland may be impacted, infected, or need to be released. Dog anal glands release an oily substance that comes with your dog’s poop. Your dog may also use this oily substance to mark their territories and communicate with other dogs and animals. If the fishy smell is coming from your furbaby’s anal gland, the following may be the cause:

Impactions. A fishy smell may be caused by an impact on your furbaby’s anal sac. Naturally, your dog’s anal gland will be expressed when they poop. If the anal sacs are not completely emptied, it can cause an impaction once dry. It will become hard to express if your dog's anal sacs are impacted, . Impacted anal sacs can become abscessed if not treated quickly.

Infections and Abscesses. Your dog’s anal glands may get infected, turn abscessed, and give off a foul fishy smell if not given immediate veterinary care.

Anal Sac Tumors. Anal sac tumors prevent your dog from expressing their anal glands. Tumors make the anal glands feel enlarged, tight, and hard. Aside from a fishy smell from your dog’s butt, other symptoms of anal sac tumors may also include scooting, excessively licking and/or biting the anus, pooping difficulties, blood in poop, and crying when pooping due to pain. There might also be hard, discolored lumps around your dog’s anus.

dogs butt smells like fish, why does my dog's butt smell like fish

Anal diseases can happen to any dog. But, there are those dog breeds that are more prone in acquiring anal diseases. These are dogs who suffer from allergies, obesity, hypothyroidism, yeast or bacterial infections.

How to Prevent Anal Gland Issues:

  • Feed your dog a diet that is rich in fiber.
  • Always provide clean and fresh drinking water to ensure they are hydrated.
  • Exercise your dog daily and keep them at a healthy weight.
  • Note any issues with your dog’s poop. Watery? Too hard? Well-formed?
  • Use Pet WiPees™ Gland Wipes to get rid of anal gland smell. These pet wipes are particularly created for your furbaby's anal glands to help to ease irritation in impactions, draw out irritants, and decrease the bad bacteria population present in the glands. Not only will they help get rid of that dog fish smell, but regular use can help anal gland smells from forming again. Pet WiPees™ Gland Wipes are crafted to gently clean and remove that fishy smell without irritation.

Dog’s Breath Smells Like Fish

Why does my dog’s breath smell like fish? If the fishy smell comes from your dog’s mouth, periodontal disease is a possibility. Periodontal disease causes bad breath in dogs and may even further lead to severe problems if not treated quickly. Periodontal disease, according to Pet MD, is the main result of inflammation and infection of the bones, gums, and other supporting structures that support and envelop your dog’s teeth. Aside from noticing that your dog’s breath smells like fish, you might see other signs of issues. Tooth loss, broken and loose teeth, infections, discoloration, abscesses, and gum bleeding are all associated with oral diseases.

Preventing Bad Breath:

  • Give your dog regular routine pet dental exams, dental cleaning, and at-home tooth brushing.
  • Provide Gnawtlers®. Gnawtlers® are premium elk and deer antler chews that can help clean your dog’s teeth to help prevent your dogs’ breath from smelling like fish. These Grade A antler chews for dogs are carefully selected for safety and jam-packed with nutrients.
  • Provide Pet Parents® Turmeric & Curcumin SoftSupps®. These dog supplements will help you equip your furbaby with the right health boosters to help prevent infections, including periodontal diseases. These contain BioPerine®, CurQmin™, and turmeric for dogs that aid in maintaining normal inflammatory responses.

Fishy Smell From a Urinary Tract Infection

A Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) may also cause your dog to smell like fish! UTIs are one of the most common urinary diseases in dogs. The most common cause of UTIs in dogs is bacteria that has entered the urinary tract through the urethral opening. Some of the signs of a UTI may include sudden frequent peeing, presence of blood in pee, discomfort and pain when peeing, and excessive licking of the private area.

Other diseases like bladder stones, kidney stones, bladder cancer, and prostate problems in male dogs may also cause a fishy-smelling pee.

Helping to Prevent Urinary Tract Infections in Dogs:

  • Try to get your dog to increase their water intake.
  • Regularly bathe your dog. Or have them scheduled for routine grooming, especially around their urethral opening.
  • Provide them with Pet Parents® Bladder SoftSupps® for bladder and kidney support. These bladder supplements for dogs help support a healthy urinary tract and promote liver digestive health.

Smell From Yeast Overgrowth

Why does my dog smell like fish? Yeast overgrowth also causes your dog to smell like fish. Yeast overgrowth or yeast infections can occur on your dog’s skin, ears, under the neck, and private areas. Although yeast naturally lives on these body parts, it can overgrow when your furbaby is warm and damp. Yeast overgrowth is usually caused by an unbalanced diet, food allergies, dirty surroundings, weak immune system, nutritional deficiency, parasite bites, or underlying diseases like diabetes.

dogs ear smells like fish

The signs of yeast overgrowth greatly depends on what body part has been affected.

  • If the skin is affected, your furbaby’s skin will look inflamed, flaky, and greasy. Your dog will constantly try to lick, chew, and scratch the affected area of the skin.
  • When the mouth is affected, there will be excessive drooling, bad breath, presence of thrush, and difficulty in eating and drinking.
  • If the ears are affected, the ears will be irritated or infected, there is red or brown waxy discharge, and your dog will be excessively itching, scratching, and pawing at their ears.
  • When the private areas are affected, signs may include frequent peeing and excessive rubbing or scooting of the private area.

What To Do for Yeast Overgrowth:

  • Use Pet WiPees™ Ear Wipes to clean your furbaby’s ears. These pet wipes help manage allergy irritants and ear infections in both dogs and cats. Pet WiPees™ Ear Wipes also wipe away allergens, irritants, and the bad bacteria population. In addition, these pet ear wipes are perfect for cleaning out wax or other debris in the ears, helping reduce the fishy odor.
  • Use Pet WiPees™ Dog All Purpose + Allergy Wipes to wipe away flakes on your dog’s skin with yeast overgrowth. These pet wipes are gentle and non-irritating. It has cooling and soothing ingredients to help reduce skin inflammation and itchiness.

When Does a Fishy Odor Become a Problem?

If your dog smells like fish for more than a few days, take them to the vet to check up on any underlying illnesses. Your vet may conduct tests to determine what might be causing the odor. It is also best to hand down your vet your notes and observations as to where the fishy smell is coming from.

Luckily, a fishy-smelling dog can be made fresh-smelling again. Identify where the smell is coming from and work to resolve the cause of concern. Once you identify why your dog smells like fish, follow the treatment plan given by your vet and use the preventative tips above to help keep your furbaby smelling fresh.

"Use Pet WiPees™ Gland Wipes to get rid of anal gland smell. Not only will they help get rid of that dog fish smell, but regular use can help anal gland smells from forming again."