Why Does My Dog’s Skin Smell Bad?

 
Filed under Dr. Dym's Vet Blog

One of the most common dermatological complaints in the veterinary clinic is the complaint that a dog’s skin smells bad.

One of the most common dermatological complaints in the veterinary clinic is the complaint that a dog’s skin smells bad. By far, the most common causes of offensive smelling skin are overgrowth of yeast or bacteria. Yeast and/or bacteria may overgrow for many possible reasons, including underlying inhalant/contact allergies, flea bite allergies, as well as food allergies.  Hormonal diseases, including hypothyroidism and Cushing’s disease may also cause bad skin odor. Localized inflammations including allergic hot spots on the skin may also cause unpleasant odor of the skin.

In my practice I have often found that pets on poor processed commercial pet food diets often have a lot of allergies and bad skin odors. In these cases, I find that placing pets on naturally preserved diets including Petguard, Wysong or Nature’s Variety can be helpful in improving coat health and skin odor over time. Ideally, I recommend evolutionary appropriate home prepared raw meat based diets that are low in processed carbohydrates as the best way to go toward not only improved skin and coat health, but overall health of the patient in treating and preventing disease.

I also will recommend Omega 3 fatty acids, such as Be Well, as well as digestive enzymes including NaturVet Digestive Enzymes as nutritional supplements that may help with bad skin odor. Western and Chinese detoxifying herbs also may be helpful in those pets on poor diets. Treatment of bad skin odor may include medicated or prescription based shampoos. I often prefer natural tea tree based shampoos when yeast or bacterial infections of the skin occur. Diagnosis of the cause of bad skin odor is best made by veterinary exam and visit and specific treatment is best determined by a conventional or holistic veterinarian.

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5 Comments

  1. Michele
    Posted April 25, 2012 at 9:45 pm | Permalink

    I have noticed that dogs that are bathed frequently end up HAVING to be bathed frequently because they develop a bad smell. My friends who regularly bathe their dogs are amazed that I rarely bathe mine, because my dogs have no unpleasant odor.

    [Reply]

    Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarian Reply:

    Many times this has to do with a good quality diet being involved with skin/coat health.

    [Reply]

  2. Michele
    Posted April 25, 2012 at 10:26 pm | Permalink

    Indeed, I feed my dogs very high quality food and it is worth every penny. They are in beautiful condition and my vet bills are minimal. The dogs probably have a more nutritious diet than I do!

    [Reply]

    Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarian Reply:

    Thanks for sharing. I am big fan of Wysong diets, especially the wysong epigen diet. Ideally I like animals to be on raw meat diets as they seem have the best health long term.

    [Reply]

  3. Faith
    Posted December 5, 2013 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    My dog is over weight and has smelly dark skin under his legs. I have been using witch hazel to clean it and cortizone cream every day. Seems to be clearing up. Am I doing the right thing?

    [Reply]

    Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarian Reply:

    I would recommend a vet exam as could be yeast or bacterial infection in this area that may need antibiotics, etc.

    [Reply]

  4. Cobey's Mom
    Posted January 7, 2014 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

    My dog has a corn chip smell even after he has had a bath. He constantly scratches so I bathed him in a medicated shampoo but it doesn’t seem to help. what could be the cause of this?

    [Reply]

    Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarian Reply:

    Many possibilities from allergies to infection. Try shampooing with malaseb shampoo from 1800petmeds. Best to see vet for workup

    [Reply]

  5. Michele
    Posted January 10, 2014 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

    Dr. Dym, so far as Wyson I just take issue with their vegan product. It is, in my opinion, an irresponsible item to market as it is not an appropriate diet for dogs. Unfortunately, there is probably a demand for it.

    [Reply]

    Dr. Michael Dym, VMD veterinarian Reply:

    HI Michelle…. With dogs, it is possible to use vegetarian diets. Not possible with cats. Pet guard also has good vegetarian diet http://www.petguard.com Some dogs do fine on these, while cats can’t be on strictly vegetarian diets.

    [Reply]

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