Why Does My Dog’s Skin Smell Bad?

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.

Related Posts


  1. I have a 10 year old Australian labradoodle – 4th generation. When she comes in from outside, her skin smells so bad it actually makes me wheeze! Her skin, ears, teeth, anal glands are just fine. I live in Arizona. I keep her coat short. It’s of course hot and during monsoon it is hot and humid. I have to wipe her down with a wet wash cloth. She doesn’t smell like the environment. It’s a strong pungent order. She is my service dog so doesn’t spend a lot of time outdoors. A few years ago she did have a tissue sarcoma removed. Her routine blood work is normal. Any ideas would help. Oh, she is active, continues to play and I’ve tried different foods.

  2. Our 14 year old Shih Tzu has been diagnosed with Cushing’s after three months on medication. Her cortisol levels are good again… She’s maintaining just fine although her her has become a little oily in a little smelly even after grooming
    is there something we could use on her to help her keep smelling fresh.

Leave a Comment