Charlie, my King Charles Spaniel, had this strong smell of… “dog”. I thought it was nothing out of the ordinary, it’s not like he rolled around in mess outside, he just seemed to have this strong smell of what I called “dog”. We bathed him regularly but within a couple of hours, it would return.

I know many of you will be screaming out, it is because he’s a dog. That’s what I thought until my vet told me otherwise.

But that isn’t the only reason why your dog can have a strong odour. There is more to it than that as I found out.

Obviously, you need to rule out the fact that they have just rolled in some excrement. But if there is no obvious explanation for the smell, you need to make sure it isn’t connected to any health problems your dog may have. If you are looking after your pet properly, you would notice a change, and that is what is important, a change.

Here are some of the common reasons why dogs can start to smell more than they do normally, which in most cases can be avoided if you care for your pet properly.


If your dog’s smell is more pungent around the underbelly, ankles, armpits and ears, the smell could be caused by a skin condition. Dogs can suffer from Canine Seborrhea, a genetic condition which is caused by a buildup of oil around those areas.

If your dog is scratching a lot around these smelly areas and has a build-up of dandruff, have eczema or has picked up a fungus just like many of us humans do. A good shampoo on a regular basis will normally deal with this unless it is a chronic case, and if that is the case, you should already know.


If your dog’s breath is particularly foul, it could be an indication of kidney failure or diabetes, or it could just be a rotten tooth. This could be the case if the scent of your dog’s breath changes suddenly or gets noticeably worse. Or it could be that they just ate some poop. Just like humans, smelly breath is not a good sign if it is persistent and getting worse, you should know.


If your dog’s whiffy smell is coupled with your dog scooching around the floor on his backside, it could be suffering from an anal sac infection. The infection will manifest itself with a couple of small sacs on the lower part of the anus. These become filled with an oily brown, foul smelling fluid.

Anal sac infections are common even if you give your dog plenty of exercise and a healthy diet. However, once they have them, draining is required. The procedure is simple enough to do at home if you have a little experience but if you are not up to the task, you will need to pay the vet to do it.


Ear infections are said to have no symptoms at all to a dog that can enter something that is akin to an epileptic fit. If your dog had, like mine had, an ear infection so bad that it stank, you also deserve the lecture I got from the vet. An ear infection is extremely painful and if I had been paying attention, I would have known my Charles was not happy, quite snappy for some time.

The key to being a good pet parent is paying attention, and stopping conditions getting worse, and being careful to stop them happening in the first place. Most pets will stay healthy if you look after them and pay attention to them and give them a good look over on a regular basis. I have to say that I write this article out of remorse.


What do you think? What are some better ways people should be looking after their pets to avoid health problems in the first place?

Philip Wallis

Philip grew up with a family of pet lovers. He particularly loves dogs and is sharing his experience with OnDECK by DINGA.