Why Does My Female Dog Smell Like Fish? As dog parents, we care about the health and happiness of our pets. However, the reality is that most of us haven’t spent a lot of time learning about our dogs’ health issues.
We love our furry family members but we don’t always understand them, which can make vet visits challenging. If you’re having a hard time explaining your dog’s symptoms to your vet, this is a good example of why.
Why Does Your Female Dog Sometimes Smell Like Fish?
Blocked anal glands and a vaginal yeast infection are the two most common reasons why a female dog’s might smell like fish.
Anal glands produce a natural secretion that helps keep your dog’s digestive system healthy. Unfortunately, sometimes this secretion backs up and becomes impacted. This can cause foul-smelling discharge.
If you see a grey discharge coming from your dog’s anus or notice that they are constantly licking their bottom, then it is possible that her anal glands are becoming blocked. If you suspect your dog might have an issue with her anal glands, then please visit your vet as soon as possible.
Vaginal yeast infection is an infection of the vagina caused by microscopic fungi called yeast. This is a very common condition in older dogs, especially those that are having health issues such as arthritis. Although it isn’t technically a smell, your dog’s discharge will likely have a fishy odor due to the presence of yeast.
This might occur before or after your dog smells like fish. If you notice an odor coming from your dog’s genitals and aren’t sure what is causing it, then please visit your vet. Your vet can examine your dog and run some tests if necessary.
If your dog has an anal gland issue or a vaginal yeast infection, then you might notice that they start to smell like fish at certain times of the year.
What Causes Your Dog to Smell Like Fish?
Overstimulation of the scent glands is the most common cause of fishy smelling dogs. These glands are located behind your dog’s ears, in the armpits, and on their chest.
When they overproduce scents, they start to smell fishy. Normally, the glands release a small amount of scent only when your dog is aroused (excited) or scared. If the glands are overstimulated, they may release all of their scents all of the time. This can be caused by:
- Long periods of isolation.
- New smells around the home, like another dog.
- Recent grooming.
- A medical issue.
- Overfeeding your dog.
- Overloading their system with too many salts or minerals.
- Wearing a muzzle.
Changes in your dog’s diet, like the addition of a new supplement or medication. Scent gland infections are common in dogs and are usually caused by an overgrowth of bacteria or yeast.
They often begin as redness or inflammation at the site of the glands and cause a fishy smell. Sometimes there is also a mild discharge from the glands. The discharge often changes from clear to greenish or yellow and may be sticky. Your vet may need to “sterilize”
The Science Behind Why Female Dogs Smell Like Fish
There are a few different things that could be causing your dog to smell like fish. One theory is that it has something to do with the natural balance of microorganisms in your home.
Over time, you probably noticed that your dog started to smell a bit like fish after moving into a new house or apartment. This might be because the changing scenery brought in new, more odorous bacteria and other microbes. Your dog’s scent glands couldn’t keep up with all the new scents and are now overstimulated. To your dog, all of these smells are fishy!
The other theory is that it has something to do with the female dog’s internal system. Like us, female dogs have an endocrine system. The pituitary gland at the base of your dog’s brain releases a hormone called luteinizing hormone (LH). LH travels through the bloodstream and causes the ovaries to release an egg.
Sometimes your dog’s ovaries don’t produce as many eggs as they should, causing them to go into what’s called “estrus.” This is when your dog is in heat, or ovulating. Some dogs go into heat cycles every month, but many females are only in heat a few times a year. The smell of fish is likely coming from this cycle getting out of sync with the rest of your dog’s body.
Diagnosing the problem
It’s important to note that there is no test for smelling like fish. If you think your dog might be having a problem with her scent glands, talk to your vet about what he thinks is going on. Some dogs will benefit from medication to control the overproduction of scents.
Others may need surgery to clean out the glands and rebalance the internal system. To diagnose the problem, your vet will perform a physical exam, check for signs of infection, and possibly do blood tests.
Is it normal for my female dog to smell like fish?
Some dogs will have a strong fishy smell throughout their bodies, while others might only have a strong smell when they’re in heat. You might be able to notice the change in your dog’s scent as early as 4-6 weeks old.
If it’s just a few days or weeks, it could just be a case of your dog’s body adjusting to a new environment. The fishy smell should lessen after a few months and completely go away by 1 year of age. If you notice that your dog smells like fish more often than not, then there may be a problem.
How Can I Get Rid of My Female Dog’s Fishy Smell?
This is something that you will have to keep an eye on over time. If the smell seems to be getting worse instead of better, then you may want to start exploring other options.
Many times, it’s just a case of your dog’s body adjusting to a new environment and it will get back to normal. The main treatment for a fishy scent is keeping your dog as clean as possible.
Bathing every week or two is a good idea, but not necessary. Shampoos with anti-fungal and anti-bacterial ingredients can help keep your dog’s skin and fur healthy. Another option is to start rubbing your dog’s scent glands with olive oil or coconut oil.
This will make them produce less scents, so they don’t overstimulate your dog. In the end, it all comes down to cleaning your dog as often as possible.
Conclusion: Why Does My Female Dog Smell Like Fish?
All dogs are individuals and will have their own smell, just like us humans. If you notice that your dog’s scent is stronger than usual, talk to your vet about it. A fishy smell could be a sign of an issue or could be completely normal for your dog. If you don’t think something is quite right with your dog’s smell, then by all means, talk to your vet!
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