How To Get Rid Of Fishy Smell From Dog

We can’t deny it, our dogs are our closest companions. They’re who we spend most of our time with, which is why we quickly notice when something is wrong or if something has changed. 

The majority of the time, our pups are happy, healthy and thriving, ready to take on the day.

Sometimes, they can seem lethargic, or their mood seems to drop, and they may be feeling under the weather. 

How To Get Rid Of Fishy Smell From Dog

One of the most common things that we notice about our dogs is when they start to smell.

Whilst most dogs can have a ‘dog smell’ or as they age their breath can start to grow more pungent…some dogs can smell strongly of fish!

Smelling fishy is usually an indicator that something is wrong, as this is not a natural smell for a dog.

So, if your dog smells fishy, you need to find out why, and seek proper treatment for them. 

Why Does My Dog Smell Fishy?

When a dog smells fishy, the usual cause is the secretions from the anal glands. Anal glands or anal sacs, are the small sacs either side of your dog’s anus.

The anal glands are full of sweat glands that can produce unpleasant scents and odors that become scent markers for the dog.

This is why dogs are so interested in smelling each other’s butts, as the scents provide a lot of information to other dogs and animals.

When your dog poops, these anal glands secrete the scents and pass them onto the poop.

This is also why dogs are interested in smelling other do

g’s poop, as they can take in their scents and understand them. 

According to the American Kennel Club , anal glands have a distinct smell that can be extremely fishy and odorous.

Dogs can ‘express’ this smell when they are scared, which is normal, but they should not smell like this all of the time. 

If your dog’s anal glands are secreting a fishy scent, then the likelihood is that there is an issue such as an impaction.

When there is no issue, the dog’s anal glands should naturally express everytime they go to the bathroom.

However, when the anal glands are not completely emptied of fluid, this fluid can build up and cause an impaction. 

When the anal glands are impacted, they cannot be expressed properly, and can be blocked, hardened and painful for your dog.

If impacted anal glands are not treated or expressed by a veterinarian, then they may even become abscessed.  

In addition to this, your dog may smell fishy because the anal glands are infected or abscessed.

This can cause a lot of pain and discomfort for your dog, and the area around the anus can become swollen, red or discolored. .

When this happens, your dog has to be treated quickly by a veterinarian or professional, as it can sometimes rupture and require surgery. 

How Do You Know If Your Dog Needs Anal Glands Emptied?

How Do You Know If Your Dog Needs Anal Glands Emptied

The strong fishy scent is not the only thing that will tell you your dog’s anal sacs need attention.

Dogs with issues in their anal sacs will likely scoot often on the floor, rubbing their butts along your floor, and will try to bite or lick at their anus.

There could also be some brownish secretions and stains where your dog has been sitting.

You may also notice that your dog has trouble defecating, and may seem to struggle to go to the toilet.

In some cases, dogs with anal glands that need treating will have a lump near the rectum, or there may be some blood or pus in your dog’s poop.

There may also be some swelling or discoloration around the anus. 

If you notice any of these signs, then it is paramount that you take your dog to the veterinarian to have the anal sacs checked over. 

How To Get Rid Of Fishy Smell From Dog

If you notice a strong fishy scent coming from your dog, then it is best to call the veterinarian immediately for treatment.

Most of the time, the main way to do this is to have your dog’s anal glands manually expressied or emptied, which should remove the blockage and resolve the strong odor. 

Once the anal glands are expressed, they should secrete normally when your dog defecates, and there will no longer be any foul scents coming from your dog.

Veterinarians and some groomers will perform this treatment for you, and you can even learn to do it yourself.

But it is best left to the professionals, as if done improperly, you can damage the anal glands or create scar tissue. 

In addition, if your dog’s anal glands are compacted, then it is best to leave it to a veterinarian to sort out. Compacted anal glands have to be treated carefully, as it can be painful for your dog.

If your dog has abscessed or infected anal glands, then they will also need antibiotics after the sacs are cleaned out with antiseptic. 

What Dogs Need Their Glands Expressed?

All dogs can suffer from anal gland problems, but some are more prone to it than others. For instance, many smaller dogs are more prone to needing their glands expressed.

The most common breeds are chihuahuas, miniature or toy poodles, basset hounds, cocker spaniels and beagles.

What Happens If You Don’t Express Dog’s Anal Glands

What Happens If You Don’t Express Dog’s Anal Glands

It is vital that you take your dog to the veterinarian if you think they may have an issue in their anal glands, as not doing so could lead to impactions, abscesses and infections.

The area could become inflamed, painful and could even rupture without treatment. 

Most veterinarians are used to expressing the anal glands of dogs, as it can be very common, so it is not a problem if your dog requires this treatment. 


To summarize, if your dog is smelling strongly of fish, then they probably need their anal sacs expressed.

This is where the anal sacs are manually emptied by a veterinarian or dog groomer, so that the sacs can naturally secrete properly when your dog defecated.

Once the anal glands have been expressed, your dog should have no further problems defecating, and should no longer smell strongly of fish.

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