Why Does My Dog Smell Like Fish? Here’s Why And What To Do About It

Why Does My Dog Smell Like Fish? Here’s Why And What To Do About It

Why does my dog smell like fish? Strange question, primarily if you don’t feed your dog fish oil supplements. But oddly enough, dogs can smell of fish, and here’s why. The smell is very likely coming from blocked or overflowing anal glands (sacs).

What Are Anal Glands On A Dog?

Situated inside the dog’s anus are two fluid-filled sacs, which are the dog’s anal glands. They are not so much glands as sacs and contain an oily, horribly smelling fluid. The fluid’s appearance is usually thin and a dirty yellow color, or it might be thicker and gray.

What are anal glands on a dog

The dog expresses the fluid and their poop and leaves their scent for the next fortunate dog that happens along. You will begin to detect your dog’s fishy smell when, for whatever reason, the glands have not been emptying correctly, and they are now full of this unpleasant-smelling fluid.

What Causes Dogs Anal Sac(s) To Be Blocked?

As we say, when your dog goes to the toilet for a poop, it causes the anal sacs to empty. If your dog has been experiencing loose stools or diarrhea for several days, there won’t be enough pressure applied to the sacs for them to open. Loose stools are one reason why they are not draining, and there could be other reasons if your dog hasn’t been having toilet or stomach issues.

Constipation could be the reason. This explanation is the exact opposite of diarrhea because now your dog hasn’t been going often enough to empty the sacs. If your dog happens to be obese, then this also may be another reason. However, watery poo or diarrhea is the most likely explanation.

Signs Of An Anal Gland Issue

The main sign of an anal gland issue is the fish smell, which we’ve discussed, but there are some other noticeable signs. Have you seen your dog scooting? He plops his butt on the ground as though he’s going to sit and then proceeds to drag his butt along the floor. It can be a very uncomfortable feeling for a dog, and scooting is a kind of scratching action to relieve the irritating sensation.

Signs of an anal gland issue

Of course, this is not good for him or your carpets. If he’s been doing this a few times, his bottom may now be quite sore, and he’ll leave a small trail of blood on your floor.

If he’s a dog that can reach his butt with his tongue, he might be licking the area. Licking where he has a sore is not something he should be doing either. His saliva can leave bacteria in an open wound near his bottom.

Are My Dog’s Anal Sac Glands Blocked?

Here is a quick recap of some of the points we have raised about the blocked anal glands.

  • An unpleasant fishy smell is emanating from your dog.
  • Your dog is continually dragging his butt along the ground.
  • The area around his anus is red and swollen.
  • Your dog is trying to gnaw and nip at his bottom area.
  • He’s obviously in discomfort around his anal area.
  • He is trying to lick his bottom incessantly.
Are my dog's anal sac glands blocked

Are Blocked Anal Gland Sacs Dangerous For My Dog?

This situation is going to cause your dog stress and discomfort. For dogs or people, living with something itchy and uncomfortable is hardly a pleasant experience. Plus, the butt scooting, always nipping and licking his bottom area isn’t going to help.

There’s also the matter of what’s creating this problem for him. That situation needs clearing up with your vet. We would advise taking him to the vet and discussing the whole situation and see what they can offer in the way of treatment and some relief for your dog.

What To Do When Your Dog Has Anal Gland Problems?

If you feel you can help with your dog’s anal gland problem yourself, then there are a few things you might like to try.

Getting your dog’s bowel movements back to where they should be, is an excellent start to help get his glands functioning as they should. We talked earlier about the problem with soft, watery stools not applying the correct pressure to your dog’s anus. So, what’s the solution to his bowel problem?

The right kind of exercise, plenty of cool freshwater, and a balanced diet are the three primary requisites of healthy bowel movements. Assuming there is nothing else untoward with your dog’s health.

While you can read online for what a balanced diet contains, they will not be specific to your dog; they will only be generalities. It would be far better to discuss your dog’s diet with his vet. The kind of breed he is, his age, his health, all of these go into what the best diet is for your dog personally.

Allergies And Anal Gland Problems In Dogs

Allergies cause inflammation, so it’s not a stretch of the imagination to think inflammation and swelling in the anal glands might result from an allergy. If your dog is having allergy problems, they may extend to your dog’s anus, and once the glands are blocked, he has this ongoing issue.

Does Your Dog’s Breath Smell Like Fish?

When you get up close to your dog’s mouth, and there’s a strong fishy smell, you might be wondering how this can be happening. Well, this is still a problem with your dog’s anal glands. Let me explain. We talked about your dog biting, licking, and nipping at his rear end. It might be the case that in doing this, he has caused his glands to express a little of the fluid. And he’s taken this in his mouth or on the tongue.

Does your dog's breath smell like fish


We have answered the question, why does my dog smell like fish? Of course, you might want to take immediate action to relieve your dog’s discomfort. In which case, you will need to express the fluid from his anal glands.

If you have never done this before, we suggest you get professional help for the first time. Then if this occurs again, having seen your vet will better equip you to deal with expressing your dog’s anal glands.