A few weeks ago, a reader emailed me a question about her dog. Apparently, two days after returning from the groomer, the dog is already stinky. As most of us have noticed, canines often do have a particular “doggy” odor, but as I advised her, anything extreme may indicate a medical problem.
Before you drag Rover off to the vet, you should first consider environmental conditions. For example, we knew a guy who had a black lab, he affectionately referred to as Stink Dawg because she smelled like a swamp. Stink Dawg had a good reason for being stinky, however; she went swimming in a pond every afternoon. As a result, she smelled like the Creature from the Black Lagoon. And, of course, if your dog has played tag with a skunk or had big fun rolling in a dead animal carcass, you can pretty much guess that she won’t smell fine afterward.
If there’s no environmental reason for your dog to smell bad, especially right after being cleaned, you should consider medical conditions. The dog may have a problem with his anal glands or some type of skin problem. For example, when I was growing up, we had a seriously stinky dog named Judge who smelled bad because of skin problems resulting from an unusual form of mange. (It was a good thing Judge was a nice dog because he definitely brought his own particular aura to a room.)
Bacterial or yeast infections are behind most common skin problem that cause odor. So Judge’s stink factor probably was from the secondary infections, not the mange itself. The end result was that we spend a lot of time at the vet and had to dip poor Judge in many vile fluids.
Fortunately, veterinary medicine has advanced considerably since Judge’s day. Veterinarians have a lot more options when it comes to treating skin problems. If your dog has red itchy skin that smells bad, she may have a yeast infection. These infections are often a side effect of allergies. To diagnose your pet, the vet may need to take a few skin samples and send them out to a lab.
If your dog has a bacterial infection, the treatment is often antibiotics and various shampoos to treat the area topically. Unfortunately, treating skin problems can be tricky because like us, dogs scratch when they itch. But you can’t explain to a dog why he shouldn’t scratch. It can take quite a bit of patience and treatment to clear up skin infections. However, your reward will be a dog that no longer causes an olfactory event as he walks by.