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Why Does My Labrador Smell? Find Out Here

By
 Ashly 
on 
May 19, 2021

f there was a signature smell for Labrador Retrievers, it would be wet dog. So it’s no surprise that Labrador owners often ask "why does my labrador smell". Labradors are dogs who love to play, and play hard.

They also love to swim, and their thick coats have the tendency to become heavy when wet. Added to a pair of droopy Lab ears and the hound dog’s propensity for rolling in just about anything and everything that will stick to his coat, it’s not long before your Lab starts to smell.

Why Your Labrador Might Smell Bad?

Below are a number of common reasons why Labradors can smell bad and what would make them more likely to be the reason why yours smells bad.

Health problems

There are a number of health problems that can be associated with bad smells.

If your Labrador has bad breath then it could be due to kidney failure or diabetes. It’s normal for a dog’s breath to be slightly smelly but if it’s very bad then it could be due to health reasons.

Bad breath can also be caused by diseased teeth and gums. Diseased teeth and gums can also cause increased drooling which might get caught in its fur which can cause it to become even more smelly.

Bacterial infections in the ears can make them smell bad as well. It will often be accompanied by lots of head shaking, flatulence some is normal but lots may be due to intestine problems

There might also be problems with the anal sacs. They are two small scent sacs located in the area of the anus and are types of marking glands. When a dog poos, the sacs will normally get squeezed and release a smelly oily secretion. If a dog is scared or excited the glands can secrete the oily substance onto its fur. Your vet can show you how to check the anal sacs yourself and even how to empty them.

If you think that there might be health problems that are causing the bad smell, you should take your Labrador to the vet and get it checked out. Also, if it has not been to the vet for a checkup recently, now would be a good time to take it.

It’s been rolling around in smelly things

If your Labrador has been rolling around in grass or dirt a lot, it could be what has been causing it to smell bad. If your Labrador does have a habit of rolling around in the grass and it smells then you might want to take measures to reduce that kind of behavior.

It’s been in water

The reason could also be that it has gotten wet. If it’s been raining or if your Labrador has been swimming in a lake or pool then it can cause your Labrador’s fur to become smelly especially if the water was dirty.

To get rid of the smell here you can clean it so that the dirty water doesn’t get a chance to dry on your Labrador’s coat and you can avoid letting it inside until you have dried it off.

Yeast infections

Yeast is a common issue for Labradors and other dogs and it will often come with a bad smell. Smelly paws or ears are usually a sign of yeast infections. If your Labrador is scratching its paws or ears on a regular basis then this could be the cause and you should take it to the vet.

5 Reasons Why Your Dog Smells So Bad and What to Do About It

Dental Problems

The number one cause of bad breath in dogs, just like people, is the build-up of plaque and tartar on their teeth. Some small breeds are especially prone to dental problems like gum disease.

Another problem specific to certain breeds is Gingival Hyperplasia, the overgrowth of the gums that can harbor small bits of food and produce a rotten smell. Keeping your dog's teeth clean at home is the first step in solving this problem, but ultimately your pet may need a dental cleaning from a veterinary professional.

If you have wellness coverage with AKC Pet Insurance, you could reimbursed for some of the costs of a professional dental cleaning!

Gas

Flatulence is a common problem in dogs and if yours can clear the room after passing gas, it is often an intolerance to an ingredient in their food. Working with your veterinarian to change to a different diet, whether that be grain-free or fish-based, can often help the problem.

However excessive wind can sometimes signal an underlying medical issue so if the air around your pet remains whiffy, continue to consult your veterinarian until the problem is resolved.

Atopy

Seasonal or food allergies can cause inflammation of the skin which leads to excessive secretion of oil from certain glands in the skin, producing a musty smell.

Poor diet can contribute to this condition and can also be the cause of other problems including yeast infections, which also give off a foul odor. These are often caused by a diet high in carbohydrates and processed foods. Changing to a high-protein, non-processed dog food or trying out allergy tablets for dogs can often help with this.

Ear Infections  

There are many types of bacteria and yeast that can cause ear infections. A healthy ear usually has good defences to fight off the bacteria but if the dog suffers from allergies or hormonal imbalances, the yeast and bacteria can increase dramatically, causing a malodorous smell.

Dogs with hairy or floppy ears such as Basset Hounds and Springer Spaniels may have consistent ear problems unless the ears are kept clean and dry.

Anal Sacs

This is one of the most common causes of stinky dogs. All our canine companions have two small scent sacs on their bottom they are a type of marking gland which is why dogs smell rear ends when meeting.

If they become impacted, it can cause pain for the dog and an extremely smelly secretion is released and remains on the fur.

Another sign your dog has problems with his anal glands is dragging his bottom on the ground, or “scooting.” Make an appointment with your veterinarian to help with this issue.

What to do about it:

  • Start dental hygiene early to prevent problems. This can include annual dental cleanings, brushing your dog’s teeth at home and even certain dog chews can help reduce dental buildup.
  • Keep folds in the skin and ears clean and dry. Check your dog’s ears periodically and be sure to dry them after swims or baths.
  • Feed a healthy diet. If you suspect your dog’s diet might be the culprit, try a diet with different ingredients. Consult your veterinarian for recommendations.  
  • Bathe your dog regularly! An obvious, yet often neglected solution!  

If the stink persists, consult your veterinarian as some medical conditions can produce strange odors. Breath that smells fruity or sweet could indicate diabetes while kidney disease or bladder infection can result in breath that smells like urine. 

Enrolling in pet insurance in place before a situation arises can help to reduce the costs associated with dignosing and treating the underlying causes of a stinky dog. Good luck and happy sniffing!

My dog’s coat smells worse than normal body odor

Odor is a common sign of a skin infections – even some that are not clearly visible. Infections can be from bacteria, fungi and other parasites. The germs usually take hold when something disrupts the normal function of the skin.

A number of underlying conditions can cause a skin infection in dogs. These include:

  • long-term dampness
  • allergies (ranging from fleas and shampoos to foods)
  • abnormalities in the glands that produce the natural oils
  • metabolic disorders like thyroid problems
  • a dry skin which can be caused by diet (too few fatty acids) or too much bathing.

Ways to improve your Labrador’s smell

Below are some options you have when getting your Labrador to smell better.

Improve its dental health

Since bad breath is a common cause of bad odors in dogs one of the things that you can do is to improve your Labrador’s dental health.

You can do this by giving it bones and chews to chew on that help to reduce plaque, you can make sure to give it annual health cleanings and you can even brush its teeth yourself.

You should also take steps to make sure that there are no problems with its teeth or gums by taking it to the vets.

Keep it dry

When your Labrador gets wet, it can cause it to become smelly and it can lead to infections. This is why you should make sure to clean its skin and ears after it gets wet. You should also check its ears periodically to check for infections.

Change its diet

Since a bad diet can cause Labrador to smell you should take measures to ensure that your Labrador’s diet is how it should be. The best way to do this would be to ask your vet when you see them next.

Clean it

One way to keep your Labrador smelling nice is to bathe and groom it regularly. By doing this you will be able to keep its fur smelling fresh and free of odor. By grooming it you’ll also be able to remove loose fur which could be increasing its smell.

Bear in mind that Labrador and other types of dogs will still be a bit smelly after bathing them but this is due to its coat being wet and should go away after you dry it.

Get it to stop rolling in smelly things

Since one cause of your Labrador’s smell is likely to be due to rolling around once measure you can take is to get it to stop doing so.

You can do this by training it to come to you on command, giving it exercise, keeping it cool and giving it things to keep it occupied.

Ask your vet

If you cannot figure out why your Labrador has been smelling bad, it has been smelling bad for a long time or it seems like there could be a medical cause, the best option would be to take it to a vet.

By doing so, you should be able to get expert advice tailored towards your particular Labrador and to rule out the possibility of medical causes.

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Ashly

Hey yaa! Im Ashly and I love pets. Growing up in a house with 2 dogs, a cat, a parrot and many furry rodents; it was natural for me to have a profound affection for them. I created GenerallyPets.com to create useful guides and articles on looking after your furry friends. The advice given on this site is our views and expertise, please consult a VET prior to testing anything. Hope my site helps you :)

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