What Is That Smell?

How many of you have been guilty of this scenario? (Admittedly, I am.) Someone comes up to you with something in their hand or simply says to you, “Smell this, it is awful!” And what do you do? Smell it and gag! They already told you the smell would make an onion cry and yet what do we do, smell anyway.

This occurs frequently in our hospital where a pet parent will tell us that their pet smells and they may or may not know the source of the odor. Like a well-known breakfast cereal mascot (a toucan) either myself or one of our technicians begins to try to track down the source of the odor by initial obvious examination or, you guessed it, “following our nose.”

Unpleasant odors can arise from many sources on your pets. Sometimes it is simple; just being a dirty dog. However, there are other key culprit areas like dirty ears. With yeast infections in the ears they can smell like dirty socks with that musty, less-than-attractive smell. (Although sometimes other dogs in the house find that smell intriguing and will, in fact, lick their friend’s ears.) “Yeasty” ears tend to have a dark brown to blackish waxy material in them and oftentimes can be inflamed. If sore and red, contact your veterinarian for help. If they simply look “dirty” and are not inflamed you might try cleaning them yourselves with something like SENTRY 2-in-1 Ear Cleaner. This is a good idea for routine ear cleaning as well.

Another common area for “smells” is under the lips. Bad oral hygiene (dirty teeth and inflamed gums) is another common culprit of less-than-attractive odors. “Flip a lip” and if you notice tartar and/or gingivitis consult your “pet dentist” and they will probably recommend a professional cleaning. This includes our feline friends. For home care and general preventative oral care there are a multitude of great SENTRY Petrodex products available for home oral care.

While talking about the mouth area, in “heavy lipped” dogs and those that drool more, there also might be what is termed as lip fold pyoderma. This is a yeast or bacterial infection in the lower lip area. There can be inflammation, and/or a dark waxy looking appearance. Keeping the area clean and attempting to keep it dry may all that is needed. In more severe cases your vet may prescribe antibiotics and other maintenance cleaners for the area. Trimming hair in that area may also be warranted.

While yeasts are good for making our loaves of bread rise, they are not good when in abundance on the skin. Skin yeast infections can cause an offensive smell with your pet. Typically, yeast infections on the skin are symptoms of long-term problems. The skin will not only be smelly, but also typically have a “waxy” feel and there will be hair loss. Your vet may suggest oral medications and/or medicated shampoos.

Of course we can’t forget the more “southern end” of our pets as a source for unforgettable smells. In longer haired pets it may simply be feces attached (sometimes referred to as “butt nuggets” or “dingle berries.”) It may also be that the anal sacs are impacted/full and they may be “leaking.” Most pet parents equate this with the butt shuffle or scooting. Your vet may need to express these sacs to help alleviate the problem. This is not one of our more glamorous procedures.

The nose knows: If your pet is sporting some unwanted odors it may be something simple or maybe less simple. Don’t let them make you have to wear a clothespin on your nose. Have them checked out.  Of course, you will still have to ask someone else to smell this first, just to see if they will fall for it.

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