Every day veterinarians are asked by pet owners why their dog or cat smells so bad. The question is not always easy to answer and often the veterinarian must give animal a complete physical in order to discover the source of the odor. Sometimes even then the cause may remain obscure.
There are many potential sources for odor on dogs and cats. Starting from the front, the pet’s mouth is the first possible cause. Odors from the mouth may result from digestive gas rising from the stomach. Some pets are allergic to certain ingredients in their food and this food sensitivity could result in an abnormal amount of gas production. Switching to a different and preferably higher quality pet food could be the solution. A blood sample sent to the laboratory will help detect food allergies.
Mouth odor may also result from poor dental hygiene. Heavy tartar under and along an animals gum line is a perfect place for bacteria to multiply, producing obnoxious odors in the process. This same mouth odor may be spread to the entire body as the animal uses his or her tongue to wet the hair coat during the grooming process. Having your pet’s teeth cleaned yearly will do wonders in eliminating mouth and hair coat odor. In between cleanings consider brushing your pets teeth weekly.
Dirty or infected ears are another frequent source of body odor. In fact, odor from the ears is one of the first clues owners get that there may be an ear problem beginning. Routinely smelling both your pets ear’s is one way of getting the jump on developing ear infections.
Skin disease and a wet or soiled hair coat are amongst the most common sources of body odor. Stool, urine, and saliva may get spread on to the skin and hair producing objectionable odors. One skin disease known as “seborrhea” often results in the over production of skin oils which tend to trap obnoxious odors. Stool and urine collecting between the foot pads is another place to check when trying to discover the source of persistent odors on your pet. Keeping your pets coat clean and free of odor collecting matts should be performed as a part of routine preventive medicine. If you find it difficult to bathe your pet as often as might be needed to prevent odor accumulation consider dry shampoo and spray on pet deodorizers.
The rectal area can produce unpleasant smells in several ways. Large matts of hair and stool may frequently collect just under the tail and actually become so large that they prevent the passage of further stool from the anus. These matts must be cut out and the inflamed skin around the anus medically treated. The “anal glands” which lie under the skin on either side of the anus produce, perhaps, the most obnoxious and distinct of the body odors. Anal gland infections will cause dogs and cats to scoot their rear ends along the ground and frequently lick their anal area. To treat anal gland infections or impactions your veterinarian will have to flush these glands and infuse an antibiotic solution. If left untreated an anal gland abscess may occur. Having your veterinarian “express” or empty these glands on a regular basis, before they become impacted and abscess, is the logical method of prevention.
Excessive gas production, medically known as “flatus”, is an obvious cause to consider when trying to pin down the source of disturbing odors. An overproduction of intestinal gas may result from a variety of digestive disorders. Bacterial, viral and parasitic infections may cause diarrhea with accompanying smells. Food sensitivities/allergies and digestive enzyme deficiencies may be the cause for excessive gas. A medical exam along with testing of the pets stool will commonly determine the treatment needed to reduce gas production.
If your pet frequently smells bad and you have not been able to discover or successively eliminate the problem then it is probably time to see your veterinarian. The diagnosis and treatment of unusual body odors is something he does daily and consequently he is very good at it.