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    Why Does My Dog Smell Like Fish?

    Why Does My Dog Smell Like Fish?

    by Health / 3 min read


    Estimated Read Time: 6 minutes

    Summary: Does your dog’s butt smell like fish? In this blog, we’ll look into the potential reasons your dog’s rear end is stinky. Read more to answer the question, “why does my dog smell like fish?”


    Our canine companions are often accompanied by a smell! After all, we’re all very familiar with the ‘wet dog’ aroma - but that’s nothing a simple bathing & grooming routine and a doggy perfume spray can correct.

    It’s very natural and normal for a dog to have a slight smell - but what if the odor becomes eye-wateringly foul?! That’s when there could be something to worry about…

    Why Does My Dog Smell Like Fish?

    Amongst the array of odors our dogs can produce, one that is often pungent and noticeable is a fishy aroma… But, why does your dog smell like fish? And more importantly, where is the smell coming from?

    If the odor is coming from their rear end, it could be your dog’s anal glands…

    What Are The Anal Glands?

    Your pup, like every other canine, has two anal glands, positioned on either side of their anus. When your dog poops, these glands release a pungent, unique liquid which some experts believe is designed to tell other dogs who the poop - and territory - belongs to (that’s why they usually love to sniff it). It’s another way for your pup to mark their scent! 

    However, this is regularly argued, as other experts believe the anal gland liquid is produced as a natural lubricant to help your dog pass hard stools.

    A fawn-colored French Bull sits, facing away, showing its rear end and small tail


    Why Do My Dog’s Anal Glands Smell?

    Now, it’s not uncommon for these sacs to become clogged or damaged. If that’s the case, your pup may start to bite their butt or scoot across the floor to help relieve the discomfort they’re experiencing. 

    Unfortunately, if you notice your pup biting their rear end and scooting, you may also notice a horrid smell, which is known amongst puppy parents as, ‘fish butt’... That’s right! When your dog’s anal glands are impacted or clogged, they release a pungent and very unpleasant fishy odor that can be smelt from another room! If you think your dog passing wind is bad, it’s nothing compared to this foul smell…

    What To Do If Your Dog’s Butt Smells Like Fish…

    How To Express Dog Anal Glands

    If you do notice this unavoidable smell, take your pet to see the vet to get their anal glands checked over. Now, although this sounds very unpleasant, your pup may need their anal glands expressed. It’s a very simple procedure that shouldn’t cause your dog too much discomfort - just a lot of relief once it's done (for both your sense of smell and your dog’s comfort).

    It is very common for small dog breeds to need their anal glands expressed more often. Your veterinarian may show you how it’s done and offer direction and instruction for you to express your dog’s anal glands if the issue should occur again. Your dog’s anal glands may also be emptied by your groomer if they're comfortable and correctly trained.

    Check Your Dog’s Poop

    Checking your dog’s poop can help a huge amount when it comes to trying to avoid/prevent your dog’s anal glands from smelling like fish and becoming clogged.

    You see, when your dog passes a hard, healthy stool, it will put pressure on the anal glands, which helps them empty naturally. However, if your dog regularly has loose or stools that are too soft, it can stop the anal glands from working correctly - resulting in health issues and vile smells!


    If your dog’s butt smell like fish, you should check what they're eating. Are you feeding them a high-fiber diet?  A diet with the right amount of fiber can support healthy bowel movements and help your dog's stool consistency - which, in turn, will help their anal gland health.

    Regular Exercise

    It’s always ideal to make sure your dog is getting regular exercise. Not only for their general health and well-being, but also to support their anal gland health. If you’re unsure whether you’re providing your dog with enough exercise, take a look at our handy PetLab Co. Exercise Guide below;

    a red, white and blue infographic detailing how much exercise a dog needs depending on their breed/size


    Author Dr. Klien, Jerry,Anal Glands In Dogs: Everything You Need To Know”, August 31st, 2021, American Kennel Club,

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