How To Get Rid Of Fishy Smell From Dog? (Swollen Anal Sacs)

how to get rid of fishy smell from dog

You might be wondering why your dog occasionally smells like fish. There are several possible causes, including your dog’s bottom (anal sacs), breath, a female during the breeding season, or a dog who has been scared or stressed. If your dog does have a strong odor, that may be a sign of health problems. However, when should you be concerned, what should you do, and how can you stop it from happening again?

What Should You Do If My Dog Smells of Fish?

Always seek advice from your veterinarian if you suspect that your dog may be sick or if you notice that they have a fishy odor. The severity of the problem and your dog’s condition can be evaluated by your veterinarian, who can then suggest a course of action.

Although some groomers provide the service of expressing your dog’s anal sacs, it is always best to speak to your vet in the first instance as there may be an underlying health issue that needs to be addressed.

Why Does Your Dog Smell Fishy?

Here are four reasons for your dog smell dishy.

Swollen anal sacs.

Anytime your dog poop, anal sacs release a liquid scent marker. (Your dog sniffs the poop and butts of other dogs for this reason.) This scent marker always has a slightly fishy smell, but here are signs to watch out for if you notice a really fishy odor:

  • Scooting, licking, and other signs of discomfort. Your dog probably has swollen anal sacs if it frequently drags its butt across the floor or excessively licks and bites at its anus.
  • Obvious swelling to the left and right of the anal opening. Each side of the anal opening in dogs has a separate anal sac. If there are puffed-out bumps directly to the left and right of the opening, you can assume that your dog has swollen anal sacs.
  • Evidence of less common but more serious issues. Both anal sacs may be infected if there is pus or blood oozing from one or both of them, or if they are red and feel noticeably warm to the touch. Your dog might have a tumor if either anal sac is swollen and extremely hard to the touch (rather than still slightly pliable). In either case, get your dog to the vet right away.

Urinary Tract Infection (UTI).

If your dog’s urine smells fishy, this is a likely scenario. However, you should also consider a UTI if your dog’s urine smells significantly different or has grown particularly strong (even if not fishy). If you think your pet may have a UTI, call your veterinarian.

  • A fishy urine smell may occasionally result from kidney stones or bladder infections.


Unspayed female dogs who have uteri are affected by this infection. In addition to a fishy smell, keep an eye out for symptoms like vaginal discharge, frequent urination, fatigue, abdominal swelling, and decreased appetite.

  • If you suspect pyometra, contact your veterinarian right away.

Periodontal Disease.

A gum infection may cause your dog’s breath to smell fishy. Improved dental care, such as brushing your dog’s teeth, won’t resolve the issue on its own; instead, consult your veterinarian for an accurate diagnosis and treatment strategy.

  • Even though they are less frequent, kidney disease, digestive issues, or diabetes can also be indicated by breath that smells fishy. So don’t ignore your dog’s foul breath!

How Do You Squeeze Or Empty My Dog’s Anal Sacs?

Even though canine anal sac problems can frequently be excruciatingly painful, if your dog does not suffer from such issues, you should leave them alone. If this is the first time your dog has displayed symptoms, it’s crucial that you refrain from attempting to express their anal sacs yourself. Unless directed by a veterinarian, manual anal sac emptying can traumatize the animal and harm the anal sac duct.

If your dog needs treatment more than once, your veterinarian may decide to express your dog’s anal sacs. However, you should never do this without your veterinarian’s approval. Some groomers might also be able to express anal sacs, but if your dog does require further assistance, you should first talk to your veterinarian about the best ways to handle the situation. When it’s unnecessary, expressing your dog’s anal sacs too frequently can lead to further damage or complications down the road.

How Can You Prevent Anal Sac Disease?

Any dog can be affected by anal sac disorders and it isn’t always clear why it occurs, but you can take the following actions to try to reduce your dog’s risk of anal sac disorders:

  • Feed your dog a good quality diet that contains the right amount of fiber
  • Make sure they’re getting enough regular exercise
  • Give your dog access to water so that they stay well hydrated
  • Keep an eye on your dog’s stools to ensure they’re not too soft
  • Keep your dog at a healthy weight. Although some veterinarians disagree, it has been suggested that obese dogs are more likely to experience problems with their anal sacs. Nonetheless, keeping your dog at a healthy weight is one of the best ways to maintain their overall health
  • Know the signs to watch out for that your dog may be beginning to suffer from anal sac issues

How to get rid of the fishy smell from dogs? Treating issues with the anal sac is not too difficult. The fishy odor should disappear once the underlying problem is fixed, so don’t worry. If your dog needs routine anal gland expression, the smell of fish should serve as a reminder to take them to the vet or to the groomer.