stinky dog

Stinky dog needs a diagnosis & treatment

Question:
My 8-year-old male pit bull literally stinks, even a day after a bath. His teeth seem fine. He seems to feel ok, but is on the skinny side, even with feeding more. His coat looks fine and he does not scratch or lick himself. Just noticed the smell a few months ago.

Dr. Nichol:
Please understand that I didn’t just fall off the turnip truck; I’ve written this column–every single week-since 1996. I’ve heard it all. When I get questions on personal hygiene, I have to wonder. Is this one of those “I have a friend whose mere presence sends people scampering for the exits” – even with masks? It’s OK. I’m here to help but I am a veterinarian. The advice that follows is intended only for nonhuman animals.

There are multiple possible causes for your dog’s aroma. Your veterinarian can start by ruling-out the more common problems like dental disease, smoldering ear and genital infections, and leaking, often infected, anal glands. If those departments check-out, it’s your pupster’s skin that will need serious scrutiny.

A microscopic exam from several areas, called a cytology, is standard practice in the hunt for organisms. For a veterinary dermatologist’s advice I asked Dr. Rebecca Mount, of Dermatology for Animals in Albuquerque, to weigh-in. “The odor could be a bacterial or yeast infection on the skin, even without obvious signs of other skin disease. If there is a hormonal change like hypothyroidism (low thyroid) this dog could develop skin infections. Additionally, with him being thin there could be food intolerance or allergy making him prone to a bad smelling skin infection. A weird thing I’ve seen in a couple of dogs is, if they eat fish-based diets or high fish oil in the diet, they’ll start smelling generally fishy.” OMG! This weird thing could happen to me. I just finished a tuna sandwich.

Somewhat off-topic, I urge everybody to wear a mask, not only to protect yourself but others too. Like physicians, we veterinarians are trained in the airborne spread of respiratory infections. I know we can survive this if we’re smart. Have a merry and safe holiday season.

Dr. Jeff Nichol, a residency-trained veterinary behaviorist, provides consultations in-person and by telephone and Zoom (505-792-5131). Each week he shares a blog and a Facebook Live video to help bring out the best in pets and their people. Sign up at no charge at drjeffnichol.com. Post questions on pet behavioral or physical concerns on facebook.com/drjeffnichol or by US Post to 4000 Montgomery Blvd. NE, Albuq, NM 87109.