How to Get Rid of the Fishy Smell from a Dog

How to Get Rid of the Fishy Smell from a Dog

Dogs can smell horrible sometimes, but there’s nothing quite like the distinct fishy smells from a dog. If you’re concerned about your dog’s sudden fishy odor and wonder how you can eliminate this disgusting smell, then I can help.

Before I go into the tips in detail, it’s important to first understand why your dog has this fishy smell. Knowing the root cause will help you eliminate the stench.

For example, if it’s a persistent fishy odor, getting rid of it may require medical intervention. But if the smell isn’t health-related, home remedies such as bathing your dog thoroughly with baking soda will help.

How to get rid of fishy smell from dog

Lower down the page are all the possible reasons why your dog has the fishy odor. Getting rid of this smell may be straightforward or not, depending on the root cause. You can skip to those of just straight in to these ways of stopping the fishy situation:

1. A vet visit will do

If your dog suddenly develops a persistent fishy smell yet they aren’t on a fish-based diet, take them for a checkup.

The vet will confirm whether there’s an underlying condition triggering the stench. And if they do have a health problem, the treatment they’ll receive will tackle this horrible odor.

Seeing the vet is also recommended if your dog shows any signs of swollen anal glands. The vet will have to remove the excess fishy-smelling fluid by expressing these glands manually.

Once your vet gets this done, they will guide you on what to do to ensure your dog doesn’t suffer swollen anal glands again.

2. Do a quick bum clean-up after potty breaks

When matted poop lingers on your dog’s butt, it will continue to give off a fishy smell. You can get rid of the fishy smell by wiping your dog’s bum with a soft, moist cloth each time you see poop remains on their bum.

This clean-up trick will also help if your dog’s fishy odor starts after something that scares them happens – like fireworks, for instance.

Wiping the fear-triggered anal gland secretions will ensure the fishy stench doesn’t linger on your dog’s backside.

3. Use baking soda when giving your dog a thorough bath

If you suspect your dog’s fishy smell came up after a strolling session, you can give them a full body bath using a vet-recommended deodorizing dog shampoo.

Consider rubbing some baking soda on your dog’s wet body, then rinse it off after a few minutes. Baking soda does a fantastic job of eliminating unpleasant body odors like fishy smells.

You should also remember to change your furry friend’s bedding to prevent any fishy smells from transferring back to their clean body.

get rid of dog's fishy smells
Get rid of your dog’s fishy smell, he will thank you for it.

4. Consult your vet on a diet switch up

If your dog’s diet is causing the fishy stench, speak to your vet about how to switch to a fish-free diet.

Don’t introduce a whole new diet without your vet’s guidance. Also, opt for other healthy treats so your dog doesn’t eat fishy treats as often.

5. Improve your dog’s oral hygiene

Brushing your canine pal regularly using an enzymatic dog-safe toothpaste will help prevent periodontal diseases that cause fishy-smelling breath.

6. Make use of an ear-cleaning solution

If your furry pal is a water lover, you should talk to your vet about an ear-cleaning solution. This will help keep their ears dry. A moist ear environment often results in recurrent fishy-smelling yeast infections.

Reasons for the fishy smell

Knowing the cause of your dog’s fishy smell will help you get rid of it. Like every other awful dog odor, your dog’s rotten fish scent isn’t without a cause. There must be something triggering this gross stench, and the best way to get rid of it successfully is to know the real cause first.

Here are some of the common reasons why your dog has a fishy odor:

Anal sacs problems

Almost all fishy smell cases in dogs have something to do with the anal sacs. And often, this pungent odor comes from the dog’s butt — because the anal sacs are found here.

All dogs have two small anal sacs (or anal glands, as others call them) close to their anus.

These oval-shaped glands store an oily,fish-smelling substance that a dog secretes when they poop. It acts more like a lubricant during defecation.

When your canine friend finishes defecating, some bit of poop (which has traces of this foul-smelling substance) may remain trapped on the anal hairs. And as the poop dries up, it will still have that fishy smell.

Fear also triggers a dog’s body to release this substance. It will become a smelly nuisance once it dries out on your dog’s bum.

That’s not all, though.

Sometimes, issues like obesity, infection, loose stool, or constipation might close off the anal gland’s “exit” hole, making the smelly fluid build up in the glands. Swollen anal glands will mean a stronger fishy stench from your dog’s bum.

If your furry pal has swollen anal glands, you will notice them scooting quite often.

Yeast infection

Noticing excessive head shaking? How about a lot of licking on the paws, skin folds, or between the toes? Seeing any redness or constant licking on the vaginal area?

Your lovely canine may be having a yeast infection. This type of infection comes with a special kind of horror for dog parents — a fishy smell.

Rolling in fish carcass

We all know our four-legged pals like rolling in the yuckiest stuff alive.

If you love taking them for walks near the sea, they will roll in any rotten fish remains they find when you aren’t looking. This nauseating smell will linger on their body.

Fish-based diet

If your dog’s daily food usually contains fish as the main ingredient, or if fish supplements are part of their everyday diet, their breath will likely stink like fish.

Urinary Tract Infection

When your furry friend has UTI, their urine will smell a lot like decomposing fish.

Small traces of urine may dry up on their body after peeing, making the fishy scent easily detectable. You’ll also notice other signs, like a lot of whining during urination.

Dental issues

If the fishy stench comes from your dog’s mouth, they might be suffering from periodontal disease because of poor oral hygiene. Persistent fishy breath odor may also be a sign of a gastrointestinal issue or liver disease.

Pyometra infection

Unspayed furry queens are at risk of a serious uterus infection: pyometra.

If your female dog has this life-threatening condition, you’ll notice a strong, fish-smelling discharge from her vaginal area.

FAQs on the fishy smells

What home remedy gets rid of fishy smell on dogs?

You can bathe your dog with a vet-approved dog shampoo and baking soda. Also, wipe their bum often to remove any matted poop.

But it’s advisable to take them for a check-up to know if there’s a medical cause for the odor.

How do I get rid of the rotten smell of fish on my dog?

It’s best if you visit the vet to be sure there isn’t a health condition causing the strong fishy odor.

Other ways of getting rid of this smell include using baking soda when giving them a thorough bath, wiping their butt after potty, and making changes to their diet with your vet’s approval.

Why is my dog letting off a fishy smell?

As discussed earlier, they may be having swollen anal glands, a urinary tract infection, yeast infection, or dental issues. It may also be because they’ve rolled on dead fish remains.


We don’t expect our dogs to smell like fresh citrus all the time. Sure enough. Our noses can tolerate their far-from-good natural body odor that almost makes the entire house smell like a kennel.

But a strong fishy smell? One of the most unpleasant scents on the planet? I bet none of us can stand that, as much as we adore our canine buddies and like being around them every time.

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Marc Aaron

I write about the things we've learned about owning dogs, the adventures we have, and any advice and tips we've picked up along the way.

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