Why Our Pets Smell: FAQ About Pet Odor

Anal Sacs, Scooting, Skunks, and Questions About Stinky Dogs and Cats

Japanese Spitz staring at a camera
tapanuth / Getty Images

Bad odors in dogs and cats may indicate a health problem such as dental disease, anal sac abscess, infected ears, or a hot spot. In other cases, a bad odor may simply indicate that the pet needs a bath. Learn to smell the difference and visit your vet when needed.

  • 01 of 08

    Help: My Stinky Dog

    Dog in bath
    JanuarySkyePhotography / Getty Images

    Smelly pet questions are common. A typical email goes something like this:

    My dog has had a terrible odor for weeks. We have tried four different shampoos, and none of them have helped! Please let me know what the smell is from, and what would be a good shampoo to get rid of it.

    Here are some thoughts to consider.

  • 02 of 08

    Why Does My Pet Scoot?

    Dog scooting

    Narith5 / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

    Both dogs and cats have anal sacs that may become impacted or infected if not emptying properly. This causes itching, scooting, bad odors, and sometimes pain, too. Severe cases may abscess and rupture. Learn the signs of anal sac problems and how to keep your pet comfortable and scoot-free.

  • 03 of 08

    Sprayed by a Skunk

    Skunk and dog
    Daniel J. Cox / Getty Images

    Skunks normally mind their own business, but sometimes they are provoked to spray by an unsuspecting curious pet. The questions of what they spray, why they spray, and how do you get rid of the odor are answered here.

    Also, is the spray toxic? Find out what you need to do for post-skunk first aid for your pets to be safe.

  • 04 of 08

    Frito Feet: Why Do Dog Paws Smell Like Corn Chips?

    Dog paws
    LUM3N / Pixabay

    Questions about pet odors are common. Often a bad smell indicates a problem or disease process, but not always. What should you do if you notice that your dog's feet have an odor, often described as smelling like corn chips or old popcorn? Is this something to worry about? Read this FAQ to find out more about "Frito Feet."

    Continue to 5 of 8 below.
  • 05 of 08

    Stinky Eyes: What Causes a Bad Odor Around Eyes?

    Shih Tzu
    Daniela Duncan / Getty Images

    A viewer asks: "My Shih Tzu has an bad odor around his eyes. What causes that?"

    This is a common problem and one that needs daily attention to help keep odors and skin inflammation under control.

  • 06 of 08

    Smelly Leaking Puppy

    Puppy butt

    Jenny Frazier / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

    If you've ever asked: "My puppy is about seven months old and today she came in with a leakage from her anus that is a light brown color and smells like oil, should I be concerned?", this article is for you.

  • 07 of 08

    Hot Spots

    Dog hot spot on head

    Maja Dumat / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

    A hot spot is a localized area of skin inflammation and infection. The infection can be superficial or deep. These common skin lesions are usually caused (and made worse) by biting, licking, or scratching. The important thing for successful long term treatment of a hot spot is to find the underlying cause to break the cycle of continued skin trauma and resulting inflammation.

  • 08 of 08

    Skin Disease, Hair Loss and Scratching

    Cat scratching
    lothofoxburr / Pixabay

    Itching, scratching, fleas, allergies and hair loss are among the most common questions to veterinarians. Hair loss and scratching are very common signs that represent a multitude of possible health or parasite problems. Often the scratching, chewing and licking lead to secondary problems and bad odors.