Species: Dog Breed: Golden Retriever Age: 6-12 months
Hello. I have two golden retrievers and the youngest is 11 months old. She has a terrible smell to her - one that doesn't go away with washing her, spraying her, or applying an oil I purchased from our vet. The vet gave her a quick lookover when I had my other dog in to see her and she sees nothing obvious. Nothing I do is working and her smell is as if she has some kind of infection. She does like to take dips in the pool (no chemicals, only salt water) so my vet said she believes that this is why she smells and once the pool is closed for the season, we will notice a huge improvement. Can you think of any other reasons she may have this terrible smell? I've read that corn in the food could be the issue but I'm hesitant to change their diet (from Iams) and unsure how long we will have to keep her on another food before noticing an improvement. Any information you can provide will be very appreciated! Thank you.
Dr. Marie replied:
Thanks for an interesting question! I have seen a number of dogs who have an odd odor. Sometimes we can find the cause, but not always. But, I can give you a few ideas.
Has your vet checked her anal glands? There is a gland on either side of the anus that fills up with debris. If these glands express themselves it can be VERY smelly. If a dog has an infection in the glands then they will produce a lot of material and leak often and the smell is horrible. You may want to ask your vet to express Euchre's glands and see if the smell is the same as what you are experiencing. If so, they may want to infuse some medication into the glands. Or, they may put her on some antibiotics.
Next, how are her ears? Can you tell if the smell is coming from there? I have seen some Goldens that have chronic ear infections and they don't seem to be bothered by them but they smell all the time. To test this out, put a q-tip into the ear (not so deep that you can't see the end) and see if you can get some waxy debris out. Then, smell the q-tip and see if the smell is coming from there. If so, you will need to ask your vet to do an ear cytology to find out what is growing in there and how to treat it.
Some dogs will be stinky because of material accumulating in skin folds. An 11 month old Golden is not likely to be too overweight so there won't be too many folds. But, have a look around her vulva and see if there are any folds there. If so, is there any debris in the folds? Do the same test with a q-tip and see if the odor is coming from there.
Next, it is possible that she has a tooth infection. It's not common in a young dog, but possible. See if any of the teeth have redness on the gums. Are any of them sore when you touch them? Can you tell if the odor is coming from the mouth?
One other thought, if the odor is coming from the mouth is a condition called helicobacter. This is a bacteria that lives in the stomach. It needs a combination of antibiotics and stomach medications to be cleared up.
It really is unlikely to be the food. While some dogs can have food allergies, this would cause itchy, irritated skin and not stinkiness.
If this were my case I may possibly consider a trial course of some antibiotics just in case there is an infection somewhere that we can't find. We don't do this all of the time though as there is a concern for antibiotic resistance. However, if the odor is that bad there has to be a reason for it!
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Dr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.
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