Why am I so stinky?

| July 12, 2014 | 0 Comments
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Golden retriever in flowers

Dr Zeus

Dr. Zeus

Dr. Zeus is known as BISS Am GCH Can CH Gingerbred Celestial Thunder JH, CGC by the AKC and just plain old Zeus to his friends. He has traveled far and wide in his four years. All across the US and Canada where he learned many things about being a great dog. His show career brought him to the elite of the sport and he hopes his new passion of hunting will also bring him great success. In all of his travels Zeus has met many dogs of all breeds. His insight and knowledge is how he achieved his honorary doctorate in “How to be a dog”. If you have a question for him, Zeus would happy to give you a dog’s perspective, so please send them to AskDrZeus@retrieverlife.com.

Dear Dr. Zeus, In this warm weather I have become increasingly stinky. So much so that I don’t get to sleep on the bed because the smell permeates EVERYTHING! Why am I so stinky? I haven’t rolled in anything deliciously dead and I get bathed all the time. Help! – Maximo the Golden

Dear Maximo, I have a (stinky) friend that is in a similar situation so think I know just the solution for you. In the summer months, and this is especially true for dogs with double coats, there are three main causes for canine body odor. If your dog is eliciting a stink that cannot be pinpointed, it can usually be traced back to the bacteria or yeast present in the skin. Oily skin may also be a factor as well as there is always the obvious alternative that you did in fact roll in something dead! But let’s assume you didn’t. In the summer months when it gets warmer the heat prompts the bacteria or yeasts growth that lives on your dogs skin, which in some cases creates an unidentifiable stench. It always fascinates me to think of skin in this way, but it is the largest organ in a dog’s body and it is an eliminating organ. This means that everything that flows through the immune system is forced through or filtered out through the skin. The immune system forces the metabolic debris to the skin where the dogs own bacteria eats it. This is all perfectly natural and is also a fascinating example of symbiosis on a microscopic level! Another interesting aspect of a dog’s skin is that a dog’s coat is naturally self-cleaning, via the bacteria, but also by the actual design of their hair, which have upward facing scales that move debris and dirt away from the skin. Where the odor comes into play is when this symbiotic system is overwhelmed and the output is greater than the bacteria on the dogs skin can consume. The smell is debris on the skin decomposing.

Just like people, some dogs have oilier skin than others. If this is the case, the smell comes from the excess of oil building up on the skin and the bacteria not being able to consume it fast enough. This is a condition that is called primary seborrhea, and can usually be identified by yellow or brown scales that can typically be found on the elbows, hocks, and around the dogs ears. This condition results in either dry or oily skin that emits a foul odor. This is often subdued with special shampoo.

Both options discussed above do put the dog’s skin at risk, especially with outside bacteria and yeast, which can potentially cause more damage to the skin. There are preventative measures one can take though to make sure their dog’s skin is healthy. One of which is paying attention to what is actually in the shampoo that you are washing your dog with. Surprisingly, Head and Shoulders is a great option for a dog with smelly skin due to bacteria or excess debris because it contains zinc! Anti-fungal and anti-bacterial shampoos are also a great solution as they keep the skin clean and act as deodorizers. Sometimes making a dietary change can be a great help too, as some foods promote a higher level of oil production in dogs as opposed to others.

I hope that this helps you out, Maximo! In the meantime, stay out of the heat.

Regards, Dr. Zeus

Category : Ask Dr. Zeus

Misha Abbenhouse

About the Author ()

Being surrounded by the Great Northwest for the entirety of my life I have come to really enjoy the outdoors, loving the rain almost as much as the fleeting sunshine and all the activities that come along with it. I've always loved animals especially those of the equine and canine variety. My intense interest in dogs led me to start writing about the adventures that Indy, my black lab, and I shared. Aside from animals, I love to read and write and college really fostered this love and I now find myself being able to couple my two great loves of writing and dogs.

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