My dog smells bad….

My dog smells bad….

Unpleasant dog odour is a common reason for visits to the vet. Other symptoms of illness, are often ignored by carers. The decision to visit is only made when it becomes difficult to stand in the same room with the dog.

Why does your dog smell bad?

The cause of the unpleasant smell is often greasy seborrhoea. You only have to run your hand along your dog’s back to feel that it is greasy and smells like… rancid fat. The hair becomes dull, brittle and often sticky. Scales of exfoliated epidermis are visible on the skin. Seborrhoea is the result of impaired keratinisation, or exfoliation of the epidermis. In the dog, the recovery time of the epidermis averages 21 days. In the course of seborrhoea, this time is reduced to 7 days! The keratinisation process, as one of the elements of the epidermal barrier, hinders the colonisation of bacterial flora. If this process is disturbed, saprophytic flora proliferate (e.g. Staphylococcus intermedius – this is a bacterial flora that inhabits the dog’s skin, but if it grows excessively, it leads to infection). Another group of pathogens that readily inhabit the epidermis are yeasts of the genus Malassezia.

Greasy seborrhoea can occur as an underlying disease , but more often it accompanies another underlying condition e.g. endocrine disorders. It is a manifestation of the skin that signals that something worrying is going on inside the body.

Identification of causes

After a detailed clinical examination, additional tests should be performed to diagnose the underlying disease.

Some examinations, such as scraping for parasites or cytology (this is a microscopic examination of material taken from the skin and helps to identify the type of infection and the nature of the inflammatory infiltration), are usually already performed during the first visit.

Some results, e.g. for dermatophytes, have to wait a few days.

A blood test, for which the patient should be fasting, is also crucial.

In the differential diagnosis, we consider:

  • dermatitis in the course of: nematosis, cheyletiellosis, lice , ringworm and lymphoma of the cutaneous form
  • endocrinopathies (hormonal disorders): hypothyroidism, adrenal hyperfunction dietary
  • deficiencies (zinc, vitamin A)

Once the root cause has been identified, treatment should be undertaken, but the complicating factors should also be tackled.

Here, the use of shampoo therapy is helpful.

Shampoo therapy – what is it and how to use it?

In the course of this method, the selection of a suitable shampoo is important.

If we are dealing with oily seborrhoea, the shampoo should have keratolytic, keratoplastic properties and, depending on the type of complicating infection, also antibacterial and antifungal action.

It is also crucial to perform the bath in the right way. The following rules should be followed:

  • Dilute the shampoo with water in a ratio of 2:1
  • The water temperature must not be too high or too low (comfortable).
  • Pour water generously over the animal, lather the shampoo avoiding the area around the eyes and ears, rinse. The first bath is treated as a grooming bath. Its purpose is to wash away dirt.
  • Massage the shampoo into the skin again, wait 10-15 minutes (this is the time for it to be absorbed and for the active substances to take effect). Rinse off.
  • Dry off with a towel.
  • REWARD the animal.

Weather conditions should also be taken into account. In the case of the cold season, it is recommended to perform the bath after the last walk. The frequency of bathing is determined individually, after consultation with the doctor. At the beginning of the treatment, even every 7 days.

Between baths, the use of topical preparations in the form of sprays with local antibacterial and antifungal action is helpful.

Supplementation with preparations containing omega acids, zinc, selenium and biotin, vitamin A and vitamin E is also very important.

Ilona Blanc, veterinary surgeon, specialist in diseases of dogs and cats

4 November 2021