My Labrador Smells So Bad, What To Do?

Labradors are known to be one of the smelliest breeds in the canine world. There are several reasons for that. Labs can smell as they really enjoy rolling in stinky and dirty things like mud, poop, marsh, slime… Other reasons might be bad hygiene, poor grooming, skin/ear infections, allergies, bad diet, or more serious health conditions like diabetes or pet cancer.

So If your Labrador smells bad you should first detect the cause. On some occasions, a good bath can solve the issue, but in some others, the vet’s help is needed. However to reduce the bad smell in Labradors, do keep good dental hygiene, do regular grooming to prevent ear and skin infections. Make sure you feed your Lab with high-quality food and take your pet to the annual vet check-up regularly to avoid overlooking some serious disease that also can cause a bad smell in Labradors.

How To Find A Cause of Bad Smell In My Labrador?

The cause of bad smell in Labrador is sometimes obvious but sometimes you need time to discover where the bad smell comes from.

Check Labrador’s Coat

Labs like to play in water and dirt. They like to roll in different nasty and smelly things like dirt, mud, animals waste, plant material, etc.

The most common ”culprit” is Lab’s double coat. Generally, dogs with double, water-proofed, thick coats smell worse than single-coated dogs. The double coat is very useful to these dogs as protects their sensitive skin from all kinds of infections, cuts … but at the same time, it can easily trap damp, debris, dirt, bacteria. If these things stay trapped in the coat for a couple of days, there is no doubt that your Lab will smell horrible.

So knowing the fact that your Lab has a double coat, you need to groom it regularly. Daily brushing ( 10-15 min a day) is a must during the shedding period while weekly brushing is fine for the rest of the year, as well as occasional baths ( once per month ). You should be bathing your Lab more often as his sensitive skin may end up irritated. Always use dog-friendly shampoos, most of Lab owners agree on organic oatmeal shampoos as the best choice.

If your Lab gets wet it’s super important to dry him thoroughly to avoid a bad smell. The wet coat intensifies the bad smell, that’s why is crucial to dry your dog as soon as possible.

Check Labrador’s Skin

Labs are prone to different kinds of allergies and skin infections. Dog’s immune system sometimes has a strong reaction to allergens or other substances from the environment like food, chemicals, dust, etc. In response to these allergens, the dog’s immune system produces a protein called IgE. Further, IgE causes the release of histamines, chemicals that cause irritation and allergic reaction. The problem with Labs is that their immune system produces more IgE protein comparing to other dog breeds. That’s why they tend to be more allergic than others.

The most common substances that trigger allergic reactions in Labs are wheat, soy, chicken, beef, dairy products, lamb, eggs…

Skin allergies make Lab’s skin vulnerable and itchy, so your dog’s skin becomes a perfect place for bacteria growth and different kind of skin infections.

If you notice that your Lab smells like cheese, check his skin since the cheese smell may come from yeast infection on the skin.

If you think that your Lab’s feet smell like corn chips, you are not crazy! The growth of bacteria called Pseudomonas and Proteus will cause that characteristic Fritos smell of your Lab’s feet.

If you don’t solve the problem ( skin allergy /infection) with a certified vet, your Lab’s skin might become the source of a very bad smell.

Check Labrador’s Ears

Ears infections are also very common in Labradors. They have floppy ears so dirt, bacteria, debris can easily find their way in and stay trapped there. You can imagine how smelly that can be!

If your dog gets wet, and you don’t dry his ears thoroughly, note that excess moisture in Lab’s ears leads to yeast and bacteria growth.

Talk to the vet about the most suitable ear cleaning solution and don’t forget to clean your Lab’s ears regularly. What does it mean? Since you have a dog with floppy ears, you need to clean them at least once in two weeks. If your Lab spends a great deal of time in the water, then weekly ears cleaning is recommended.

Check Labrador’s Diet

We have seen that some food may cause skin allergies which further may cause skin infections in your Lab. If your Lab is affected, he might smell bad.

Another way the food may influence your Lab’s smell is intolerance to certain ingredients. Poor diet, rich in grains, sugars … may cause excessive flatulence which smell is not the pleasant one.

Exessive wind in Labs may sometimes signal the underlying health issues so never take flatulence for granted!

If you have just changed the diet of your Lab and he has started to smell bad, consult with the vet, obviously something in that food is not good for your canine friend.

Check Labrador’s Teeth

Dental problems in Labs may cause very bad breath. The build-up of plaque and tartar leads to bacteria growth and eventually bad breath.

Good oral hygiene means that you will be cleaning your Lab’s teeth at least 3 times a week. If you can do it, every day, even better, but three times a week will do the work. This way you will reduce the possibility of your Lab getting some periodontal disease and bacteria growth which is the major culprit of bad breath.

Check Labrador’s Anal Sacs

One of the most common reasons for bad smell in Labs is impacted anal glands. Every dog has two small sacs on its bottom. They are marking glands, that’s why dog smells each other rear end when they meet. If those glands are impacted, extremely smell substances will be released and end up on your pet’s fur, causing him to stink horribly. Some people describe this smell as fishy.

If you notice that your Lab is dragging his butt over the floor, he is having issues with his anal gland and most likely needs your help. Not to mention how painful this condition can be for the dog and extremely uncomfortable since the dog is straining to defecate.

Check Labrador’s General Health

Sometimes the cause of a bad smell in Labs is hard to find. Sometimes the bad smell is a signal that your dog is some major health problem like diabetes, urinary infection, or even cancer.

If you noticed that your Lab has bad breath ( like he drank a very sweet tea or fermented apples ) that can be a sign of diabetes.

If your pet smells like sour milk, that can be the sign of impacted anal glands or yeast infection but also can indicate a urinary infection in your Lab.

In case your Lab smells like urine and you are pretty sure that you are keeping him clean and tidy, this could be the sign also of UTI ( Urinary tract infection ) but also a problem with kidneys and diabetes.

Labs that suffer from pet cancer have an indefinite foul odor. Usually, these dogs have bad breath or unpleasant smell around dog’s nose or tail end

How Do I Make My Labrador Smells Better?

The fact that all Labradors have a certain smell, is something you cannot change. The majority of Lab owners get used to that smell and stop noticing it. Of course, we are talking here about the normal smell and in case you keep your dog well-groomed and healthy. So the question should is – what you can do to make your Lab smells moderate, not causing discomfort for the people around him.

  1. Keep Lab’s coat clean and tidy. Note that water-proof, thick double coat and can trap many things like debris, bacteria, plant material, dirt. If you allow these tings to stay in Labs coat for couple of days, funky smell is unevitable. So regular daily brushing ( during sheding season ) and weekly brusing ( during rest of the year) are a must. Bathe your canine friend once per month with organic oatmeal shampoo and don’t forget to dry him thoughly to avoid that ”wet dog” smell. Don’t think that if your Lab spend a lot of time swimming in local lake, pond, pool you don’t have to brush/bath him. Water only is not enough to remove all dirt, debris or other nasty things that are trapped in his coat.
  2. Even between two baths is perfectly acceptable to rinse your Lab, espcially if he rolled himself in some dirt. Make sure your rinse it well, use hand to shake his coat. After you finished the bath or a quick rinse, you can sprinkle a tiny amount of corn starch or baking soda over Lab’s coat while still wet. These will abosrb the smell. Don’t overdo with the amount as if you do, starch or baking soda may end up caking on your Lab’s coat.
  3. It’s not enough to keep your dog clean, you need to keep his belonging clean either ( bed, blanket, toys, collar, harness, leash). Note that if your dog is using your sofa on regular basis, he might leave his smell on it Since you cannot wash sofa often, it’s good idea to cover it with some nice sofa cover.
  4. You can find different dog -friendly parfumes and deodorant in spray. These products are designed to mask the bad smell or at lease to reduce it a little bit. There is good article about this topic if you want to know more. Note that they are not a substitute for a good bath and regular hygiene practice.
  5. Since one of the major culprit of bad smell in Labs is thier habit to roll in stinky things they find outside, you should find some alterntative entertainment. It’s true that you cannot prevent your dog to jump into mud and animal waste but at least you can try to occupy his mind with some other less smelly games.
  6. Good dental hygiene and regular ear cleaning will contribute better smell of your dog. You will reduce the possibility your dog to suffer from peridontal disese, bad breath, ear infections ….
  7. Feed your dog with quality food. High quality food shoud be consit of 50% animal protein, 30 complex carbohydrtes and 20% of fruit and vegetables. Avoid food rich in corn, soy, rice, bread. Don’t feed your Lab with the food with too much complex carbohydrates. Choose the food that is high in essential fatty acids, omega -3 acids, minrals and vitamins. Select the food with recognizable, whole -food ingredients. If you notice that some food cause excessive gas and flatulance in your Lab, consult with the vet and start looking for better type of food.
  8. Desexing procedure may help with a bad smell. Sometimes that cause of bad smell in Labs are pheromons. These are chemical singals for communication with other dogs. If your Lab is not spayed /neutered, he/she may produce more pheromones.
  9. Keep your home clean and tidy. Even if you bathe a dog regularly and wash all of his things, if you don’t clean your home on regular basis, it will have that doggy smell even if your Lab is smell-free.
  10. Visit the vet on regular basis. Even if your Lab is perfectly heathy from your point of view, it’s good to have a regular vet check-up since many dieses don’t come with the symptoms right away. Prevention is always better then cure. If your Lab get cancer or kidney disease, the bad smell will be the least of your problems.

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