Last Updated on April 4, 2023 by The Puppy Mag
For some people, what their dog smells like is an important factor when it comes to picking a breed. Certain breeds have a strong ‘doggy’ aroma while others seem to lack that unmistakable canine stench.
Poodles are typically very clean and rarely smell bad. However, just like all dogs, poodles may smell bad at some point in their lives for several reasons.
Are Poodles Naturally Smelly?
So, what causes a dog to smell? Well, setting aside medical issues, we need to consider things like fur type, skin type, and propensity to drool.
The Poodle has a reputation for being a ‘clean’ dog that does not have a strong odor. Along with the fact that they are a hypoallergenic, low shedding breed, they are a very popular choice with those that are house proud and sensitive to smells.
Of all the dog breeds out there, Poodles are one of the best smelling there is. They don’t drool much and their skin and coat do not tend to trap or emit bad smells.
However, certain individuals can be smelly, depending on what is going on with them. Below, we discuss why some Poodles may start to emit a foul stench.
8 Reasons Why a Poodle Might Start to Smell Bad
Although Poodles rarely give off a strong doggy odor, there are still many causes of bad smell that could eventually affect your curly-haired friend. Let’s run through the 8 most common causes of bad odor found in poodles.
- Dental disease
- Ear infection
- Yeast or bacterial overgrowth
- Ingrown claw
- Anal gland issues
- Kidney disease
1. Dental Disease
Genetically, the Poodle is predisposed to developing dental disease. While this can happen at any age, those who are middle-aged or older tend to be affected most often.
Owners may notice excessive drooling, red gums, a decreased appetite, and a bad smell coming from the mouth.
Sometimes, the smell is obvious without having to get too close. Other times, you would need to go right up to your dog’s mouth to detect anything abnormal. The bad smell is due to the bacterial build-up and can even smell like feces in some instances.
The treatment is typically a dental cleaning as well as a course of antibiotics and anti-inflammatories. Those with advanced dental disease typically require dental extractions.
We can help prevent periodontal disease by brushing our Poodle’s teeth every day and offering dry kibble rather than canned food. Canned food cakes on teeth and act as a food source for bacteria.
2. An ear infection
As the ears of the Poodle are pendulous and covered in thick fur, the canal is not well ventilated. On top of this, many Poodles have furry ear canals.
This means that the canal is often moist and warm; the perfect environment for yeast and bacteria to thrive. Signs of an ear infection include a bad smell from the ear, head shaking, scratching at the ear and lethargy.
It is important not to try and treat an ear infection without veterinary supervision. Ear infections can be caused by foreign bodies or polyps (benign growths), which need to be checked for.
Sometimes, an ear infection will cause a ruptured eardrum and liquid should not be applied within the canal in these cases. After the dog’s ear has been checked and any discharge swabbed, the treatment usually consists of an ear cleaner, medicated ear drops, and oral anti-inflammatories.
Related: Puppy Breath Smells Like Metal: What This Means
3. Yeast or bacterial overgrowth
If you’ve noticed your Poodle’s skin feels greasy, is pink, and has a musty smell, they may have a skin infection. For most, these are associated with underlying medical issues such as atopic dermatitis or a parasitic infestation.
You may have noticed your dog is irritated by their skin; licking their paws, rubbing their face, or scratching incessantly with their claws. Some dogs will be so irritated that they’ll need some prescription anti-itch medicine to break the itch-scratch cycle and allow their skin to settle.
Most will need a medicated wash. For deeper infections, your vet will prescribe oral antibiotics or antifungals. The course of oral medicine can last several weeks and it is important that all medicine is given as prescribed.
If your Poodle has dry and flaky skin, they may have developed seborrhoea. The skin will be red and oily and there will be a characteristic odor.
For many patients, this smell is made worse by secondary infections. Seborrhoea is generally an indicator that your Poodle has something else going on, such as a hormonal imbalance or allergies.
Treatment is ongoing and typically consists of skin supplements, anti-seborrheic shampoos, and anti-itch medicine.
5. An ingrown claw
Ingrown claws occur more commonly in older Poodles who may exercise less and have thickened claws. Affected dogs may be lame, reluctant to walk, and will lick the sore paw.
We can visibly see the claw growing into the pad and there may be swelling, redness, and ooze. The bad smell can be really foul and tells us there is bacterial overgrowth.
As well as clipping the ingrown claw, most require antibiotics and medicine to reduce swelling. Your vet may also issue a buster collar to prevent self-trauma and a medicated wash to bathe the paw as it heals. It is a good idea to trim all of the claws, to ensure the same thing does not happen to them.
6. Anal gland disease
Every dog has two anal glands, located on either side of their anus. For many breeds, they never pose an issue. However, for a large number of Poodles, especially the smaller varieties, they can become impacted and infected.
The odor associated with anal gland disease is usually described as metallic or fishy. We can prevent issues by ensuring our Poodle gets plenty of exercise, is not over-weight, and gets enough fiber in their diet. Some individuals will need to have their glands physically expressed every month or two.
While diabetes itself will not cause a bad smell, dogs that develop ketoacidosis can start to emit a sickly sweet smell on their breath. This only occurs when the diabetes is uncontrolled. Early signs include excessive thirst, an insatiable appetite, and weight loss. This hormonal disease is easily diagnosed, via a blood and urine analysis. For most dogs, they will require insulin injections alongside a diet change.
8. Kidney disease
When a Poodle has advanced chronic kidney disease, the toxin build-up can lead to a strong, ammonia-rich smell from their breath. At this stage, the dog will be visibly unwell and will usually be underweight and in poor condition.
While there is no cure for kidney disease, we can help keep our Poodle comfortable by putting them on a prescription diet and using medication such as anti-nausea drugs and antacids.
8 Tips to Keep Your Poodle Smelling Great
While you may assume that the fragrant Poodle you’ve noticed in the local dog park is naturally sweet-smelling, it’s likely their owner has played a part. There are a few simple steps we can take to ensure our Poodle stays stench-free.
- Have your Poodle professionally groomed several times a year. Trimming their fur short prevents dirt and debris from getting trapped. If your Poodle is prone to ear infections, the groomer may also pluck any extra fur out of their ear canals.
- Bathe your Poodle with a hypoallergenic shampoo once a month. Poodles need more regular bathing than other breeds, stripping excess oils and yeast from their skin.
- Brush your Poodle’s teeth every day. This is critical and is something that should start from a young age. There are dog specific brushes and pastes available. Dental chews and products such as ‘Plaque Off’ also play a role in dental health.
- If required, have your Poodle’s anal glands emptied regularly. This should be done as soon as your Poodle starts to show signs of gland disease, such as bum scooting.
- Brush your Poodle every day. This spreads their natural oils and keeps their skin and coat in tip top condition. Over time, this can prevent certain skin diseases from developing.
- Address any underlying allergies and try to avoid the trigger when possible. This may mean feeding a hydrolysed diet and wiping your Poodle’s paws and bellies when they come in from the outside.
- Keep your Poodle up to date with a good quality parasite prevention.
- Make sure your Poodle is seen for regular health checks. For adults, this usually means a visit once or twice a year. However, for senior Poodles, they will need to be seen more often than this.
Should Any Smells Warrant a Vet-Visit?
You may be wondering if the bad smell you’ve noticed is cause for concern. This will depend on several factors.
Try to determine where the smell is coming from. If you can find the source of the smell, this helps determine how serious the issue is. If the smell is localized to the fur and goes away after a good scrub, your dog may just have rolled in something unsavory!
Is it a strong smell that has come on suddenly? If so, this likely indicates an infection, and a vet visit is needed.
Finally, if the smell is associated with other signs such as a change in appetite or lameness, it is time to get your Poodle to the nearest vet.
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