Your dog can smell like any things as they are sometimes running in dirt or chewing something smelly. But among the other bad smell, the smell of fish is the most unpleasant of them all.

If you are living by a pond or lake, the fishy smell makes a sense. However, sometime your dog will have a strong fish odor even if it has not been near the water.

So, why is your dog smelling fishy? This is a health problem and not just a smell coming from the body of your dog. So, this is the article about what is causing the smell and how to get rid of it.

Why is Your Dog Smelling Like a Fish?

The reason behind the fishy smell is either due to the yeast infection or the common anal gland disorder. Examine the body of the dog from the tip of its nose to the tip of its tail.

If it is a yeast infection, it will be caused by an ear infection, discharge of eyes, feet and other body infections. Yeast infection smells similar to the fish but does not have a too strong odor.

If the smell is strong and reeked of fish, go to the back of your dog and lift the tail. If the smell is strong there then it is not the yeast infection but the smell is from the anal gland of the dog. It is an anal disorder that is also known as an anal sac disease which is releasing the fishy smell.

Dog smelling like fish
Dog smelling like fish.
Image Source: NutriSource

What is Anal Gland and Anal Sac Disease?

Anal glands are the two small pouches that are located on each side of the dog’s anus. The glands release a smelly secretion that performs as a marker of the territory and their identification.

Each dog has a different and unique scent that helps them to know whose territory is that and also about their sex, age, and health.

Anal Sac disease is the term that is used to describe the anal gland problem. When the anal glands are full and blocked and the draining does not happen like normal, your dog has the anal sac disease. An old fishy odor comes from the back of your dog when they get this disease and it can be painful for them as well.

Position of anal glands in dogs
Position of anal glands in dogs.
Image Source:

What Causes Anal Gland Become Full?

When your dog defecates, it also empties the anal gland. The emptying of the gland is only possible when your dog is having a firm stool which puts enough pressure on the gland. If your dog is having a loose, soft stool, it will not put much pressure and the gland could not be emptied properly which will make it full.

Symptoms of Anal Sac Disease (Other than Fishy Odor)

  • Swelling of the anal area and becoming red.
  • Uncomfortable in sitting.
  • Dragging the body in a sitting position around the floor.
  • Licking and chewing the area.
  • Having a problem with defecating.

How to Get Rid of the Fishy Smell or Empty the Anal Sac?

Contact a groomer or a local vet who can perform to empty the anal gland. The process is not hard, they will express the anal gland and manually remove the fluid. You can remove the fluid on your own if you follow the right procedure. You just need to be careful and use gloves. Follow the steps in the video below.

Way to express your dog’s anal gland.

However, only expressing the anal gland and removing the fluid will not solve the problem. You have to know what caused loose motion due to which anal sac became full. The reasons might be improper feeding or unhealthy eating, lack of exercise, lack of fiber on the diet. And if the gland is not just full but also infected, the vet might have to perform surgery and remove the anal glands.


As you have read the article, you now know what caused the bad fish smell from your dog and also ways to treat them. Luckily, anal sac disease is easy to treat but also takes care of your dog and prevents it from getting any kind of health problems with proper, healthy diet and exercises.

Visit Doglime for more information about dogs health and feeding.