Why Does My Dog Smell Sour? Let’s Find Out

Dogs should come with a disclaimer when you get them.

Warning: your pooch can get extremely stinky.

This isn’t a bad thing — they are curious creatures who will run, sit, and roll in anything.

But what happens when you wash your dog and that foul odor is still present and stronger than ever?

You don’t want to be greeted by foul smells coming from your cute best friend every time you enter your home.

A sour milk smell can be the result of a variety of different reasons, some of which are slight hygienic issues, while others are serious medical dilemmas.

In this article, we’ll be answering the question: why does my dog smell sour? 

Let’s get into it.

5 Reasons Your Dog Smells Sour

Ear Infections

why does my dog smell sour

Muck and dirt love to build up in those warm crevices of your pup, and this does not exclude the ear.

The ear canal can be the perfect place for bacterial and yeast infections to occur, with this being one of the most common sources of a lingering, unpleasant smell.

To determine that this is the root of the strong odor floating around your home, you must look for the telltale signs of an ear infection.  These include scratching the ear, scabs inside the ear, a large deposit of wax followed by dark discharge, and, of course, a foul ear smell.

If you believe your pet has developed this type of problem, you should seek medical attention. A vet will find the exact type of bacteria causing the infection and administer the right treatment, which usually includes antifungal medication antifungal medication.

Basset Hounds and other breeds with floppy ears are the most susceptible to bacterial infections in the ear, and steps should be taken to prevent the build-up of wax, such as regular ear cleanings.

Urinary Tract Infection

Unfortunately, a common source of sour odors in dogs can be their genitalia.

That’s right, a bladder infection can develop in your pet, resulting in a Urinary Tract Infection or UTI. This can produce strange odors, which are not easy to identify physically.

So, if you notice frequent toilet use, crying and whining when urinating, or even discharge and a sour smell in their bodily fluids, then your pup will need medical attention. 

Not only this, but your dog will start to break their housetraining, urinating in uncommon areas of the house. Therefore, don’t scold your poor pup instantly, as they may be going through a troubling illness.

After you take your pooch to the vet, they will discuss the symptoms you have observed. They will then take blood samples and test them for a multitude of conditions, such as kidney stones, diabetes, and of course, the terrible UTI.

Poor Dental Hygiene

dog dental hygiene

As humans, our daily routine includes waking up and brushing our teeth and then again before we go to sleep.

However, this isn’t the same for your pooch. 

Unless you are a devoted pet owner who will brush your dog’s teeth on a regular basis, their only method for removing bacteria and plaque is through dental sticks and bones.

If this heavy tartar is allowed to build up and is left untreated, your pup can develop dental infections such as gum disease and periodontal disease that can result in extremely bad breath.

It’s extremely important that you inspect your dog’s mouth consistently, and if you notice signs of poor dental health, such as difficulty eating, bad breath, blood-stained saliva, or consistent drooling, then you might have a pup with a painful infection.

This needs to be sorted out with a vet immediately. Not only is it causing your pet discomfort and agony, but it can also lead to more dilemmas, like kidney disease or yeast infections.

Your medical professional is likely to give your dog a thorough dental cleaning with oral antibiotics to get rid of the infection. If you want to prevent this, then make sure you are cleaning your dog’s mouths regularly.

They Have Rolled in Something Foul

dog with skin condition

Next up isn’t a worrying medical condition, but it is a common problem that every dog has. Rolling in fox excretion.

And it can be infuriating.

If you let your pooch off the leash for a second and they immediately seek out some dung to roll in, you’re not alone.

But sometimes they do it unnoticed and you only get a whiff when you get home because whatever they have rolled in has mixed with their hair follicles and caused a bad smell.

Although it does not require deep attention, you do need to get it cleaned instantly.

Leaving feces on your pet can develop into a much more serious skin condition. Bacteria can grow on the skin, delving into their pores. Once this happens, they will itch and scratch the area, resulting in it getting deeper into the skin and them developing a bacterial infection.

Skin issues are a reason for even worse nasty odors, and you can tell this has happened by simply observing a change in skin color. Certain areas are red and swollen, and the smell becomes unbearable.

In this case, you will need to visit your vet, who will prescribe antibiotics and treat the area. 

Even if your dog hasn’t rolled in feces, but they are starting to smell and the skin is looking irritated, they may have developed a skin condition that requires treatment from the vet, so make sure you wash your canine and inspect your dog’s skin.

Your Dogs Anal Glands Need Expressing

The final issue that is extremely common for foul smells from your pup is not for those with a particular sensitivity to gross fluids.

If you notice a fishy odor circling your home, then it is likely to be the dog’s anal glands. 

The anal glands are two small sacs that can be the size of a grape in larger dogs. They create a yellow watery fluid, which can build up over time and create an extreme amount of pressure. 

And if these aren’t expressed regularly, they can release on their own, causing a foul smell on your dog and in areas of the house. They are usually released naturally in times of fear to scare away predators.

However, in some situations, a pet can develop an anal sac disease. This is a very smelly condition that’s usually due to inflammation of the ducts within the glands and makes it very difficult for your dog to release its feces. The sacs also become swollen and red.

If you notice your pooch has a particular obsession with its rear end, and they are showing extreme signs of discomfort and pain when they go to the toilet, it might be time to get them expressed before they do it in your home.

Veterinary attention will also undercover any underlying health conditions, and they will perform the correct procedure to remove anal gland issues and that sour smell that comes with it.

Steps to Fix Your Canines Bad Odor

  1. When you determine that the source of the sour smell is your pet, you want to bathe it. Ensure that you use dog-specific shampoo and warm water. After gently covering your pooch in water, shampoo it twice, and wash this off completely. Then, to keep its coat silky smooth, use a dog-orientated conditioner. Dry your dog fully after cleaning.
  2. If this doesn’t remove the smell, then it’s time to put on the rubber gloves. Start by inspecting the dog’s mouth and ears, and look for those signs of ear infections and dental diseases. Check the skin and the anal glands. If any of these show signs of swelling and discomfort, seek a medical professional.
  3. If the previous path was a dead-end, it’s time to start watching your dog when they eat or go to the toilet. If they show any difficulty or discomfort, there could be a health condition that needs attention.
  4. Seek medical attention. If your vet has deemed your dog healthy, then try to clean your pooch regularly, making sure to brush its teeth and express its anal glands. 
  5. Finally, do not use human perfume on your dog. This can result in painful skin infections that do more harm than good. If your canine is particularly susceptible to foul smells, invest in a healthy dog scent.


There we have it.

The 5 most common reasons your dog may smell sour and the steps we can take to determine the cause.

So, why does my dog smell sour? Most of the time, it is due to poor hygiene or them rolling in something foul and can be fixed with regular cleaning. 

In other cases, it can be a sign of an underlying health condition that requires medical attention.

Overall, though, the foul stench coming from your cute pup should be addressed as soon as possible.