Q: My dog who is a golden retriever has been scratching for almost 10 days now, when she scratches a body odor comes with it. We washed her and she has no fleas ticks or anything like that. What can it be? She eats well, sleeps well and even plays, but the scratching is really crazy, and I feel bad for her and the body odor is really bad, what is it and what can I do. She is 9 years old and in good health. Please help. I am going crazy with the smell.
A: Golden Retrievers are wonderful dogs, but can often emit a bad odor. Dog odor is most often caused by bacteria or yeast metabolizing secretions, especially skin oils. Places where the skin tends to be moist and dark (mouth, ears, skin folds, and under the tail) have the highest concentration of yeast and bacteria and the strongest smell. Yeast and bacteria are present on the skin of all pets, even healthy pets, but are kept to a minimum when skin is in good condition. However, when the skin is less healthy, the population of yeast and bacteria can swell. As the numbers increase, so does the smell. Yeast and bacteria cause itching. Dogs scratch and this increases blood flow to the area. Increased blood flow produces inflammation, swelling, and heat so the smell can become even more offensive.
Here are some possible reasons for your dog’s unpleasant smell:
Golden Retrievers can often be prone to ear infections. You can usually recognize an ear infection by seeing redness, debris and an odor in the ear. Quite often one ear will look much worse than the other. Yeast, bacteria or a combination of the two can cause ear infections. A yeast infection is usually accompanied by a bad smell. These types of infections almost always need to be treated with medication. Chronic ear infections can also be a sign of an underlying condition such as allergies or hypothyroidism.
It’s really common for Golden Retrievers to get a bacterial skin infection called a pyoderma. We tend to see this more in dogs that enjoy swimming or have underlying allergies. Lesions and pustules (inflamed pus-filled swelling) on the skin, and in some cases partial hair loss, often point to infection. Most skin infections, depending on the severity of the infection, need to be treated with 2-6 weeks of oral antibiotics.
Yeast infections in dogs are usually very itchy. The most common areas for these infections are in the armpits and the groin region. The skin will look greasy, thickened (almost like elephant skin) and often the pigment or color will be darker. Usually a yeast infection will need to be treated with oral antifungal medication.
Some dogs have a very large skin fold on either side of their vulva. This skin fold often grows bacteria. A dog with a peri-vulvar skin infection will tend to lick at her genital area. There will often be brown saliva staining around the vulva.
Finally, a dog’s anal glands, located at about 4 and 8 o’clock below the dog’s anus can emit a strong fishy smell. If you are noticing an occasional odor then this can be the source. If so, it would be advisable to have your vet express your dog’s anal glands. If the glands are smelly all of the time it may be that there is an infection present.
Hope this helps,