Why Does My Senior Dog Smell So Bad?

senior dogs

Why Does My Senior Dog Smell So Bad?

If you own a senior dog, you might experience that he does not smell all that rosy anymore. While you used to enjoy cuddling with your dog, now his odor is making this experience less fun.

Today we will explore what the possible causes are, how they lead to the changed scent of older dogs – and most of all, how you can turn this around!

Table of Contents

Medical Reasons For Senior Dog Smells

Unfortunately, with old age comes a host of medical conditions. Catching them early and treating them effectively is the key to guaranteeing a long and healthy life for your dog!

Kidney Disease

Kidney disease is one of the primary conditions that affects senior dogs. It can result in incontinence and a changed body odor. You should have your older dog seen by a veterinarian at least once a year to catch kidney disease early and treat it effectively.

Specific bladder supplements for senior dogs can be a supporting therapy.

If your dog’s kidneys are well-managed, his scent will already get better.

senior dog

Dental Disease

The older your dog gets, the faster plaque and tartar will build up. They can lead to periodontal disease and tooth decay. As we know from humans – poor dental hygiene causes very poor-smelling breath! You should put your dog onto a dental care regime. This could either be brushing his teeth daily or giving him a dental chew such as Greenies.

If your old dog has been eating less, taking care of his teeth will also help him gain weight again!

Digestive Issues

As dogs age, their digestion tract becomes more sensitive. In the best case, this results in flatulence – in worse cases, diarrhea and vomiting. Maybe your old dog is eating less or refusing his food, too.

You should feed a specifically formulated food for senior dogs and also check with your veterinarian if there is anything you can do to help his digestive tract do better.

senior dog

Other Factors Causing Body Odor In Senior Dogs

Apart from medical conditions, there is a range of other factors that can cause senior dogs to smell bad. Many of these can be easily remedied!

Coat Condition

Many older dogs become apprehensive towards being brushed. Their coat type can change and become more coarse and “brushy”, and they do not tolerate grooming well. This can quickly lead to mats and tangles, especially in Poodles and Doodles. You should absolutely keep your senior dog’s coat short and free of any knots. Groomers recommend “old dog haircuts”, meaning that the hair is kept clipped short.

Having mats does not only lead to poor hygiene and bad smells, but is also highly uncomfortable or painful for your senior dog.

Behavioral Changes

As dogs age, they can experience cognitive decline just like humans. Old dogs might be restless and pacing a lot and become confused.

Sometimes this confusion results in them laying down and sleeping in unsanitary places, such as even their own feces. If your aging pup seems to suffer from doggy dementia, make sure that he has plenty of soft and clean resting places. 

Supervise him when he goes potty and clean up any poop right away, so that he does not accidentally lie down in it.

Old dogs also often are unable to jump up on the couch or bed anymore. Invest in a ramp for your senior pup so he can walk up and sleep comfortably again!

How Do I Stop My Old Dog Smelling?

The first step to stop your dog’s poor smell is to get to the root of what is causing it.

You should take your dog to see his veterinarian. The vet will be able to diagnose any underlying physical condition that could cause the smell, such as:

  • Kidney problems and incontinence
  • Bowel and stomach issues
  • Dental problems – even a simple teeth cleaning, daily brushing and dental chews can go a long way towards improving your dog’s smell!

If your vet rules out any physical reasons for your dog’s scent, the next step is to look at his grooming and sleeping habits. Is his coat clean and free of knots and tangles? Does he have clean bedding to sleep on, and do you pick up all poop right away?

senior irish setter

The Bottom Line

There are different reasons for your older dog’s poor smell. The good news is that with just a couple hours of effort and small changes in daily habits you can vastly improve his scent and make cuddling fun again! Your old dog deserves to smell his best – and you deserve to have him by your side, healthy, happy and well-smelling, for many more years!