Why Does My Older Dog Smell So Bad? (What Can I Do?)

If you’ve been around senior dogs, one of the questions you’ve likely asked is, “Why does my older dog smell so bad?”

A bad smell can really get on your nerves and feel like it follows you around, but it could be your senior dog, and it’s not their fault. Senior dogs run into a whole bunch of obstacles in later life that can affect their smell.

Why Does My Older Dog Smell So Bad? (What Can I Do?)

Dogs rarely smell great, but you may notice that your dog is smelling a little worse than usual, which may even be bothering them.

Sorry if I stink, I don’t even realize most of the time, but it’s not my fault – promise!

In today’s article we are going to address the issues that might be causing your senior dog to smell worse than usual.

Keep reading to understand why and also what you can do to make everyone’s life a little better and easier.

Why Does My Older Dog Smell So Bad?

Why Does My Older Dog Smell So Bad? (What Can I Do?)​

As we mentioned, senior life isn’t all glamor for dogs, and they can be affected by a myriad of factors that might cause them to smell a little worse. 

Some are simply symptoms of seniority, while others could be cause for concern in specific situations.

Joint Issues

Joint issues, and in the worst cases, arthritis, can cause your dog to not be able to groom themselves properly anymore.

Dogs aren’t as good at self cleaning and grooming as cats are, who can clean themselves pretty well, but a dog can stop themselves from smelling bad by grooming themselves the small amount they do.

Now I’m older and my body doesn’t work the way it used to, I just can’t reach those areas I need to clean anymore, without being in some pain.

This means I might need you, or a professional, to do my grooming for me.

Dental Issues

dental care in senior dogs

“Why does my older dog smell so bad?” Dental issues could be the culprit.

Seniority brings dental issues to all beings, humans included, but senior dogs are very susceptible to dental issues.

Senior dogs will likely get dental or periodontal disease in their older life. You can prevent this earlier in their lifespan by brushing their teeth when you can.

A dog’s salivary gland can kill bacteria in some situations, but this doesn’t really get rid of the smell.

I was never taught to brush my teeth, nor could I if I tried.

So, my teeth aren’t in the best condition after 10+ of chomping down meat and whatever else I can find.

Urinary Incontinence

This is another one that occurs in quite a few mammals, urinary incontinence. Put simply, this is the result of not being able to control your bladder as you get older.

In certain circumstances, like sneezing or releasing gas, urine can leak out, for both humans and dogs.

When this occurs in dogs, which is common, this can often settle in their fur and not get cleaned, simply another reason to get your senior dog groomed regularly.

Sometimes I get excited, I can’t help it!

Impacted Anal Glands

Anal gland issues are another factor to consider when asking “Why does my older dog smell so bad?” as changes in the anal glands can result in a strong odor and discomfort for your pet.

Sometimes it might not be the dog who smells, but they might just be leaving bad smells in their wake.

Dogs use their anal glands to mark territory, there are similar functions in cats, but as your dog gets into senior age their anal glands become impacted.

This can be related to your dog’s dietary and gastrointestinal issues.

If they have a particularly sensitive stomach then their anal glands will be impacted and when they use this gland it causes a bad smell.

In normal cases the use of this gland shouldn’t cause a bad smell.


Flatulence, or farting in other words, might be why you think your dog smells.

In seniority a dog’s digestive system can become weaker and dietary changes and other stomach issues can be exasperated.

As a result a sensitive digestive system equals some room clearing gas.

I just wanted to let you know I was here!

Kidney Disease

If it’s your dog’s breath that stinks, and you are certain it isn’t a dental issue, it’s likely caused by kidney failure.

This is common in senior dogs and when the kidney function is compromised toxins can leak into your dog’s bloodstream.

This often builds up and is released through their breath unfortunately, causing a smell.


If your dog suffers from diabetes this can cause a strange smell from their breath. It can ironically smell quite sweet and sugary, or even like nail polish remover.

If your dog has a strange smell coming from their breath like this, it is likely the result of high blood sugars.


Certain allergies that lead to dermatitis can affect your dogs skin and your dog could catch a skin infection pretty easily.

A skin infection can smell, as can any other infection your dog has such as an ear infection or urinary tract infection.

What You Can Do To Help

Why Does My Older Dog Smell So Bad? (What Can I Do?)​

I need your help to stop these bad odors, there’s not much I can do myself.

Dental Care

If your dog’s breath stinks, you can train them to let you brush their teeth.

Obviously if you can brush their teeth from early age into seniority it can help eradicate any dental issues that could cause foul breath.

Professional Grooming

Getting your dog groomed professionally from an early age means that they will get used to it and actually enjoy it after a while.

When your dog reaches seniority you, and your dog, will appreciate this as it will reduce the causes of foul odors greatly.

Moreover, a groomer who is used to grooming your dog can help you catch potential issues like tumors or joint issues, even ear infections, as they occur so that you can deal with them effectively.


A senior dog can have a much more sensitive stomach than when they were younger, so if your dog’s farts have become lethal, it can be a good idea to try them on some more sensitive food.

There are dog kibble and wet food out there that is made to be sensitive to stomachs.

Medical Assessment And Treatment

Put simply, foul odors can be caused by the medical issues we described. In order to get rid of these there is a more complex issue of identifying a medical issue and then treating it.

If an odor is caused by a specific medical condition, treating it is the easiest solution.


  • As dogs get old, they struggle to groom themselves due to joint issues
  • Professional grooming from an early age can help reduce odors
  • Implementing dental care from an early age with training can help with bad breath
  • Some foul odors can be caused by geriatric medical issues, and may require treatment to be resolved
  • Older dogs have more sensitive stomachs and dietary adjustments with food that is sensitive for their stomach can reduce pungent flatulence
  • Practicing good hygiene from early ages prevent bad odors in later life

Final Thoughts

From dental issues to skin conditions and metabolic changes, various factors can contribute to foul smells in senior pups. 

So the next time you wonder, “Why does my older dog smell so bad?” remember that proactive care and attention to their well-being are key to maintaining their comfort and happiness.

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