Why Does My Female Dog Smell Bad?

Cuteness may earn compensation through affiliate links in this story.
Image Credit: marcoventuriniautieri/E+/GettyImages

Certain aromas make your home more inviting. Realtors advise sellers to bake apple pies or use scents such as vanilla, pine, or cedar to engage potential buyers. Not surprisingly, stinky dog is not on the list of enticing odors. Sometimes a good bath eliminates smelly dog odor, but the cause is often more serious.


Video of the Day

Many of the most common smelly dog issues relate to both genders, but if it's your female dog who is assaulting your nostrils, there's a chance her reproductive organs are to blame. If she's spayed, that's unlikely, but intact female dogs are prone to various uterine infections. Take any smelly dog to the vet for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Urinary tract infections

While male and female dogs may suffer from urinary tract infections, such ailments are far more common in the latter than the former. Also known as cystitis, urinary tract infections have a variety of symptoms, and the female dog may experience a smelly discharge from her vulva. Other signs of cystitis include frequent urination, incontinence, licking the privates, and blood in the urine. The urine itself may smell particularly bad, according to PetWave.


If your girl exhibits any of these symptoms, or even if it's only foul-smelling urine, take her to the vet for an examination. Some dogs don't show much in the way of clinical signs of a urinary tract infection, but without treatment, their kidneys may suffer irreversible damage. The good news is that most urinary tract infections respond to antibiotics. If the infection doesn't clear up, further diagnostic tests are in order.

Post-whelping infections

If your dog has recently given birth, she's vulnerable to developing the bacterial infection known as metritis. While this infection generally starts within a week or so after whelping, it also occurs after a miscarriage or a less than sanitary artificial insemination, according to PetMD. Metritis is more likely in dogs who went through a prolonged, difficult delivery, or who may have retained a placenta or even a puppy. E. Coli is among the bacteria that causes metritis, and in a worst-case scenario, such an infection can lead to sepsis.


One of the primary symptoms of metritis is a nasty smelling vulvar discharge. Other symptoms include fever, less milk production, abdominal swelling, dehydration, appetite loss, and puppy neglect. Take your dog to the vet, along with the puppies.

Along with testing the discharge for bacteria, the vet will perform an X-ray or ultrasound to view the uterine interior. Your dog will require hospitalization for at least a few days while she receives intravenous fluid therapy and other therapies. Based on lab results, your vet will decide on the most appropriate type of antibiotic therapy. In most cases, spaying is the preferred treatment.


While your dog recuperates, you must hand feed the puppies. You don't want the puppies exposed to the bacterial infection via the milk, or to the antibiotics the mother receives. Your vet will guide you on the best puppy milk replacer and provide you with a feeding schedule.

Pyometra, a veterinary emergency

If your dog is intact, she's vulnerable to pyometra, a potentially fatal uterine infection. As MSPCA Angell explains, pyometra means "pus uterus" in Latin, and that graphic term pretty much describes what is happening to your pet. Pyometra most often occurs in older dogs and is most likely to happen one to two months after she has experienced a heat cycle.


Besides a horrible odor, signs of pyometra include pus exuding from the vagina, lack of energy, loss of appetite, and increased thirst and urination. The dog is usually obviously unwell. Treatment is via emergency spay. However, if the uterus ruptures and pus enters the abdomen, the situation is more dangerous and the prognosis is not good.

Prevention is the best way to avoid pyometra. If you have no intention of breeding your dog, have her spayed when she is young. If she is a valuable breeding animal, spay her once she passes her prime reproductive years.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.