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Smell and Odor

Pug Dog Smells & Odors

Overview

There are many different reasons why a Pug dog might have a bad smell and this section is going to go over the various causes along with steps you can immediately take to resolve the problem. 

Some owners may have noticed a slight odor that worsened over time and others will see (or rather, smell) a problem that seemingly popped up overnight. There is always a reason why a particular odor is emitting from the dog and there is really no smell that is considered normal, other than the very brief noxious fumes that will surround the dog due to flatulence. 

While many people will automatically blame a bad smell on the dog's wrinkles, and we will touch on that issue, there are a slew of other possible reasons other than this. 
Odor Coming from a Pug Dog's Head or Face

There are several issues that may cause there to be a bad smell coming from a Pug's head region. It is almost always one of the following issues:

Wrinkles: We will go over this one first, since this is a common source of an odd or stinky smell that emanates from the facial area. The folds on the face are like tiny pockets that gather small pieces of debris such as food and other fine particles. This alone can be the source. However, in addition to this, if moisture becomes trapped in these skin folds without any ability to dry out, problems can arise. The damp, warm and dark environment is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria. Most common is the growth of yeast. This will produce what most often refer to as a strong musty smell. If you have both an issue of food particles and yeast, a Pug can then have an even stronger bad odor. It should be noted that with yeast, there is often also an intense itching that may cause the Pug to paw at his face or rub his face into the carpet, soft furniture, etc. 

Treatment: If you carefully and gently open a wrinkle you will be able to visibly see any food debris. If the skin look healthy and the only issue is that the crevices need to be cleaned, this should be done with a quality canine facial wipe which should be part of the daily routine you do for your Pug regardless. You will want to wipe out each fold going in one direction and changing out wipes for new ones as needed.

If you inspect the wrinkles and as you get closer you notice that the odor becomes even stronger, take care in regard to examining them. Crust and swollen skin can cause discomfort when this sensitive skin is moved. If you feel that you will be causing your Pug too much pain by even making the inspection, defer to the veterinarian. If you are able to access the deep areas of the folds signs of a yeast infection will be an increased foul smell, possible areas of crust and/or red swollen skin. The skin may also be oily, greasy or even have some oozing. 

To remove both the smell and the bacteria, you may wish to wipe out the areas thoroughly with over-the-counter medicated canine wipes that treat both fungal and bacterial infection. This is done 2 to 3 times per day. If there is no improvement after 3 days, if symptoms become worse or if the Pug is very uncomfortable, you will want to have him/her checked by the vet. In cases of severe infection, an antibiotic and/or prescription strength anti-fungal medication may be needed. 

Prevention: Use quality canine facial and fold wipes to clean out all wrinkles at least once per day and preferably three times per day. Making this a daily part of your grooming routine for your Pug can go a long way in preventing infection and keeping these terrible smells at bay. 

Mouth: One possible reason for a Pug smelling bad all of the time is an issue in the mouth. This can be tooth decay, infection or abscess. There is also always the chance that a small foreign body is stuck between the teeth. Bad smells from the mouth due to these sorts of issues can be compared to a rotting noxious odor.  

There are some medical issues that can cause a variety of odd smells; kidney disease can make the breath smell like urine and diabetes can cause a fruity smell. 

Treatment: Since a tooth infection or other sort of problem can be very painful for dogs, it will be important to have this checked out by the veterinarian. Infections left untreated can enter the bloodstream and more to other areas of the body including the brain, lungs and heart.   

If you feel that this is just a lesser matter of bad breath, offering quality dental chews that both remove plaque and freshen breath can help.   

If bad breath is an ongoing issue and/or the smell is very distinct you will want a Pug to have a complete checkup to rule out the many health conditions that have bad breath as one of the symptoms. 

Prevention: The teeth should be thoroughly cleaned with a 3-sided canine toothbrush and quality paste. This is recommended as part of daily care. One or two daily 'regular' food snacks can be replaced with healthy dental chews.

Ears: If there is a really bad smell coming from a Pug's ears, this is a clear sign of an ear infection. Other signs beside a foul odor are itching which may cause the dog to paw at the ears or rub his head against objects and/or discharge. 

Treatment: Sometimes minor infections or issues with too much wax may be resolved with a proper at-home treatment, however most cases will need to be treated at the vet's office. A full flushing will be done and prescription medication will help to clear up the issue and properly eradicate the infection. 

Allover Body Odor on a Pug

There are some cases where you either cannot pinpoint where the smell is coming from or it really does appear to be coming from the dog's entire body.  

Pug smells after going outside - This is not all that uncommon. The skin is constantly producing body oils. These work to keep both skin and coat healthy. However, over time these oils accumulate since oil does not evaporate. It is recommended to give a Pug a bath every 3 weeks since this seems to be the tipping point when too much oil is trapped beneath the thick coat and needs to be cleansed away. If a Pug goes outside and smells bad after rain or even if there is some humidity in the air, the moisture mixes with the oils in the coat and this can produce a really bad smell that some refer to as 'dog odor'.

Therefore, this most commonly occurs when a Pug is one week or less away from his scheduled bath time.
Another possible reason could be if the dog rolled in feces or other sticky matter, however since most owners are keeping a close eye on their puppy or dog, this is less likely to be the cause of a mystery smell. 

Prevention and treatment: If the smell is really bad, you can give him a bath a bit early as long as you are using quality products that will not dry out the skin or coat. Be sure to do a full body brush beforehand. If he has just recently had a bath (within the past 2 weeks), you can give the coat a good brushing. 

This will do two things: It will lift the hairs on the dense coat, allowing the moisture to air dry as you brush. In addition, the brushing will pull out dead hairs that are trapped close to the skin, which will be covered in the water/oil combination. Removing these hairs will often remove the odor.  

Pug dog smells after going to the bathroom - There are actually several different reasons for this odor problem. In regard to urinating, there can be some splashback, particularly if a male Pug pees on a tree or other object that may cause the urine to splatter back onto his genital area and/or underbelly. Female dogs can have some splashback as well, depending on their positioning when urinating. This can cause a Pug to reek of urine.  

In regard to bowel movements, there is a couple of odor causing possibilities. When a dog pushes out a stool - and especially if that feces if large and/or hard - it can cause the anal glands to secrete more scent oil than normal. The oil from anal glands is often referred to as one of the worst smells possible. It is usually quite overpowering and can just about knock you over. Additionally, if there are any feces that have become stuck to the fine hairs around the anus, this will cause a Pug to smell like poop long after he or she has gone to the bathroom.   

Prevention and treatment: If there is a urine smell due to some being on the body, both genders can be wiped with a quality canine wipe. If there is fecal matter stuck to the hairs, a small amount that is still moist can be cleaned up with a canine wipe. Take care to only wipe out and not toward the genital area. While females are more prone to the issue, both genders can develop a UTI if feces travels to the urinal opening. If the poop is dried, this can be scrubbed clean with a full or partial bath. 

If the origin of the smell is anal gland oil, the area should be inspected to look for any possible tears in the skin. If the anal sac tore open when the Pug was going to the bathroom, this broken skin will now be vulnerable to infection. It can be washed with warm water and a dab of antibiotic gel can be applied. You'll want to keep a close eye on this, however, since it can become infected. If there is any redness, swelling, signs of discomfort and/or if the tear has not healed within 3 days it should be treated by a veterinarian.  
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My pug smells bad even after a bath - A couple of things may be at play if a Pug has a bad odor even when he has just been scrubbed clean:

1) Scrubbing was not done deep enough. A Pug dog's coat is very dense, it is tightly packed and it does take some work to really reach down to the skin. When a dog smells really bad and needs a bath, it is not the outer layer of the fur that needs to be cleaned, it is the inner layers and the skin itself that need to be thoroughly washed and rinsed. 
It can be hard to properly do this if the Pug is an adult and also if you are trying to do this by hand. It is recommended to use a quality canine bath scrub brush. The bristles will reach down through the coat and also this method of cleaning a Pug works well because it also massages the skin which is super healthy for stimulating blood flow and cleaning out skin pores. As a side note, do be sure to rinse out the bubbles very well and to follow with both conditioner and a leave-in spray to protect the coat and add a nice scent. 

2) Low-grade products were used. For shampoo to actually clean away oils and wash away bad smells, it needs to have both the right amount of surfactants (the cleansing agents) and emulsifiers (this enables the water to mix with the oil to then wash it away). Cheap products will either be lacking this or will have subpar ingredients. You'll want to take care to have top-notch grooming products. 

Female Pug Smells Bad During Heat

During heat, discharge is a mixture of blood, endometrial tissue and watery body fluids. While blood does not have much of an odor, when it dries it can emit a smell that may be described as musty. Minuscule dried pieces of endometrial tissue can also start to emit a stinky smell if they have dried and become crusted on the dog. While this not usually an overpowering odor, some owners who may be sensitive to this particular odor will notice it more than others. 
You can give partial or full baths during this time. 

Also, if you place a doggie diaper on your Pug (which is highly recommended so that discharge does not accumulate on furniture, bedding, carpeting, etc.) you may want to change these more often. Depending on how heavy the flow is, a new diaper may need to be placed on every 4 to 12 hours. 

Since being in heat typically does not cause a dog to have an overpowering stink, if this does appear to be the case it may point to an issue such as a yeast infection, a UTI (urinary tract infection) or another health issue that should be diagnosed by the veterinarian. 

If a Pug Smells Really Bad All the Time

While the above listed causes for odors are most often to blame for bad odors, if a Pug has a constant smell that makes your nose wrinkle up, this may point to a skin infection. Just a small infection can cause a bad odor, so if there is a full body yeast, bacterial or fungal infection, this will not often go away with baths even if you are using good products and cleaning your Pug on a regular schedule. Signs of this include flaking and/or oily skin and itching. However, since a Pug dog has such a thick coat, owners may not be able to actually see the skin problems. 

While it is recommended to have a veterinarian diagnose this, you may want to speak with your vet about treating this at home with a quality medicated shampoo for fungus or bacterial skin infection. While the names of the ingredients may throw you off, those with Coal Tar, Salicylic Acid & Micronized Sulfur are safe for dogs short-term (2 to 3 weeks) and can also help with scaling issues. 

If a Pug's Paws Smell

The most common reason for a bad smell coming from the paws is the above mentioned yeast infection. Since a dog's paws may pick up moisture every day from the grass and other outside surfaces, it is not easy to keep them dry. The area between the toes, like the wrinkles, is damp, dark and warm which makes the feet an attractive area for yeast growth. A vet can diagnose this. The treatment is often a medicated wash, with the paws being soaped up and cleaned 3 times per week for 2 weeks.  

How to Keep a Pug Smelling Nice

There are several things that you can do to keep your Pug dog smelling fresh and clean.

1) Time the baths. Once every 3 weeks works well for most Pugs since this is the time lapse in which oils are just accumulating enough that if you wait another week, the dog will start to smell bad. 

2) Brush often. Do a good brushing at least 2 times per week and more often during the shedding season. Dead hairs fall back into the coat, fall down to the skin level and mix with body oils. This can cause a really bad musty and stinky smell. By keeping the coat free of these shedded hairs and by distributing oils with the brush, it can help keep a Pug smelling nice. 

3) Use a nice smelling leave-in spray. There are some great canine spritzes that have two benefits: they give off a fresh, clean smell and they protect the hairs from contact friction, the rays of the sun and from drying effects of arid air. Most will need to be applied every other day and be sure to not use a lot; all you need is a light spritz over the body with a quick brush down in the direction of the fur growth.

*** If you'd like to see recommendations for all quality shampoos, conditioners, nice smelling leave-in sprays, medicated shampoo for fungus, wrinkle wipes and more, look to 'Grooming' in the Pug Dog Specialty Shoppe
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