My Bulldog Smells Like Fish, What Should I Do?

As with any dog, Bulldogs emit various scents. By why on Earth do they have a fishy odor on some occasions? bum sac impaction, infections, poor grooming, and even kidney problems are the most common culprits whenever a Bulldog smells like fish. Most of these are preventable and easy to treat.

If your Bulldog suddenly smells like carp from a stinky river, the following might be the reasons why.

1. bum gland problems

Bulldog smells like fish

The most common cause of fishy smell in dogs is impacted bum glands. This occurs if the accumulated fluids on the sacs aren’t emptied properly. As the fluids dry, they will become impacted and quite foul-smelling.

Your Bulldog has a higher risk of having impacted bum glands if it always has a very soft stool. The stool isn’t firm enough to express the fluids trapped on the glands.

Remember that impacted bum glands can develop infections if not addressed right away. Abscesses will form, which will cause a strong fishy odor. Aside from that, your dog will suffer from inflammation and pain in the affected area.

On a more serious note, Bulldogs with a fishy odor might be suffering from dog bum sac tumors. The tumors will limit or prevent the natural expression of the dog bottom glands.

When this happens, dirt will accumulate, which will emit a bad smell. But beyond the odor, the biggest concern here is that dog bum sac tumors can be cancerous.

2. Dental issues

If your dog’s bum glands are expressed regularly, the next thing you should rule out is dental issues.

Rotten teeth, plaque formation, gingivitis, and other similar conditions can all emit a fishy smell. These problems occur because you fail to observe proper dental hygiene on your Bulldog.

Canine dental problems never go away on their own. It will just get worse the longer you put off the treatment.

Proper brushing is crucial to prevent fishy breathe on your dog. You should also use toothpaste formulated for dogs. Water additives and regular teeth cleaning are also advisable.

3. Skin disease

Bulldog smells like fish

Another potential condition you should look into is a skin disease. Skin mites, ticks, and fleas can all wreak havoc on your Bulldog’s skin, which will lead to a smelly infection.

Blood-sucking parasites will create tiny wounds on your Bulldog’s skin. This gives pathogens an entryway. As your dog scratches and licks the area, the infection and smell will get worse.

Also, Bulldogs have lots of wrinkles that can hide the parasites. It can also trap dirt and allergens that can trigger a slew of skin irritations. The folds can also accumulate yeast, which is notorious for its unpleasant odor.

If not addressed right away, canine skin diseases will make your dog smelly. It’s very important to check your Bulldog’s skin daily to spot sudden changes that may point to infections.

4. Ear infection

A dog’s ears can harbor the nastiest dirt you can imagine. Try sniffing your Bulldogs ear flaps and see if it’s the main source of the fishy odor.

Ear infections occur when you fail to clean your dog’s ears regularly. The dirt, moisture, and bacteria accumulate inside, which brews a nasty smell.

Most ear infections are easy to treat and can be cleared with home medication. You should talk to your Bulldog’s vet to know about the right ear cleanser to use.

5. Kidney problems

Kidney problems are one of the dreaded conditions among dogs. It’s also one of the reasons why your Bulldog’s breath may smell fishy.

Your Bulldog may suffer from kidney failure when it experiences severe dehydration, heatstroke, and bacterial infections. Also, excessive consumption of protein can put compromised dogs at risk of developing kidney disease.

Aside from fishy breath, your Bulldog’s urine will also have a strong odor. You’ll also notice the following symptoms:

  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Bloody traces in urine
  • Poor appetite
  • Diarrhea and vomiting
  • Changes in urination frequency and amount
  • Increased or decreased thirst
  • Mouth ulcers

6. Canine vaginitis

If you have a female Bulldog, one thing you should check is its genitals. Female Bulldogs are susceptible to canine vaginitis, a condition that causes the inflammation of the genitalia.

Aside from the inflammation, the affected dog will also have smelly genitalia discharge. The following are some of the most common causes of vaginitis among Bulldogs:

  • Foreign matter
  • Urinary tract infections
  • genetalia tumors
  • Fecal contamination of the genetalia
  • Abnormally situated ureter
  • Sexual immaturity

Most mild vaginitis in dogs will resolve on its own without treatment. However, if the fishy smell coming off your Bulldog’s privates is getting intense, it’s best to seek veterinary care right away.

What to do if your Bulldog smells like fish

As a long-time dog owner, I’ve dealt with countless odors emanating from my dog. The fishy smell is, by far, the most common occurrence. To prevent it, I always practice the following:

✔️Visit the vet

Routine vet checks are very important, whether your Bulldog has a fishy smell or not. Some causes of fishy smell like kidney disease and vaginitis could be prevented if you just bring your dog to the vet early.

Also, never hesitate to call the vet to ask for medical advice. Proper diagnosis is also important, so your Bulldog will receive the treatment it needs.

✔️Empty the glands

Expressing my Bulldog’s bum glands is my least favorite grooming task, and I think that most pet owners will agree. It’s gross, smelly, and messy. Still, someone has to do it.

The process of expressing the bum glands is quite simple. You just have to squeeze the two small pouches located on each side of the dog’s bum.

Remember to wear gloves and a mask because the oozing dirt can be gross beyond imagination. 

✔️Observe proper grooming

Proper grooming is one of the best ways to reduce the awful smell that comes from your Bulldog’s body.

First, make it a habit to brush your dog’s coat. This will give you the chance to check for skin changes or spot infections in its infancy.

Aside from that, you should also bathe your Bulldog properly. Always pull the skin folds taut so that you can wash the trapped dirt. You should also use a dog shampoo that matches your dog’s skin.

Ear cleaning is also necessary to prevent the formation of bad odor. Always use a dog ear cleanser to drain the dirt off your pet’s lughole.

And if your Bulldog got soaked on a lake, river, or other bodies of water, make sure that they are bone-dry afterward. This will prevent excess moisture from harboring smelly bacteria on the dog’s ears, skin folds, and other parts of the body.

✔️Switch to a healthier diet

A healthy diet is also important in keeping your dog healthy. It will also reduce the likelihood of a fishy smell since it promotes well-formed stool. A nicely firm stool will help express the bum glands naturally to prevent the accumulation of smelly dirt.

Aside from that, a complete and balanced diet will keep your dog’s skin more resistant to infections. While dog food is far from a cure, it will boost your Bulldog’s immunity against illnesses that could cause a fishy odor.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How do you tell if your dog needs his bum glands expressed?

A: If your Bulldog is licking its bottom frequently, it might be a sign that it’s time to express its bum glands. A strong fishy odor and brownish traces on the spot where your dog sits are also tell-tale signs of bum glands due for a cleaning.

Q: Do Bulldogs smell fishy when they are stressed?

A: When a dog becomes extremely stressed, its sphincter muscles contract. This is the same movement as when your dog is defecating or expressing its bum glands. With that, a strong odor of rotting fish will emanate from its body.

Q: Why does my Bulldog’s fart smell like rotten fish?

A: A dog fart that smells like rotten fish might be due to what your dog recently ate. Also, it might mean that your pet is due for bum gland cleaning. However, if the smell lingers, it’s best to get your dog checked at the vet’s clinic.

Q: Why does my Bulldog smell like fish even after a bath?

A: If your Bulldog smells like fish even after a bath, you should check for potential skin infections. Also, you probably forgot to express its bum glands. The worst possible scenario is that your dog has kidney problems that require immediate veterinary care.

Q: Does being in heat make dogs smelly?

A: During a heat cycle, a female dog releases a unique scent to attract males. There’s also a chance that the female Bulldog in heat can develop a mild fishy odor. However, this scent should clear up as the heat cycle ends.

Final words

If your Bulldog smells like fish, you should rule out several health problems first. Acting fast will spare your dog from further infections, discomfort, and even life-threatening conditions.

Most of the time, the fishy smell is easy to deal with. You just have to observe proper grooming and take your dog to the vet regularly. This way, the veterinarian can spot health issues before it becomes a stinky problem.


  • Brad

    Hi I'm Brad, the founder of Having been a vet of 6 years I work alongside our team to provide valuable insight into your dog's health. I have a frenchie myself named Senzu who is my pride and joy!