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Why Is My Dog Itchy and Smelly? (Treatment including costs)

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Why Is My Dog Itchy and Smelly? (Treatment including costs)

A dog who is itchy and smelly could be suffering from various diseases which furry dads and mums may not be aware of. That is why frequent check-ups perhaps once yearly with your veterinarian can be crucial in detecting illnesses earlier. Evaluating your dog’s overall health including skin condition, ears, dental, oral, blood glucose level, etc., could help prevent secondary complications that are typically more harmful and may cost more in the long run. 

In this article, we will uncover potential diseases that could lead to itchy and smelly conditions for dogs, the probable treatment and estimated costs in Malaysia as well as prevention tips at home. 

Diseases That Cause Itch and Smell for Dogs

  1. Skin Infections 

Your dog may have a yeast or bacterial skin infection.  In fact, there are about 9 common skin diseases for dogs in Malaysia. Allergies including food intolerances, environmental allergies, and flea-allergic dermatitis are the cause of numerous skin illnesses. Trees, grass, pollen, mold spores, dust mites, cockroaches, and detergents are examples of common environmental allergies.

An infected bite, wound, or laceration is another source of skin infections. A bite, laceration, or wound left untreated might develop an infection. A pus-filled abscess may form in the affected area. The skin begins to smell bad as a result of this.

Even though parasites like fleas, lice, and mites do not produce an odor, they cause excruciating itching. The dog may lick, chew, and scratch itself until secondary skin illnesses occur.

Sebaceous glands in the skin create excessive amounts of sebum as a result of the skin ailment seborrhea. Seborrheic dogs have an odd odor that could get worse if a subsequent skin illness develops. Hormonal disorders (such as Cushing's disease or underactive thyroid), poor diet, dampness, allergies, and parasites can all cause seborrhea. The Cocker Spaniel, West Highland White Terrier, and Basset Hound breeds are more frequently diagnosed with seborrhea.

Image Source: Dog with seborrhea condition

Here are a few clinical signs if your dog has seborrhea:

  • Their skin is typically scaly and itchy, and in some cases, red due to inflammation of the skin. Affected areas of the skin are usually in the back, face, flanks and in areas of skin folds such as feet, neck, lips, or armpits.
  • Excessive hair loss.
  • Bad smells due to the lesions or a secondary bacterial or fungal infection. This smell is somewhat similar to the smell of grease.
  • In certain cases, papules, crusts, and follicular boils are signs of secondary seborrhea. 
  • Thickened and dark areas of the skin caused by chronic itching from infections

General Treatments Include:

  • Omega-3 fatty acid supplements
  • Anti-seborrheic shampoos or sprays
  • Corticosteroids
  • Retinoids
  • Oral cyclosporine (Atopica®)
  • Antibiotics to treat secondary bacterial infections
  • Antifungals dog shampoo for itchy dogs (Price range of RM 15 – RM 50/bottle)

For supplements, you may refer to Oyen’s 2022 Guide: 10 Best Dog Supplements in Malaysia (recommended by vets); Complete guide: All you need to know about Pet Vitamins & Supplements

Average Cost of supplements in Malaysia: RM 50- RM 150/ month.

  1. Anal gland infection
Image source: Dog with anal gland infection

Your dog's anal glands could be to blame if you notice a foul, fishy scent. The distinct scent of their excrement is produced by these glands, which release a viscous liquid.

If your dog isn't pooping and you detect a strong, fishy stench, the glands may have unintentionally discharged. They might experience this if they suddenly become frightened, if they are full, or if one or both of their glands are infected. Other clinical symptoms include:

  • Scooting
  • Licking or biting their rear end
  • Constipation or pain when pooping/sitting

You shouldn't be concerned if the incident was an isolated one. A knowledgeable groomer can assist in this situation. To force the fluid out of the glands, groomers frequently perform external anal gland expression, which involves applying pressure to the outside of the glands. This procedure might partially drain the glands, although some fluid might still be present. Because the glands aren't cleared, issues could return quickly. In Malaysia, prices typically range from RM 50 to RM 190 depending on location. Check out Oyen’s 10 Best Cat & Dog Grooming Shops in KL & Selangor (Including Costs).

In a case where it happens consistently, it could be due to an infection or very full glands that need to be expressed. You’ll need to visit the veterinarian for help if it's an infection. Depending on where you are located, the price range is about RM 35 – RM 200 per general consultation visit. Here are a few recommended vet clinics for the year 2022 by Oyen:

2022 Guide: 11 Best Vet Clinics in KL and Selangor

2022 Guide: Best Vet Clinic in Miri, Sarawak

2022 Guide: 10 Best Vet Clinics in Penang (Including Government Vets)

2022 Guide: Best Vet Clinic in Kuching, Sarawak

2022 Guide: 10 Best Vet Clinics in Ipoh

2022 Guide: Best Vet Clinics in JB & Johor

  1. Dental disease
Image source: Halitosis in Dogs

The smell of "dog breath" is perfectly normal, but if it changes—especially if it turns into a particularly terrible smell—that is a sign of dental illness, also known as halitosis. It's time to take your dog to the vet if his breath smells awful so they can figure out what's wrong.

Depending on the breed, the causes may include aging, mouth irritation, and digestive problems. In periodontal pockets, bacteria can accumulate to create tartars, also known as calculus, which can cause persistent bleeding and even tissue necrosis. Clinical indications of tissue necrosis are frequently observed in canines with oral cancer.

To help prevent dental disease, you should brush your dog’s teeth at least two or three times per week. Veterinarian-approved dental chews can also help. Brands like Greenies and Oravet produce high-quality dental bones that can provide your dog with the satisfaction of chewing while also maintaining good oral hygiene.

It is not advisable to use store-bought bones because of the processing and preservatives used. To make sure the substances are safe for your dog, speak with your doctor if your dog prefers them. Rawhide is included in this.

If you can't find a pack of Greenies at your neighborhood pet store, you may get them here online. Prices for 6 regular-sized bones start at RM 28! Additionally, 4 sticks of Pedigree Dentastix can be purchased for just RM15.80. Consider flavorable dental chews like Holistic Dental Chews, which cost only RM2.80 per bone, if you live with a picky eater.

FREE Option: Carrots in full-sized cans make a great and nutritious chew treat for your pets. They are not only high in nutrients but also low in calories. Carrots would be the greatest substitute for the other dental chews or bones for overweight dogs that are on a diet.

  1. Parvovirus
Image Source: Parvovirus damages the guts of a dog

Even while all poop stinks, when your dog's feces are runny and especially offensive-smelling, it may be an indication of a dangerous viral infection called parvovirus. To increase your dog's chances of survival, you should take immediate action because it is highly contagious. To restore your pet's health, your veterinarian will concentrate on treating the secondary symptoms, which include dehydration, appetite loss, and vomiting. While parvovirus can infect any dog, it primarily affects puppies and young dogs under the age of six and can be avoided with immunizations. Along with the following warning signals, diarrhea lasting longer than 24 hours is always a sign you should see a veterinarian:

  • When they refuse to eat
  • Breathing heavily
  • Whimpering and whining
  • Your dog’s desire for affection changes
  • Biting, growling, or snapping
  • Excessive licking 

To find out more about vaccination, you may refer to Puppy Vaccination Guide In Malaysia (Schedule, Types, Price & more).  The average price for dog vaccinations ranges from RM50 to RM100 for each visit. To claim vaccinations, you may also consider Oyen’s Preventive Care Subscription Plan starting from RM179/year including claims for a blood test, deworming, deflea, and routine check-ups.

  1. Ear Infection
Image Source: Chronic ear infection in dogs

Dogs' ears naturally contain some germs and yeast; it's crucial to maintain a balance between the two. When the bacteria or yeast overgrows, it can cause dog ear infections. Your dog will be the unwilling host of the bacteria or yeast's wild party if moisture gets inside! This frequently occurs when your dog has just been swimming, rolling on wet grass, walking in the rain, or even having another dog lick its ears. An accumulation of bacteria or yeast smells bad and itches a lot.

Cleaning your dog’s ears is easy, but never use Q-tips on your dogs as you may accidentally stuff the bacteria deeper making it harder to eliminate. Applying medication or drops after consulting with the vet’s doctor is the right approach on this matter. Leaving it untreated will lead to a chronic type of ear infection. The average price range for such medication costs around RM 50 – RM 100, depending on which clinic you visit. 

Prevention Is Better Than Treatment


Keep up with grooming

Dogs can groom themselves, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't assist them. Do the following to keep your dog healthy and clean:

• Regularly brush your dog's coat to avoid odors and control shedding.

• Rinse your dog's feet and coat gently after letting them play outside.

• Bathe your dog when necessary (talk to your vet for recommendations).

• Whenever you spot any crust or dirt around your dog's eyes, gently wipe it away with a soft, damp cloth.

• Every few weeks, wipe the fold and flaps of dog ears with a clean, wet towel.

Feed a high-quality diet

Diet is one element that impacts how odorous your dog is. So, stay away from giving your dog poor-quality food if you want to organically improve their odor. Instead, supplement your dog's diet with additional raw meat and canine-friendly fruits and veggies. Additionally, some fresh herbs, like parsley, can help mask your dog's odor.

Wash bedding regularly

No matter where your dog snoozes, you should periodically wash its bedding to prevent odor. A filthy dog bed can gather dirt, bacteria, dust mites, skin cells, hair, environmental debris, and even parasites. Wash your dog's bedding frequently, just as you would your bed linens.

Dogs can transmit fungi like those that cause scabies into your bed, according to the Cleveland Clinic, which is another reason to wash the sheets regularly.

Don’t forget to brush your doggo’s teeth!

Regularly brushing your dog's teeth is another technique to keep him from smelling bad. In addition to preventing gingivitis and gum disease, it will also stop the accumulation of plaque and tartar. You can just use water or specific dog toothpaste to brush your dog's teeth.

The Bottom Line

If your pup is experiencing extremely bad odor and chronic scratching of their skin, it can be an unpleasant experience for everyone including friends and family members when they visit your house. The cause can range from different diseases such as skin, dental, and an infection of bacteria or viruses, depending on the age and breed of the dog. With that comes a load of price ranges to prevent or treat the problem. Thankfully, you can now claim 90% of vet bills at Oyen. Check today if your pet is eligible for protection up to RM 8,000 at Oyen! Alternatively, you may consider practicing the home prevention tips for a dog’s smelly odor and itching.