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Anal Sacs, Scooting, Skunks, and Questions About Stinky Dogs and Cats

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Bad odors in dogs and cats may indicate a health problem such as dental disease, anal sac abscess, infected ears, or a hot spot. In other cases, a bad odor may simply indicate that the pet needs a bath. Learn to smell the difference and visit your vet when needed.

1. Why does my pet scoot?

Scooting Dog - Narith5/Flickr
Narith5/Flickr

Both dogs and cats have anal sacs that may become impacted or infected if not emptying properly. This causes itching, scooting, bad odors, and sometimes pain, too. Severe cases may abscess and rupture. Learn the signs of anal sac problems and how to keep your pet comfortable and scoot-free.

2. Help: My Stinky Dog

Stinky Dog - Normanack/Flickr
Normanack/Flickr

Smelly pet questions are common. A typical email goes something like this:

My dog has had a terrible odor for weeks. We have tried 4 different shampoos, and none of them have helped! Please let me know what the smell is from, and what would be a good shampoo to get rid of it.

Here are some thoughts to consider.

3. Sprayed by a Skunk

Why is this skunk raising its tail? (Hint: watch out!) by kreyton on Flickr
by kreyton on Flickr

Skunks normally mind their own business, but sometimes they are provoked to spray by an unsuspecting curious pet. The questions of what they spray, why they spray, and how do you get rid of the odor are answered here.

Also, is the spray toxic? Find out what you need to do for post-skunk first aid for your pets to be safe.

4. Frito Feet: Why Do Dog Paws Smell Like Corn Chips?

Dog Paws - rachellynnae/Flickr
rachellynnae/Flickr

Questions about pet odors are common. Often a bad smell indicates a problem or disease process, but not always. What should you do if you notice that your dog's feet have a odor, often described as smelling like corn chips or old popcorn? Is this something to worry about? Read this FAQ to find out more about "Frito Feet."

5. Stinky Eyes: What causes a bad odor around eyes?

Sadie the Shih Tzu - SadieShihTzu/Flickr
SadieShihTzu/Flickr

A viewer asks: "My Shih Tzu has an bad odor around his eyes. What causes that?"

This is a common problem and one that needs daily attention to help keep odors and skin inflammation under control.

6. Smelly Leaking Puppy

Puppy tail by billum/Flickr
by billum/Flickr

A viewer asks: "My puppy is about 7 months old and today she came in with a leakage from her anus that is a light brown color and smells like oil, should I be concerned?"

7. Bad Breath

Open Wide © polandeze on Flickr
© polandeze on Flickr

Getting your pet used to having their mouth examined and teeth brushed is a good start to healthy teeth and gums. As pets age, dental tartar, gum disease and bad breath often appear. This affects not only the mouth, but the heart, liver and kidneys as well. Here are some dental health resources to keep your pet healthy.

8. Ear Infections

Image (taken through microscope) of ear mites sampled from a cat's ear. Credit: Wikimedia Commons /
Credit: Wikimedia Commons / Caroldermoid

Ear infections (also known as otitis externa) are characterized by itchy ears, redness, local swelling, often a discharge with very bad odor. The nature of the odor and discharge depends on what the causative agent is.

9. Hot Spots

Hot Spot on the neck an English Bulldog - Uwe Gille/Wikimedia
Uwe Gille/Wikimedia

A hot spot is a localized area of skin inflammation and infection. The infection can be superficial or deep. These common skin lesions are usually caused (and made worse) by biting, licking, or scratching. The important thing for successful long term treatment of a hot spot is to find the underlying cause to break the cycle of continued skin trauma and resulting inflammation.

10. Good Grooming: A Matter of Life and Health

Sheltie with a brush © Brief Gasp on Flickr
Brief Gasp on Flickr

Good grooming encompasses many aspects of pet care. Proper care of your pet's hair coat, ears, teeth and nails will enhance your pet's health and reduce the potential for costly (and often avoidable) veterinary visits.

11. Skin Disease, Hair Loss and Scratching

Scratch Scratch by Chika on Flickr
by Chika on Flickr

Itching, scratching, fleas, allergies and hair loss are among the most common questions to veterinarians. Hair loss and scratching are very common signs that represent a multitude of possible health or parasite problems. Often the scratching, chewing and licking lead to secondary problems and bad odors.

12. Readers Respond: Tell us about your stinky pet

Midge cat and computer by dougwoods on Flickr
by dougwoods on Flickr

What's your pet's stinky story? Did you find the cause, and how did you get them smelling good again?

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