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Why Your Shih Tzu Smells So Bad: 6 Causes & How To Fix It

I know how much we love our fluffy companions. However, there’s one issue that we often come across – their smell.

We’ve received an influx of messages from Shih Tzu owners about bad odor, and so we need to address this issue with a thorough guide.

Below, I will help you understand the causes of that stinky smell and provide practical solutions to keep your Shih Tzu smelling fresh.

shih tzu smelly

Are Shih Tzus Known To Be Smelly?

While Shih Tzus can develop odor issues like any other dog, they are not inherently smelly dogs.

However, due to their unique features and coat type, they may be more prone to certain issues that can lead to bad smells.

P.S If your Shih Tzu’s face smells bad, check out that article <<

Let’s run through the list of reasons why Shih Tzus can become smelly.

1. Skin Infections

Skin infections are one of the most common reasons your Shih Tzu might smell bad. These infections can be caused by a variety of factors, such as:

  • Bacteria: Bacterial infections like pyoderma can cause a foul smell. Pyoderma is common in Shih Tzus due to their thick double coat, which can trap bacteria and moisture.
  • Fungus: Fungal infections, like yeast infections, can also cause an unpleasant odor. Shih Tzus are prone to yeast infections because of their skin folds and floppy ears.

➡️ To combat these infections, try the following solutions:

  • Keep your Shih Tzu clean and dry: Bathe your Shih Tzu at the right frequency with a gentle, hypoallergenic dog shampoo. Make sure to dry their coat thoroughly, especially in the folds and crevices.
  • Visit your veterinarian: If you suspect an infection, consult your vet for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan. They may prescribe medicated shampoos, ointments, or oral medications to treat the infection.

For more information on skin infections in dogs, check out this article from PetMD.

2. Ear Infections

Ear infections can be another source of your Shih Tzu’s bad smell. Due to their floppy ears, Shih Tzus are more susceptible to ear infections than breeds with upright ears. The warm and moist environment created by their floppy ears can foster the growth of bacteria and yeast, leading to infection and odor.

➡️ To prevent and treat ear infections, consider these steps:

  • Clean their ears regularly: Use a dog-specific ear cleaning solution and cotton balls to gently clean your Shih Tzu’s ears. Make sure not to insert anything into the ear canal.
  • Keep their ears dry: After bathing or swimming, make sure to dry your dog’s ears thoroughly to prevent moisture buildup.
  • Consult your veterinarian: If you notice signs of an ear infection, such as redness, discharge, or a foul smell, consult your veterinarian for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.

For more information on ear infections in dogs, check out this helpful article from VCA Hospitals.

3. Dental Problems

Bad breath, also known as halitosis, is a common issue in Shih Tzus. This breed is particularly prone to dental problems because of their small mouths and crowded teeth.

Dental issues like plaque, tartar, and gum disease can contribute to a foul smell emanating from your dog’s mouth.

➡️ To tackle dental issues, try these solutions:

  • Brush their teeth regularly: Use a dog-specific toothbrush and toothpaste to clean your Shih Tzu’s teeth at least a few times a week.
  • Provide dental chews and toys: These can help remove plaque and tartar buildup, improving your dog’s breath.
  • Schedule regular dental checkups: Regular visits to your veterinarian for dental cleanings and exams can help maintain your Shih Tzu’s oral health and keep bad breath at bay.

For more information on dental care for dogs, take a look at this comprehensive guide from the American Kennel Club (AKC).

4. Anal Gland Issues

Shih Tzus, like other dog breeds, have anal glands that can sometimes become problematic. These glands, located on either side of the anus, produce a smelly substance used for scent marking. If these glands become impacted or infected, they can emit a strong, fishy odor.

➡️ To address anal gland issues, consider the following:

  • Monitor for signs of discomfort: If your Shih Tzu is scooting their bottom on the ground, licking their rear end excessively, or showing signs of discomfort, it could indicate an anal gland issue.
  • Visit your veterinarian: Your vet can express your dog’s anal glands and check for signs of infection. If necessary, they can also prescribe medications or recommend dietary changes to prevent future problems.
  • Maintain a healthy diet: A diet high in fiber can help your Shih Tzu have regular bowel movements, which can aid in naturally expressing the anal glands.

For more information on anal gland issues in dogs, check out this informative article from PetMD.

5. Diet and Flatulence

Your Shih Tzu’s diet can have a significant impact on their smell. Certain foods can cause flatulence, making your dog more prone to passing gas with a strong odor. Additionally, a low-quality diet can affect your dog’s overall health, leading to a variety of issues that may contribute to their bad smell.

➡️ To address diet-related odor issues, try these tips:

  • Feed a high-quality diet: Choose a well-balanced, high-quality dog food that meets your Shih Tzu’s nutritional needs.
  • Avoid gas-inducing foods: Foods like beans, dairy products, and certain vegetables can cause flatulence in dogs. Limit or eliminate these foods from your dog’s diet to reduce gas.
  • Monitor for food allergies: Some dogs have food allergies or intolerances that can cause digestive upset and gas. If you suspect your Shih Tzu has a food allergy, consult your veterinarian for guidance on an elimination diet to identify the culprit.

For more information on choosing the right food for your Shih Tzu, take a look at this article from the AKC.

6. Rolling in Stinky Stuff

Lastly, your Shih Tzu might smell bad simply because they’ve rolled in something stinky. Dogs have a natural instinct to roll in smelly substances, such as feces or dead animals, as a way of “masking” their scent.

➡️ To keep your Shih Tzu smelling fresh, follow these tips:

  • Supervise outdoor play: Keep a close eye on your Shih Tzu during outdoor activities to prevent them from rolling in stinky substances.
  • Clean them up promptly: If your dog does manage to roll in something smelly, clean them up as soon as possible using dog wipes or a gentle shampoo.
  • Use positive reinforcement: Encourage your Shih Tzu to avoid rolling in stinky stuff by rewarding them with praise and treats for staying clean during outdoor play.

Related: The Ideal Brushes & Brushing Routine for Shih Tzus

Closing thoughts

In conclusion, there are various reasons why your Shih Tzu might smell bad, ranging from skin and ear infections to dental issues and diet.

By following the solutions provided in this guide, you can address the underlying causes of your dog’s odor and keep them smelling fresh and clean.

Remember to consult your veterinarian if you suspect an infection or if your dog’s smell does not improve with regular grooming and care. With a bit of effort and attention, you can ensure your Shih Tzu stays happy, healthy, and smelling great.

For additional resources on Shih Tzu care, check out these reputable websites:

As a fellow Shih Tzu owner, I hope this guide helps you better understand the causes of your dog’s bad smell and provides you with practical solutions to keep them smelling their best. Good luck, and happy grooming!

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Before making any decisions that could affect the health and/or safety of your dog, you should always consult a trained veterinarian in your local area. Even though this content may have been written/reviewed by a trained veterinarian, our advice to you is to always consult your own local veterinarian in person. Please read our full dislcaimer if you have any questions.