Pug Smells Like Fish: Discover The Unpleasant 4 Reasons Behind The Odor And How To Take Care Of It

Did you notice that your Pug smells like fish all of a sudden? There might be various reasons why this happens, which we are going to look at closely right here in the article. But this is definitely not something you want to experience, since it can be pretty obvious, “in-your-face” like. You may even spot your mutt rolling on the ground, pawing at a troubled spot that causes the fishy odor. Or, even worse, start scooting its behind on your favorite carpet to relieve the tension (sometimes a strong fish-like odor may be caused by a problem with a hound’s rear end). In any case, we need to know what the reasons for such an occurrence are. Hence, let’s dig into it without delay and find out why a Pug smells like fish. 

Pug Smells Like Fish: Reasons

1. Anal Glands Are Stuffed

Have you ever noticed that nasty rotten fish smell coming from your pal’s furry behind? That means its anal glands are full and need to be expressed. Not all canines are suffering from stuffed anal glands, just certain breeds like Pugs, Chihuahuas, Beagles, Labs, Cocker Spaniels, and a few others. Toy breeds are actually on top of the list when it comes to this issue. By the way, a dog smells like fish when scared also because of the glands: they are getting involuntary squeezed when a pooch is in big distress.   

Sometimes the glands successfully express themselves during defecation (it might require several attempts to do so, just ask my Lab mix girl Ariel). Yet, very often they need to be manually released. That’s when a pet parent comes in handy: he/she would put on a pair of rubber gloves and insert an index finger into the anal cavity, gently squeezing them for all the puss to come out (I know, sounds pretty gross). In case an owner is not a big fan of such a procedure, he/she can ask a veterinarian or a groomer to step in. Check out this video for a step-by-step plan on how to do the job right.  

2. Dental Issues

In case your pooch starts developing tartar, plaque or one of its fangs is decaying, you can spot a very distinctive “fishy” odor coming from a mutt’s mouth. What you can do is examine a pet’s oral cavity to see what kind of dental problem might be causing the nasty aroma. A bad tooth will be easy to spot, as well as gum disease and plaque. With the latter, you are going to notice a red, irritated gum line and a thick yellowish/greenish layer right over the teeth, which can be worse in certain spots. Please take your beloved pooch to a vet for further testing and instructions on what to do about this.   

3. Kidney/Liver Problems

Yeah, surprisingly enough, the fishy aroma can be also triggered by the kidney and/or liver problems. With the former, besides the “oceanic” smell, you may notice a slight ammonia odor. Sometimes when a human/pet urine has a lot of waste products, it starts exuding this type of fragrance. 

With the latter, liver dysfunction may be causing the unpleasant odor. A “moldy” fragrance may be mixed in with the fishy one. Both kidney and liver problems are very serious and should be addressed without delay. It is best to schedule an appointment with an animal health specialist to get to the bottom of the issue. 

 dog smells like fish when scared

4. Facial Folds Are Dirty

A  breed like a Pug is known to have abundant facial wrinkles which may be hard to clean. A pet parent may think that he/she is doing a good job when they don’t and all the residue, dirt, dust, as well as food particles, are trapped right at the bottom of the folds. When that happens, all the remaining gunk starts to slowly rot, causing all sorts of unpleasant odors.

One may notice that his/her Pug smells like fish all over. That may be coming from its bodily wrinkles which may not be as abundant as the muzzle ones, but are still there. A pet parent may try to bathe his/her furry friend as well as clean the skin folds well, getting all the way to the bottom. 


We have just discussed why your Pug smells like fish once in a while and looked deep into every reason behind the undesirable odor. A dog owner can take care of certain reasons himself/herself (like body odor, and anal glands) while others, more serious ones need to be addressed by a veterinary professional (for instance, oral cavity issues and kidney problems). Whatever the reason, never treat it lightly as it can lead to more canine health complications down the road.   

 Why do pugs have fishy breath?


How do I get rid of the fishy smell on my dog?

In case your pooch smells “fishy,” some of the reasons could be: either it needs its anal glands compressed or maybe there’s a tooth infection in its oral cavity.

If the former one, then you can try doing it yourself by putting on rubber gloves and inserting your finger into the animal’s rectum. You can turn to Youtube for some helpful hands-on videos teaching you how to do this right. Not the most pleasant procedure, honestly, but it is going to benefit your pooch’s wellbeing in the long run. In case you don’t feel comfortable performing the anal glands compression yourself, you can always ask your vet or a groomer for help who knows exactly how to go about it.

If a fishy smell is coming from an oral cavity, most likely it is due to the developing gingivitis caused by plaque and/or mouth ulcers. Also, a decaying tooth can give out this distinctive nasty odor as well.

To take care of this problem, you might need to bring your mutt to an animal care specialist to see what can be done (professional teeth cleaning, tooth extraction, polishing, etc.). All the dental hygiene steps can be very costly, so it is highly recommended to maintain your fur baby’s oral health by regular teeth brushing (at least 2 times a week).

Why do Pugs have fishy breath?

This happens because of dental problems developing in your dog’s mouth. It could be anything from plaque, tartar, and decaying fang to kidney and liver problems. Try to make a wrinkled friend sit still so you can examine its oral cavity and find out what the problem might be. Noticed any type of dental issue? Schedule an appointment with a local vet and follow his/her recommendations. Use preventative measures like teeth brushing, dental bones, and teeth-cleaning chew toys to keep up with a hound’s dental health.

How do you treat a smelly Pug?

In case a Pug starts to “stink,” it might be because of its abundant facial folds that trap moisture, food particles, and dirt. If not cleaned promptly, these cute wrinkles start smelling really bad, while also causing various types of infections like dermatitis, rashes, psoriasis, etc. It is crucial to go deep into the folds to get rid of all the “funky stuff” successfully collecting over time and triggering problems. Also, don’t forget about regular baths. Pugs don’t have to be bathed more than once in three months, so just try to stay consistent.

Is the stink caused by anal glands or dental problems? In the former situation, you can express your Pug’s glands yourself or drop by your vet to do so. In case it’s the latter, you can’t really do anything yourself (and don’t try, so not to hurt your poor fella even more), but a veterinarian can.

Related Reading: Why Do Pugs Smell So Bad?

stuart and his dog

Family Dog Expert Author

Hi there! I’m Stuart, a devoted dog lover and family dog expert with over a decade of experience working with our furry companions. My passion for dogs drives me to share my knowledge and expertise, helping families build strong, loving bonds with their four-legged friends. When I’m not writing for SirDoggie, you’ll find me hiking, playing with my beautiful dog, or studying music.