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 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 Why 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 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 an 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. 

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 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.   

pug smells like fish
Pug smells like fish


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.