Dear Ask the Vets;
I love my senior dog but he seems to be getting smelly lately. What can cause this and how can I make it better?
We are so glad you are celebrating your senior pet! So many recent medical developments mean that our senior 4-legged friends are living longer lives and the saying that ”age is not a disease” has never been more true. We want to enjoy our time together even more as our pets age, but strong smells can make this difficult.
There are many issues that can make pet odour more potent as age increases and a good physical exam is recommended to ensure that there are no underlying medical conditions at play. Aging kidneys, skin, ear and anal gland infections, dental disease, and digestive upset can all contribute to unpleasant scents from our furry friends and may require medical intervention.
Dental odour is very common in our seniors. They are more likely to have increased plaque, calculus and periodontal disease as well as fractured or abscessed teeth. Bad mouth bacteria can even produce sulfur gas that can smell like rotten eggs. The ideal in these cases is to have a fully anesthetized comprehensive oral exam scale, polish and treatment which may include extraction of severely affected teeth. Short of this, preventive type care can include tooth-brushing, dental diets, dental chews, rinses and supplements.
Senior pets tend to lose their ability to digest compared to their younger counterparts. This can result in excessive gas and soft, odiferous stools and tends to prevent us from snuggling quite so closely. Many senior diets are geared towards higher digestibility and may use special fibres and prebiotics to improve stools. Some supplements can include probiotics and prebiotics, digestive enzymes and special clay to help decrease the gas and improve the end product of your pet’s digestive tract.
As pets age, their skin tends to lose moisture and become more porous to odour-producing bacteria and yeast. They may not enjoy grooming or bathing as much due to aging joints and lower stamina for standing through a bath. Newer options include waterless sprays and spot on supplements that can help restore the skin barrier and protect from unwanted infections.
As there are so many things that can produce funny smells, best to have your furry friend in for an exam to ensure no serious issues have arisen. Good luck and best wishes for some sweet-smelling snuggles with your furry family member!
Dr Kim Anderka
Dr. Christina Douthwaite