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Why Does My Dog Smell Like Burnt Hair? Reasons, Suggestions & FAQ

Written by: Elizabeth Gray

Last Updated on May 13, 2024 by Dogster Team

male dog owner covering his nose because his dog smells bad

Why Does My Dog Smell Like Burnt Hair? Reasons, Suggestions & FAQ

We love our dogs, but sometimes they don’t smell the freshest. Doggy odor is one thing, but what if your dog takes on a more specific scent, such as burnt hair? Is this normal, or should you be worried? Dogs may smell like burnt hair for several reasons, including an actual burn. We’ll cover some potential causes for the strange scent in this article and let you know what to do if your dog develops the odor.


Is Your Dog Burned or Do They Just Smell Like It?

One simple reason that your dog smells like burnt hair could be because they have, in fact, suffered a burn. Dogs can suffer accidental burns from heating devices such as warming pads or lamps. It is a pervasive problem for dogs who’ve just had surgery.

Some of the tools used to keep their body temperature normal while under anesthesia can burn your dog’s skin or hair. Bonfires, grills, or portable fire pits can also burn your dog if they get too close. Burns are painful and usually easily visible. They require swift medical attention and can be tough to treat effectively.

Other Possible Reasons Your Dog Smells Like Burnt Hair

smelly dog
Image By: UfaBizPhoto, Shutterstock

Skunk Spray

The smell of skunk spray is sometimes described as similar to burnt hair. If your curious dog finds a skunk, the results can be quite offensive. Skunks don’t just live in rural areas but can be found in cities and suburbs, especially around dawn or dusk.

Skunk spray is so smelly that it can make your dog vomit, and the sulfur-rich chemical can also damage your dog’s eyes if it hits them directly. Rarely, ingested skunk spray can cause anemia or low red blood cells.

Anal Glands

The fluid expressed from a dog’s anal glands typically has a “fishy” smell. However, the scent can vary, especially if your dog suffers from an anal gland infection. Full or infected anal glands could be the culprit if your dog smells like burnt hair. If you spot your dog scooting their bottom on the ground or chewing and licking underneath their tail, an impacted gland may be to blame.

Dental Disease

Dirty teeth and unhealthy gums are frequent problems for dogs, especially small breeds. Dental disease can also be the source of unpleasant odors from your dog. If your dog smells like burnt hair, check their teeth to be sure they aren’t the problem.

teeth of a pug dog getting checked by a vet
Image By: Ermolaev Alexander, Shutterstock

Bad Skin or Ears

Skin and ear infections are often the reason dogs smell bad. Depending on the cause of the infection, your dog may smell yeasty like bread or give off another odor, potentially that of burnt hair.

What to Do if Your Dog Smells Like Burnt Hair

If your dog smells like burnt hair, check carefully for any signs of a burn, such as damaged skin or scorched fur. As we mentioned, burns require veterinary care as soon as possible. If you don’t spot any visible burns, look for signs of other medical problems, such as your dog scratching their ears, scooting their bottom on the floor, or having trouble eating.

To find out what’s officially causing your dog to smell like burnt hair, make an appointment with your veterinarian, especially if you notice any of these other signs we mentioned.



As you can see, there are several reasons your dog may smell like burnt hair. While this may not be the most common scent you’ll detect from your dog, it could indicate one of several health problems that need treatment. Anytime you notice a change in your dog, even if it’s just a new bad odor, contact your veterinarian for an appointment.

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Featured Image Credit: san4ezz, Shutterstock

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