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Why Does My Dog’s Poop Smell So Bad? 6 Vet-Reviewed Reasons

Written by: Sarah Psaradelis

Last Updated on April 30, 2024 by Dogster Team

Labrador retriever pooping on the street

Why Does My Dog’s Poop Smell So Bad? 6 Vet-Reviewed Reasons


Dr. Nia Perkins  Photo


Dr. Nia Perkins

DVM (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Your dog’s poop can be a good indication as to whether your dog is healthy or if there is an underlying problem. A healthy dog’s poop should be firm with a light brown coloration. It should not be too watery or dry. Checking your dog’s poop is an important part of ensuring that your dog is healthy and that their digestive tract is working properly.

Dog poop itself should have a mild smell (unless you have skipped “pick up” duty and the poop has been piling up!). But in cases where the smell is potent and overpowering, it could be caused by a disruption in your dog’s digestive system, either from viruses, bacteria, or a poor diet.

Dog poop should not smell that bad, especially if your dog is healthy. If you notice that there is an abnormally foul odor coming from your dog’s poop, we’ll outline some possible reasons for this occurrence in the article below.


Why Does My Dog’s Poop Smell So Bad? 6 Reasons

1. Poor Diet

white boxer dog eating
Image Credit: Pixel-Shot, Shutterstock

A nutrition problem is the leading cause of abnormally smelly dog poop. A dog fed a healthy and balanced diet will produce healthy poop, however, if your dog’s diet is not meeting their nutritional needs or is lacking a certain nutrient, you may find that the smell of their poop becomes increasingly smellier.

A poor diet will cause your dog to produce bulky and slimy poops with a soft consistency. This problem can be eliminated with the help of a veterinarian who will guide you to the right types of food for your breed of dog.

2. Malabsorption problems

If your dog’s poop is particularly foul-smelling (with a smell similar to sour milk or rotten food) then their bodies may be struggling to absorb the nutrients from their food properly. This usually takes place in the pancreas or small intestine and often the dogs in these cases appear to be skinny and malnourished.

You may notice that your dog has a greasy poop that stains the fur around their anus, and they may appear hungrier without gaining any weight. These problems can be serious, and your dog’s veterinarian will help you determine the root cause of this problem and how it can be resolved.

3. Parasites

Intestinal parasites such as hookworms can cause your dog to produce smelly diarrhea. There are also other pathogens such as coccidia and giardiasis that can cause your dog to produce abnormal poop. Parasites are most common in puppies or adult dogs with weakened immune systems. Parasites should be treated by a veterinarian, and deworming your dog can help prevent them from being infested by parasites.

female veterinarian checking up a dog
Image By: Zivica Kerkez, Shutterstock

4. Parvovirus

Puppies are at most risk of developing life-threatening parvovirus. Infected puppies will have a loose poop with the consistency of diarrhea, followed by a strong odor. This is a contagious and viral disease that has a very specific odor. If you suspect that your puppy has been infected by this virus, they will need prompt veterinarian treatment to help them get better.

5. Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency (EPI)

The pancreas plays a huge role in your dog’s digestive system and their ability to absorb nutrients from their food. This can lead to your dog becoming malnourished because no matter how much food they eat, their pancreas is not absorbing essential nutrients from the food. With this condition, Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency (EPI), your dog may not produce enough enzymes in their body to break food down, leading to nutrient depletion. The poop itself will have an abnormal gray color with a strong odor.

A treatment plan will include providing your dog with extra enzymes and nutrient-rich food to prevent them from becoming malnourished with the help of a veterinarian.

close up of french bulldog dog being held by veterinarian doctor at vet clinic
Image By: Hryshchyshen Serhii, Shutterstock

6. Food Allergies

Your dog could have a specific allergy to ingredients in their food that are not being absorbed by the body and are instead passing through the digestive tract. This can also cause your dog’s stomach to become inflamed from the irritation. You may notice that your dog is bloated and passes foul-smelling gas and watery poop more frequently. A prompt diet change after addressing the allergy-inducing ingredient can help combat the issue. Speak with your veterinarian if you suspect your dog may have a food allergy.



Some reasons for smelly dog poop can be concerning, and if you notice any changes in your dog’s bathroom habits or the state of their stool, it’s important to take them to a vet for a check-up and possible treatment. There are also special diets that your dog can be put on to help prevent the smell of their poop from becoming noticeable.

Dog poop will always have a smell associated with it, but it should not change in consistency and smell.

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Featured Image Credit: APIWICH PUDSUMRAN, Shutterstock

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