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Why Does My Dog Smell Like Maple Syrup? 5 Vet-Approved Reasons & FAQ

Written by: Ed Malaker

Last Updated on April 23, 2024 by Dogster Team

adorable border collie dog drinking from a water bowl

Why Does My Dog Smell Like Maple Syrup? 5 Vet-Approved Reasons & FAQ


Dr. Marta Vidal-Abarca Photo


Dr. Marta Vidal-Abarca


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

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Our pets can emit various odors depending on what they get into and what kind of food they eat, but one of the strangest aromas that some owners notice coming from their dogs is that of maple syrup. If you notice this odd scent on your dog, keep reading as we list several possible causes.

The 5 Reasons Your Dog Smells Like Maple Syrup

1. Diet

Some foods or treats that contain maple syrup, molasses, or other sweet ingredients can make your dog’s breath smell like maple syrup. If your dog got into your pancakes or other goodies when you weren’t looking, there’s a good chance you will smell it on their breath. They can also get some on their fur and face, increasing the fragrance. Sugary food and other ingredients can sometimes change the odor of their urine. Fenugreek seeds can also make your dog smell like pancakes, but they are uncommon in America.

labrador retriever dog eating dry kibble
Image Credit: Jaromir Chalabala, Shutterstock

2. Wild Plants

A few wild plants can cause your pup to smell like maple syrup if they chew on them; they change the fragrance of their breath, urine, or both. One is the California cudweed, which has a hairy appearance, whitish leaves, and small white flowers. You will find these plants growing wild in California, and your dog can easily eat them or rub the flowers and leaves on their coat as they play.

3. Yeast Infection

Dogs with yeast infections, particularly in their ears, paws, or skin folds, may emit a sweet or musty odor that resembles maple syrup. Yeast overgrowth is typically secondary to another health problem that may alter the skin’s defense mechanisms.

Common problems contributing to yeast infections include food or environmental allergies, immune system issues, and hormonal problems. Fortunately, these infections usually clear up with topical treatment, including shampoos, lotions, wipes, and washes, or with oral medication in severe cases.

vet examining the ear of dachshund dog
Image Credit: Tyler Olson, Shutterstock

4. Bacterial Infection

Some bacterial infections, including ear and skin infections, can produce an odor resembling maple syrup. These infections can arise from inflamed ears, wounds, hot spots, or other sources of bacterial growth on the skin. Fortunately, your vet can prescribe medication to treat these infections.

5. Ketoacidosis (Canine Diabetes)

If none of the other reasons on this list are likely, the sweet smell from your dog might result from ketoacidosis, a severe complication of canine diabetes. Diabetes occurs when the body doesn’t create enough insulin or doesn’t respond to it properly.

Temporary insulin resistance can also occur when a female dog goes into heat. Any form of diabetes leads to too much sugar in the bloodstream. If the sugar levels are high, the body starts producing ketone bodies, which can cause the dog’s breath to smell sweet, often reminiscent of maple syrup. When diabetic ketoacidosis develops, treatment must be started immediately because major metabolic complications can occur.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Doctor examining Basset Hound dog at veterinary clinic
Image by: sirtravelalot, Shutterstock

Should I Be Concerned If My Dog Smells Like Maple Syrup?

If the smell is persistent or accompanied by other concerning signs, it’s advisable to consult with a veterinarian. They can perform a thorough examination, run necessary tests, and provide an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

Can the Maple Syrup-Like Smell Be Temporary or Harmless?

The smell may be temporary and harmless, especially if linked to diet or exposure to scented products. However, it’s always best to have your dog evaluated by a veterinarian to rule out any underlying health issues.

How Common Is Diabetes in Dogs?

Canine diabetes is relatively common, with estimates suggesting that around one in 85 to 500 dogs may develop the condition.

What Are the Risk Factors for Canine Diabetes?

Various factors can increase a dog’s risk of developing diabetes, including obesity, breed, age, sex, and genetic predisposition.

Can Diabetes Be Cured in Dogs?

Currently, diabetes in dogs can be managed, but there is no cure. However, dogs with diabetes can live fulfilling and relatively normal lives, but it requires commitment from the owner to administer insulin, monitor blood glucose levels, and make necessary lifestyle adjustments.


Your dog can get into food or plants that can cause them to smell like maple syrup, and the odor will likely clear up in a few days. Some yeast or bacterial infections might also make your put smell like maple syrup, and they’ll require medication from your vet to clear the infection. However, if the smell is persistent and your dog is unwell, it could be a sign of ketoacidosis, a complication of canine diabetes. This is an endocrine disease for which there is typically no cure, though dogs can still live happy lives with proper care from their vets and owners.

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Featured Image Credit: Ksenia Raykova, Shutterstock

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