Why Do Labradors Smell So Bad and What You Can Do About It

If you have been a pet parent to Labrador Retrievers for quite some time now, chances are likely that you have been wondering, “Why do Labradors smell so bad?”

The truth is, all dogs have a  distinct doggy smell about them. Some smells are better, while some are worse than others.

With Labs being part of the latter category, this is probably the reason why you have been searching for answers to the question “why do Labradors smell so bad?”.

Is it truly natural for your Lab to smell so bad, or is it time to be alarmed?

The rest of this article will go through all the different reasons why do your Labradors smell bad, plus what you can do about it.

Take note that there is no predefined solution to fixing your Labrador Retriever’s bad odor.

Sometimes, it can be as easy as giving them a quick bath, and sometimes, it could be something more complex, such as a health issue.

Regardless, having a decent-smelling Labrador is something that all pet owners want in their lives.

Do Labradors smell bad?

In our previous post, we have already answered that yes, most of the time, Labradors will smell.

It is natural for dogs—even short-haired dogs like Labradors—to retain a certain kind of smell. However, this does not mean that your Lab automatically smells bad.

The natural dog smell does not have to be unpleasant. In fact, it is only when your Labrador Retriever smells so bad that you have to give them a bath.

What is smelly or not depends on one pet owner to another. Sometimes, you may not even notice that your house already starts to smell like your Lab unless someone points it out.

Hence, if your Labrador has the standard dog smell, chances are that all they need is a good, old bath.

Why does my Labrador smell so bad?

Despite your Labrador Retrievers giving off a natural smell, there are still a host of reasons why your Lab’s smell may take a turn for the worse.

However, it ain’t all that bad! You can usually make them smell good again using a healthy dose of shampoo during bathtime.

Nonetheless, it is critical to bear in mind that sometimes, the way your Labrador smells could be an indication of a more complex problem, such as an underlying health condition.

It is, therefore, crucial that you are able to identify the reason behind your Lab’s bad odor.

This way, you can watch out for any issues or health problems that may affect their odor.

Here are some of the causes behind why do Labradors smell bad:

1) Rolling around in smelly items

Labrador Retrievers are a very active breed; we all know that. And with their playfulness, they’ll often come across substances that may not necessarily be pleasant to the nose.

Mud, for instance, is a very common culprit. For many Lab owners, it is also one of the major reasons why do Labradors stink so bad after a while.

Fortunately, this is a situation that you can just easily manage. And while your Labrador Retriever may enjoy rolling around in dirty things that make your Labs stink, you know that the solution is right at home in the form of a bath.

2) Skin infections

Another reason why do Labs stink unnaturally is that there may be problems with their skin.

There are telltale signs of skin infection, such as your Labrador’s unceasing scratching or some red spots on their skin.

When this happens, it is imperative that you visit your Labrador Retriever’s vet so that they can provide you with immediate solutions.

Skin infections are no minor thing. In fact, they can be very uncomfortable. So, make sure your Labrador is free from discomfort.

3) Playing in water

Their love for water may also be the reason why do Labs smell.

As we’ve already covered previously, the majority of Labrador Retrievers love to play, swim, and participate in water-related activities, thanks to their history as waterdogs.

However, not drying them properly can make them smell a bit stronger than before.

Fortunately, the smell usually goes away once they are fully dried. It helps if you thoroughly dry them right after they are done swimming or playing in the water.

Not paying enough attention to certain parts of their body (e.g., folds in their skin) can cause skin infections in the future and will make you go back to square one with the smell problem.

4) Dental issues

You may have to check if your Labrador had bad breath, as it could be the reason why your Lab smells so bad.

On the other hand, if your canine companion is not really a huge fan of water, bad breath may be another reason as to why do your Labs smell so bad.

It may not be their coat that is the major problem, but their dental hygiene.

Like all parts of the body, your Labrador’s mouth should also be regularly cleaned and paid attention to.

In this study on Labradors and their dental health, the researchers found that the majority of the plaque issues began on the incisors.

If left untreated, this could become a problem that builds up over time and causes you more trouble down the road.

It is best to pay close attention to your Labrador Retriever’s oral health now and prevent any unwanted damage.

Just like us, Labs can also encounter problems with tartar and food getting stuck in their teeth.

Monitoring their teeth once in a while will help mitigate the risks of further dental issues.

5) Poor diet

In addition to all those stated above, a poor diet could also contribute to your Labrador’s bad odor.

Some kinds of dog food can cause food allergies or skin inflammation that will subsequently lead to a more odorous smell from your Lab.

This commonly happens when your dog is on a diet that is mostly filled with processed food.

Try consulting with your vet to see if there are any changes that you should make to your Labrador’s diet to improve their smell.

This could also help you prevent other medical issues for your Lab.

Overall, watching your Lab’s diet is something that you should already be paying attention to, given their track record for obesity.

You just need to take it a step further and take a look at the actual nutritional value of their food consumption.

Taking note of their diet and making improvements to it will not only help curb their musty smell but also improve other aspects of their overall wellness.

6) Anal sacs

Problems with anal sacs are one of the most common issues that lead to undesirable odor in dogs. For this one, your Labrador is definitely no exception.

Your Lab has scent sacs on their bum that, if damaged or clogged. Could cause your Lab discomfort and make them smell worse than they usually would.

In this case, intervention by a medical professional is necessary to alleviate your dog’s discomfort.

7) Gas

Gas is a possible issue when confronting why your Lab smells so bad. It could be that they did not agree with something in their food, which results in the smelly release of gas.

The easiest thing to do here is to try and look for the source of the gas problem and make the necessary changes.

Checking in with your vet is also a good idea to see if they have additional inputs or if you are not yet sure what are the steps that you should take.

What to do when your Labradors smell so bad

Now that you know what are the possible reasons why your Labradors stink, you can implement measures to resolve it.

The key to solving your Labrador Retriever’s odor problem is knowing why your Lab smells so bad in the first place.

Since there are different solutions to different causes, it is necessary that you tackle the main problem at hand.

Usually, the bad smell is just a symptom of the underlying problem. If this is the case, dealing with the smell alone will not be possible.

The best thing to do is to analyze the situation and see which fix works best for you.

That said, here are a couple of fixes to help you solve the issue of why your Lab stinks so bad:

1) Bathe your Labrador using shampoo to help them not smell bad.

Of course, first on this list is the easiest thing you can do. Which is to give your Labrador a bath!

It might not solve all of the problems stated above. But it can definitely help erase your dog’s stink after they rolled in the garbage.

Take note, however, that baths only work best if the odor problem is superficial. It will not work if your dog has a medical issue or other serious odor concerns.

Some Labrador Retrievers can even go a couple of months without a bath. Bear in mind also that it is not necessary to bathe your dog frequently. In fact, it is quite frowned upon.

Dog shampoos have ingredients in them that strip your Lab’s coat of its natural oils. Which leads them to produce more oils and results in a smellier odor.

So, if you shampoo your Lab often, you are probably doing more harm than good.

Only have your Labrador take baths when absolutely necessary. Such as when your Lab rolls around in something that is particularly stubborn to get off that you can’t wash it away with just water.

Other than that, water is pretty much a good solution to regular cleanup.

2) Take care of your Lab’s overall health so that they will not smell so bad.

The next thing you have to watch out for is your Labrador’s health.

This includes always checking on your Lab’s teeth if there are any potential problems coming up. After all, oral hygiene should not be taken for granted in any situation.

Additionally, make sure that your Labrador Retriever is eating the right food in the right amounts.

A consultation with your vet about the right nutrients that your Lab needs will be incredibly helpful in this scenario.

If the root cause of why your Lab smells so bad is a medical issue. It goes without saying that the next course of action should be to visit the vet.

Medical problems require medical advice, so you should take your Labrador for a checkup as soon as you can.

Authored By

John Lab

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