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Animal Doctor Articles Weekly on February 11, 2013

Question

I have an 11-year-old spayed female mix-breed dog. She has a musty odor that will not go away, even after a bath. I have changed her food to no avail.

Do you have any suggestions that might help?

E.B., Archdale, NC Feb 11, 2013

Answer

Older dogs often develop a distinct odor, which can be quite penetrating when one is close to them or sharing the same room. The smell is usually associated with the kidneys and liver not working as well as they should in ridding the body of waste products and toxins. A generic approach to this geriatric issue is a regimen of regular exercise, weight management and a weekly "dry bath" (rubbing in and brushing out baby powder to absorb and remove odors). You might try various natural herbal spray products like PetzLife Bath Eaze, a bathless shampoo and conditioner, and Odorz Off bedding odor remover.

Launder your dog's bedding weekly using detergent with natural fragrances. In many instances, a periodic shampoo with Selsun Blue and daily supplements of brewer's yeast and flaxseed oil (about 1 teaspoon of each) in the dog's food can be of great help.

My old dogs always seemed happier and livelier when they smelled better, and I am sure many dogs become depressed by their stink.

A change in body odor can also mean a change in activity and the content of the skin's oil. A full veterinary checkup would be worth the investment, if you trust your nose as a potential diagnostic tool. Some smelly old dogs, for example, have poor thyroid or adrenal gland function, and no amount of shampooing is going to address the cause.

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