Why Does My Dog Smell Like Metal

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Why Does My Dog Smell Like Metal

Dogs are not known for being the most fragrant of animals, but sometimes there’s a smell that just does not seem right.

If your dog is giving off a metallic type of odor, then you might be wondering why this is.

There are several reasons why your dog might smell a bit like iron, we will explore this further and whether you need to be worried.

Why Does My Dog Smell Like Metal

Why Does My Dog Smell Like Metal (Iron)?

There are many reasons why your dog may smell like metal (specifically, iron).

Below we will look at the most common areas of the dog’s body that could have a metallic odor and the reasons for this metal smell.

There are two main areas why your dog might smell like metal, either their breath or from their behind.

Why Does My Dog’s Breath Smell Like Metal?

If you have localized the smell to your dog’s mouth then it could be because of one of these reasons:

Your Dog Has Chewed On Something

Could your dog have been chewing on something he should not have done?

If your dog has chewed down on something hard or sharp then they may have wounded their mouth, causing a bleed.

The smell of this blood in their mouth will have an iron-like odor.

It could also be that object they were chewing on itself may have a metallic smell that has stayed on their breath.

Check to see if the metal smell is coming from their breath soon after they have chewed on something.

This might lead to the answer you are seeking.

Your Dog Has Been Licking Their Anal Glands

It sounds disgusting, but many dogs lick their bottoms!

They may do this even more than usual if their anal glands are overly full or uncomfortable.

The scent-marking material that these glands contain, is often fishy or metallic-like in smell.

If you notice your dog licking his anus, or scooting his bottom along the ground to relieve his discomfort, take him to your vet for a check-up, he may need his glands expressed.

Your Dog Has Dental Disease

If your dog has bad teeth, then this can give his breath an unpleasant metal-like smell.

The combination of excessive tartar, trapped food, high levels of bacteria, and inflamed gums can be quite pungent.

Get familiar with checking your dog’s teeth regularly so you can be aware of problems occurring.

You should also get your dog comfortable with daily teeth brushing, to try and stop dental disease from occurring in the first place.

If you suspect your dog has a problem with his teeth or gums, then get him checked over by your veterinarian.

They may advise surgery to remove any problematic teeth, as well as scale and polish to clean up the rest.

Your Dog Has An Internal Bleeding Issue

As well as mouth injuries, bleeds elsewhere in your dog’s body could cause an iron smell.

If he is bleeding internally in his stomach or in his respiratory system, then you may notice a metallic smell on his breath.

However, this is uncommon, and these animals usually show other symptoms of illness as well.

These include pale gums, lethargy, an elevated heart rate, and even collapse.

Things that could cause bleeding like this include, gastric ulcers, a blood clotting disorder, and cancer.

Your Dog Has Kidney Disease

If your dog is in kidney failure then he may develop something called uremic breath.

This is essentially due to a build-up of proteins and waste products in his system.

Sometimes mouth and tongue ulcers may be seen too.

These animals are usually very unwell and show symptoms such as:

  • Increased thirst
  • Decreased appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Lethargy
  • Dehydration

Why Does My Dog’s Poop Smell Metallic?

If your dog’s poop smells metallic then it may be because it contains blood.

You could see a fresh red or pink tinge in your dog’s poop.

Sometimes the blood may be digested though, especially if the bleed occurred high up in your dog’s digestive tract, such as his stomach.

This will make the stools appear very dark or black, and they may be sticky and tar-like.

This is referred to as melaena.

Other signs that there is a problem with your dog’s digestive tract include:

  • Loose stools or diarrhea
  • Excessive mucus in the stools
  • A change in color
  • Fresh or digested blood present
  • Straining to pass feces
  • Vomiting
  • Inappetence
  • Increased flatulence 

You should take your dog to your vet if you suspect blood in his poop as this could lead to an emergency.

Blood in poop is never a good sign as something bigger could be going on within their GI tract.

Why Does My Dog’s Bum Smell Metallic?

If you think your dog’s bum smells metallic then there are usually two main reasons for this, the first being the most common:

Anal Gland Issues

Anal glands are two small sacs just inside the anus, which contain scent-marking material.

Most dogs will express these themselves when stools pass through and press against them.

However, in some dogs, this doesn’t happen and the glands become overly full and uncomfortable.

These impacted anal glands may leak a little causing your dog to have an iron or fishy-smelling bottom, as well as causing irritation, making your dog lick his bottom excessively.

These glands need expressing to empty the material.

If left they could become infected and even rupture, causing your dog considerable pain.

Some dogs are prone to anal gland issues, whereas others never suffer.

There are some measures you can take to reduce the risk of anal gland impaction:

  • Increasing fiber in their diet through supplements to create bigger and firmer stools which will help your dog empty his glands himself.
  • Keep your dog at a healthy body weight, as being overweight can predispose to anal gland problems.
  • Manage any skin allergies, as some dogs with allergies can present with recurrent anal gland issues.
  • Get your dog’s anal glands checked at the first indication that there is a problem.

Your Dog Has A Bleed

Your dog may smell like iron if he is having a bleed from his anus or digestive tract.

Sometimes bleeding is associated with anal gland abscessation and ruptures, but it can also be seen with other wounds or bleeding masses near your dog’s bottom.

Sometimes a bleed from the stomach or intestines could mean your dog smells a bit metallic from passing stools with blood in it.

Urinary Tract Infection

A metallic smell down below may actually be associated with the genitals because of a urinary tract infection, or because of an infection in the vagina or penis.

If there is blood in your dog’s urine, then it could cause an iron-like smell to occur.

You may also notice other symptoms such as discomfort when urinating, a change in color of the urine, having urinary accidents, or going little and often.

When Should I Take My Dog To The Vet?

You should always go to the vet if your dog smells like blood or if you have any specific concerns about them.

Your vet will be able to help if you suspect any of the conditions mentioned previously.

They will start by examining your dog and ruling out some of the most common conditions, by checking their teeth and expressing their anal glands.

If they have concerns about your dog following their checks, then they will discuss possible next steps with you.

If your dog is showing other signs of illness alongside their metallic breath (such as lethargy, loss of appetite, or pale gums), then blood samples will usually be recommended.

Your dog may need to be hospitalized while investigations take place.

Should I Be Worried If My Dog Smells Metallic?

In most cases, the cause of your dog’s metallic smell is nothing too serious, with anal gland and dental disease being very common.

Your vet should hopefully be able to identify the cause of your dog’s metallic smell and help you to resolve the issue.

While you should not be worried if your dog is otherwise well, you should always get your dog examined.

Even less serious conditions like dental issues or anal gland problems will need some sort of intervention to resolve.

If your vet is unable to find anything that would cause this smell, they may suggest you monitor your dog for now and bring him back if the smell reoccurs.

Final Thoughts On Dogs Smelling Like Metal

My Dogs Poop Smells Metallic

If your dog or puppy smells like iron then give them a check over at home for any immediate signs of injury or disease.

If it’s not clear what the cause is then take them to your vet for a more thorough examination.

Some of the potential causes can be serious, and others less so, but it can be hard to know which it is without a veterinarian’s check.

If you have worries about your dog, we always suggest giving your vet a call.


Why does my dog have an iron smell in his breath?

An iron smell on your dog’s breath usually indicates there is an underlying issue going on.

It could be because he has been licking at his bottom (in the case of impacted anal glands), because of dental disease, or because of a more serious condition like kidney disease.

It’s best to get your dog checked over by a vet to work out what is going on.

How do you know if your dog needs his anal glands squeezed?

If your dog is licking at his bottom excessively, rubbing or scooting it on the ground, or has a strong fishy or metallic odor down there, then he probably needs his anal glands emptied.

Take him to your vet who will be able to examine and express the glands for you.

Dr Rebecca MacMillan

Rebecca MacMillan

Rebecca is a companion animal vet who lives and works in the UK. She graduated from The Royal Veterinary College (London) in 2009 and since then has gained a wealth of experience in all aspects of veterinary care. She has also recently completed a British Small Animal Veterinary Association postgraduate qualification in medicine, passing with commendation. Outside of work, she enjoys writing on a variety of pet health and behaviour topics, as well as spending time with her young family and her flat coated retriever, George.

Rebecca is currently a Veterinary Surgeon at Vets4Pets – Find her on LinkedIn

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