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Why Does My Dog Smell Like Metal?

Why Does My Dog Smell Like Metal

If a whiff of your dog leaves you wondering, “why does my dog smell like metal?”, you’re not alone. The reason could be serious, so read on for possible causes.

A metallic smell surrounding your dog is a cause of concern. In fact, a metallic smell in the breath, pee, urine, and skin indicates a potential health issue, most times severe. Many pet parents associate a metallic smell with blood and investigate their dogs for injuries, and they aren’t wrong. 

However, some reasons, such as problematic anal glands, have little to nothing to do with blood from external wounds.  Knowing why your dog smells like metal enables you to seek urgent medical attention when they need it the most. This article equips you with knowledge of dog metallic smell and a few solutions depending on the offending cause. 

Why Does My Dog Smell Like Metal?

Why Does My Dog Smell Like Metal?

Your dog can have a metallic smell because of medical issues such as dental problems, kidney failure, and impacted anal glands. Seek medical attention urgently because many conditions causing the metallic smell, like internal bleeding, can be fatal without proper treatment. 

The cause of the smell greatly depends on where it comes from. Depending on the affected area, the odor can come from the breath, urine, skin, or vomit. Lethargy, appetite changes, and depression often accompany the metallic smell if your dog is sick. 

Dogs aren’t the most fragrant animals, but sometimes their smell just isn’t right and is more odiferous than usual. Swift veterinary action effectively eliminates this suspicious smell and any other symptom your dog may be displaying. Here are 5 possible reasons your dog has a metallic smell and what you can do about it. 

Dental issues that cause bleeding in the mouth

Most define the infamous dog breath as fishy rather than metallic when your pooch has halitosis. Oral conditions such as canine periodontal disease cause bleeding and teeth loss in dogs and are as painful as they sound. 

When the bleeding occurs in the gums, you’ll notice a metallic smell, typical of blood, when your dog leans in close. Gingivitis is an early form of canine periodontal disease, and gum inflammation and swelling characterize the condition. 

Canine periodontitis is common among dogs, affecting around 80% of dogs before getting to 3 years old. You can prevent these dental diseases by being proactive with your dog’s oral hygiene by brushing their teeth at least twice weekly. Additionally, you can provide dental chews and chew toys for maximum dental benefits. 

Full and impacted anal glands

Dogs have two kidney-shaped sacs at their rear end. These glands secrete a pungent liquid with both a fishy and metallic smell. The secretion gives dogs their distinct scents, which explains sniffing each other’s butts when they meet. 

Dog owners have likely walked in on their dogs licking their anal area, a behavior that can cause fishy breath. Sometimes, these anal sacs don’t empty enough as they should when your dog poops. The result is a metallic smell when the anal sac secretions thicken, causing your dog to smell after licking the area.

Our dog grooming spray helps to eliminate the metallic stench as you seek medical intervention for the anal sacs. The natural plant-based products are easy on your canine’s fur, so you don’t have to worry about damage to your dog’s coat. 

As far as causes of anal gland issues go, changes in stool consistency are the most notorious culprit. When dogs poop, they naturally express the anal sacs and empty them a bit each time. If your dog has diarrhea or loose stool, they are more susceptible to anal gland issues than a dog with firm poop. 

Gastrointestinal issues like stomach upset cause changes in stool consistency. Arthritic and obese dogs or those with orthopedic problems like luxating patellar have difficulty squatting and pooping. As a result, they are more susceptible to impacted anal glands. 

You’ll notice scooting and excessive rear licking if your dogs have anal problems. Treatment of anal sac problems involves manual expression of the sacs by a vet to empty the contents. Some professional groomers are trained in anal sac emptying, but it’s best to stick to the vet because anal sacs are delicate.

Kidney failure

Kidney failure is a severe medical condition where the kidneys don’t remove bodily toxins as they should. In the case of kidney problems, your dog’s urine can smell like iron due to the accumulation of bodily wastes and toxins that the kidneys haven’t effectively filtered out. 

You can notice blood in urine in advanced stages of renal failure in dogs. Your dog also displays what professionals call uremic breath, which results from an accumulation of proteins and waste products. Dogs with renal failure also show increased thirst, lethargy, decrease in appetite, and weight loss. 

It’s best to consult your vet right away if you notice any of the above signs. Kidney failure is fatal if you don’t medically manage it in time. Grievously, many dogs with acute renal failure don’t make it, but some can survive and heal with early and vigorous treatment. Chronic kidney failure is untreatable but manageable with fluid therapy and diet changes and is mainly associated with aging. 

Internal bleeding

Internal bleeding is dangerous because it’s less obvious as it happens inside the body, which can delay diagnosis. Immune-mediated diseases, rat-bait poison, and trauma can cause your dog to bleed internally. You can catch a metallic smell in your dog’s breath because of the blood within the body. 

The most common signs include pale gums, lethargy due to the lower red blood cells, a distended abdomen, and shallow breathing. Internal bleeding warrants immediate medical attention because it can be fatal or cause severe anemia if untreated. 

Bleeding of the body tracts due to UTIs or ulcers

Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) cause traces of blood in the urine, which you can smell if your dog accidentally pees in the house. The overactive bladder makes it hard for your dog to hold in pee, causing them to urinate in odd places like their beds, where the smell rubs onto the fur when they sleep.

Sometimes your dog’s poop has a red tinge due to small amounts of blood. Ulcers in the gastrointestinal tract can cause blood in your furry friend’s excretion.  The passage of stool containing digested blood is referred to as Melaena, and the poo is dark and sticky. Melaena results from dogs swallowing blood or internal bleeding where the body digests the blood. 

It’s essential to know how to clean your dog without baths if they smell due to any of the reasons above. You can’t wash your dog with shampoo every time they stink as that would strip their coats of sebum. Dog wipes, colognes, and dry shampoos are a few ways to clean your dog bath-free. 

How to Prevent a Metallic Smell in Dogs

How to Prevent a Metallic Smell in Dogs

The best solutions to metallic-smelling dogs are preventative. Taking precautionary measures against these odors helps to prevent the iron-like smell in the first place. The solutions depend on the cause of the stench and where the smells originate in the body. 

Clean your dog’s teeth

Oral hygiene is crucial to your dog’s health, so regular brushing is necessary. Taking the time at least twice every week ensures your dog’s teeth are free from plaque buildup and halitosis. Yearly visits to the vet ensure the teeth are in a topnotch condition and that dogs receive treatment for present dental issues.

Feed your dog a quality diet

Your dog’s smell can indicate their internal state, so good nutrition prevents metallic dog smell. Dogs with stomach sensitivities that feed on low-quality foods can experience upsets and loose stool. The loose poop isn’t firm enough to express and empty the anal glands leading to issues that cause a metallic smell. 

Keep an eye on the environment

Your dog can chew on something that hurts the gums, causing them to bleed and have a metallic smell. Dogs consuming harmful ingredients like certain plants and antifreeze can experience renal failure. To avoid these situations, ensure the environment your dog plays in has only pet-safe substances.

Final Thoughts 

Metallic smells in dogs are concerning as they indicate medical issues. Dental problems, kidney failure, full anal glands, and internal bleeding can cause your dog to have an iron-like odor. Urgent medical attention is vital if you notice the metallic smell and signs like lethargy and loss of appetite. 

We recommend cleaning your dog’s teeth at least twice a week straight from puppyhood if possible. Feeding your dog a proper diet helps prevent obesity and gastrointestinal issues, which can cause impacted and even abscessed anal sacs. Metallic dog smells are disconcerting, but with treatment and proper preventive measures, you can get ahead of the odors. 


Tamsin De La Harpe


Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions.

Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.

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