You hold your pooch, but you’re suddenly taken aback…
They smell like period blood!
Others will also describe this smell as fishy or metallic.
Whichever it is, what could’ve suddenly brought this odor to your pooch?
Read to learn:
- 11 reasons why your dog could be smelling this way.
- 3 things to do when your canine smells like period blood.
- 7 kinds of infection that can cause your dog to smell like this.
- And many more…
Table of contents
- Why does my dog smell like period blood?
- 11 reasons why your dog smells like period blood
- What should I do if my dog smells like period blood? 3 tips
Why does my dog smell like period blood?
Your dog smells like period blood due to blood-tinged discharge. It’s from metritis, vaginitis or balanitis, estrous cycle, or yeast infection. Also note UTI, pyometra, anal gland or dental problems, or megaesophagus. Other times, your dog could be eating waste, or they’re just a smelly breed.
11 reasons why your dog smells like period blood
#1: They have an anal gland problem
When your pup meets another canine, you’d notice that they smell each other’s bums.
The behavior’s done to greet and evaluate the new being.
But what exactly are they taking a whiff off?
Your pup is smelling the brown and oily liquid in the other’s butt. That liquid is found in two pouches on either side of a dog’s anus.
And those pouches are called the anal sacs. It has walls that are lined with sweat glands. Those walls produce the foul-smelling mixture.
Now, if these sacs are impacted, your dog will have anal gland problems.
That condition could cause your dog to smell like period blood.
According to AKC, there are factors to consider. These factors increase the likelihood of this condition. Those are:
- Long-term skin dermatitis.
- Allergies (food or environmental).
- Inadequate amount of fiber in their diet.
- Genetically predisposed. It’s more common for smaller breeds. Still, all breeds can be affected by it.
The signs of anal gland problems are:
- Bloody stool.
- Difficulty in defecating.
- Pus in their rectum area.
- Feeling pain when sitting.
- Constant itching of the rear end.
- Scooting their rear across the floor.
- Persistent licking and biting of the anal area.
Warning: It’s a common condition for dogs. At the same time, it’s excruciating and detrimental.
Severe impaction in their anus can develop into an infection. If that’s the case, more attention regarding this is needed.
#2: Urinary tract infection (UTI)
UTI can be the culprit of your dog smelling like period blood.
One sign of UTI is a metallic smell from your pooch’s genitals. However, it’s reported that UTI smell can differ from dog to dog.
That’s why dog parents also report these smells:
- Like a rotten fish.
Aside from the smell, what are other symptoms of UTI?
Vets say those symptoms are:
- Blood in the urine.
- Straining their pee.
- Excessive drinking of water.
- Constant licking of the genitals.
- Whining while urinating due to the discomfort.
So, what causes UTIs in dogs?
The infection occurs when bacteria contaminate sterile urine in your pup’s bladder. The pathogens get in there through your dog’s urethra.
UTI is not the same for every dog
That’s because the type of bacteria that causes it varies from one case to another.
Take it from this study:
Researchers isolated 1,636 samples from 1,068 dogs with UTI.
In these samples, they identified the most common bacteria. And they are:
- Enterococcus (13.3%).
- Escherichia coli (52.5%).
- Staphylococcus (13.6%).
- Proteus mirabilis, Enterobacter, Klebsiella, Pseudomonas aeruginosa (20.6%).
Additionally, the investigation produced these results:
About 77.1% of the samples only have 1 species of bacteria. That means the majority of the infections are monomicrobial.
The remaining 22.9% of the samples have 2 or more types of bacteria. That’s called polymicrobial infection.
Note: The main purpose of the study isn’t to identify these bacteria. The researchers aimed to study the vulnerability of these bacteria to antibiotics.
It’s necessary because these bacteria increasingly evolve to be resistant to antibiotics.
Another infection that can cause your pooch to smell like period blood: pyometra.
Note: This occurs on female dogs only.
That’s because the infection happens in the uterus.
The bacteria use your female pooch’s cervix to enter.
However, they can only go in during a dog’s heat period. So, only intact females can get this condition.
That’s because when your canine’s in heat, their cervix is open. That’s the way it is to allow sperm to enter the uterus.
Now, during every heat cycle, their uterus creates a thick wall of tissue lining. It’s to prepare for a possible pregnancy.
What if, as time goes by and no pregnancy happens?
Then, the uterine lining gets thick and thick every cycle.
That thickness will result in the uterus being an ideal home to bacteria.
Additionally, there will be no way to expel the pathogens if it’s come to that point.
Now, according to VCA Hospital, the signs depend on the case.
There are 2 types of pyometra: open and closed.
For an open pyometra, a drain of pus will come from the uterus.
On the other hand, the closed condition will not permit this pus to drain. This case causes extreme complications in your pup’s abdomen, kidney, and bloodstream.
Here are other symptoms of pyometra:
- In some cases, depression.
Warning: This is a life-threatening condition.
In this study, 4.5% of the 111 dogs died because of this condition. It’s a small sample, but it’s enough to see how dangerous it is to have the infection.
And yet another fatal bacterial infection that causes the period blood smell.
Metritis is a postpartum infection that affects the uterus. It causes the uterine lining to be inflamed.
PetMD says this condition may occur in these events:
- A week after giving birth.
- Natural or medical abortion.
- Non-sterile artificial insemination.
The main causes are:
- Difficult birth.
- Prolonged delivery.
- Giving birth to a large litter.
- Retained fetuses or placentas.
Symptoms of metritis include:
- Dark red gums.
- Lack of appetite.
- Neglect of her litter.
- Foul-smelling discharge, which causes the period blood smell. Can be mixed with pus and blood. It’s usually a dark green color.
Warning: This is a fatal condition that needs immediate attention.
If left untreated, it can lead to:
- Septic shock.
- Blood infection.
#5: She’s in heat
That smell of period blood in your female pup is appealing to a male dog.
It’s because she can be in heat.
Dog parents detect different in-heat smells from another.
Some may say it doesn’t smell at all. Others will tell you the smell’s unpleasant.
Whichever it is, it doesn’t matter for the male pup.
“How does it work like that?”
Here’s a table that explains a female dog’s heat cycle. It’s called an estrous cycle and consists of 3 phases:
|Phase||What occurs during this phase?|
|Proestrus||This phase is the onset of her cycle. It can last for a few days to 4 weeks. In this phase, your canine doesn’t allow mating yet. It’s because her vulva is swelling. The period smell can come from actual blood-tinged discharge.|
|Estrus||This is considered to be the real “heat” period. That’s because in this phase, your pup allows mating. Length varies from 3 to 21 days.|
|Anestrus||In this phase, your dog’s heat cycle comes to an end. This usually lasts for 4 to 5 months.|
Now, during this whole cycle, your female pup releases a unique smelling discharge.
Specific pheromones cause that peculiar smell. That distinct odor is what makes a male pup aroused.
The smell may be unpleasant for the dog parent. On the other hand, it’s an invitation for Fido.
#6: Vaginitis or balanitis/balanoposthitis
That period blood smell may be coming from an actual discharge. This time, the discharge is expelled due to the swelling of their genitals.
In this condition, your female dog’s vagina or vestibule is swollen.
This is a rare condition. However, it can manifest at any age or breed.
It can also affect both spayed and intact dogs.
What causes this condition?
Experts say that the cause of this is usually:
- Vaginal trauma.
- Tumors in the vagina.
- Bacterial or viral infection.
- Anatomical abnormalities.
- Sexually immature vagina.
- Left out urine or feces around the vulva.
- Presence of foreign bodies contaminates the reproductive system.
Vaginitis causes your pup to excrete vaginal discharge. It usually consists of mucus, pus, or blood. That’s what gives off the period smell.
Other signs of vaginitis are:
- Frequent urination.
- Persistent licking of the vaginal area.
- Consistent humping of the air or nearby objects. They do this to alleviate the feeling from their swollen genitals.
According to research, this condition causes male dogs to be aroused. It doesn’t matter if she’s in heat or not.
Balanitis or balanoposthitis
This is described as the inflammation of a dog’s penis.
During arousal, a male dog’s penis is expected to be swollen. After an hour or so, you could expect their genitals to go back in their foreskin.
But what if it continues to be swollen?
Then, the case could be balanitis or balanoposthitis.
“What’s the difference between the two?”
Here’s what experts say:
Balanitis refers to the inflammation of the penis.
Balanoposthitis is the inflammation of the glans and prepuce (foreskin).
Aside from the swelling, you’d also see these signs:
- Lack of appetite.
- Difficulty urinating.
- Whining due to discomfort.
- Presence of lesions on the penis.
- Constant licking of the affected area.
- Abnormal, pus- or blood-tinged discharge. This causes your dog to smell like period blood.
Both balanitis and balanoposthitis could be caused by:
- Contaminants, e.g., foreign bodies.
- Overgrowth of bacteria in the area.
- Viral, parasitic, or fungal infections.
- Neoplasia in their penis or prepuce.
#7: Yeast infection
You hold your pooch up, eye-level with you.
You notice that their skin has this peculiar texture against your palms.
Then, you take a whiff of them and…
“What is that smell? And what’s happening to your skin?” you ask your pooch.
Let me answer for them:
Your pup could be experiencing a condition called a yeast infection.
It’s a skin disease that’s caused by the increased amount of yeast in the skin.
According to PetMD, it causes your dog’s skin to be:
This condition also causes your dog to itch the affected area uncontrollably.
It can occur anywhere in your dog’s body.
However, some areas are more susceptible to homing this infection.
It often manifests in moist skin folds. That’s why wrinkly dog breeds are more prone to this condition.
Check these areas and how each is affected:
|Ears||This is the most common. Their ears will smell sweet or musty. The hair in the ears will appear to be matted. There will also be a brown discharge coming from the ear.|
|Face||It’s usually present around the mouth area. The itchiness will cause your dog to rub their face against surfaces.|
|Paws||Your dog could be licking their paws in this situation. A brown discharge could also be seen in their nail beds.|
#8: They’re eating waste
Fido smells like period blood because they may have eaten poop.
It grosses dog parents out, but poop-eating is common for dogs.
The term for this is called coprophagia.
Here are 5 facts from experts regarding this behavior:
Fact #1: Dogs are more drawn to hard stools.
Fact #2: This behavior is more common in a multi-dog household.
- For a single-dog home, 19% of the dogs are stool eaters.
- For a two-dog home, it’s found that 24% of the dogs are likely to eat waste.
- In a three-dog home, a dog is more likely to be a stool eater. It’s found that 30% of the subjects are so.
Fact #3: Female canines are more likely to eat poop (see ‘Why do dogs eat poop?’ section).
Fact #4: Dogs want fresh poop. 92% of poop-eating dogs prefer something that’s 1 to 2 days old.
Fact #5: 85% of poop-eaters don’t eat their own feces.
Those facts aside, there might be still a burning question in you:
Why do dogs eat poop?
|It’s innate for a mother dog||For female nursing dogs, they have to maintain their den clean. With that, they tend to eat the poop of their young. That might be why female dogs are more likely to eat poop.|
|Poop tastes good for them||Dogs eat other animals’ poop because it tastes good for them. There’s a little nutritional value to other animals’ poop. However, it’s still not encouraged as some stools contain harmful bacteria.|
|Attention-seeking||In their puppyhood, they might think that eating poop is a game. It’s because whenever you clean their poop, you engage with them. And so, your dog has carried the behavior into adulthood to seek your attention.|
|Feeling ill||Illness can be associated with this behavior. Namely in these parts of the body:|
|Anxiety||In this situation, poop-eating is a displacement behavior. That means that the behavior is out of context and sudden.|
|Fear of punishment||This is another cause from their puppyhood. As a puppy, your dog has learned that defecating in the house is wrong. And so, they eat poop to avoid your punishment.|
#9: Periodontal disease
That smell may indicate a dental problem in your dog.
A specific dental disease that causes this smell could be periodontal disease.
It’s a condition that affects your dog’s gums, teeth, and bones.
It’s due to a bacterial infection. Plaque buildup in your pup’s teeth is to blame.
That’s why it can even lead to tooth loss.
Note: It’s a widespread disease in dogs.
Take it from this study where 84% of dogs older than 3 years old have it.
Now, how about the symptoms?
It’s only when the condition is advanced will the clinical signs present themselves.
Additionally, those symptoms differ from each stage of the condition:
|Stage 1||This stage is usually the period of gingivitis.|
– Bad breath.
– Red and swollen gums.
– Bleeding of gums during chewing.
|Stage 2||The tooth loses about 25% of its supporting structures.|
– Gums may or may not start to recede.
– All the symptoms mentioned in stage 1.
|Stage 3||Moderate to severe bone loss would be evident on x-rays. In this stage, 25% to 50% of the tooth’s support is gone.|
– Loose teeth.Moderate gum recession.
– All the symptoms mentioned in stage 1.
|Stage 4||This is the stage where your dog will start losing their teeth. |
– The root of the tooth is exposed.
– Pus will start to ooze around their teeth.
Warning: Stage 1 (gingivitis) is the only reversible period of this disease.
There will also be behavioral changes in your dog. Some examples are:
- Smacking their gums.
- Reluctance to play with chew toys.
- Hesitancy to have their teeth brushed.
- Pulling away from you whenever you try to check their teeth.
Further reading: Why Does My Dog Suddenly Have Bad Breath? 9 Reasons & Tips
Megaesophagus is referred to as the enlargement of the esophagus. With that, its primary function of transporting food is interrupted.
That transportation is called motility. And in this condition, it’s either food motility is decreased or completely stopped.
Here are the symptoms for megaesophagus:
- Weight loss.
- Weakened muscles due to starvation.
- Bulging of the esophagus on their neck.
- Bad breath, which, sometimes, causes your dog to smell like period blood.
According to vets, it’s either your dog is born with it, or they developed the condition.
Furthermore, VCA Hospital tells us that some breeds are predisposed to megaesophagus. These breeds are:
- Irish setter.
- Great dane.
- German shepherd.
- Labrador retriever.
- Miniature schnauzers.
#11: They’re a smelly breed
Some dogs produce more oil than others. That’s why some breeds are more prone to being smelly.
Remember: The oilier the coat, the smellier.
Some examples of dogs with oily coats:
- Basset hounds.
- Labrador retrievers.
- Alaskan malamutes.
- Chesapeake bay retrievers.
As I also mentioned in reason #7, wrinkly dogs are more prone to yeast buildup. That’s because they have a lot of folds in their skins.
Those folds are the culprit for accumulating bacteria and oil.
Some examples of wrinkly dogs are:
- French bulldogs.
- English bulldogs.
- Xoloitzcuintlis, more commonly known as Xolos.
What should I do if my dog smells like period blood? 3 tips
#1: Have them assessed and treated
As the majority of the reasons are health-related, veterinary help is needed.
In this tip, I’ll talk about things to expect in your dog’s vet visit.
Anal gland problem
If your dog is showing signs of this problem, seek a vet’s help immediately.
Once the vet confirms that this is indeed the case, Fido shall proceed to treatment.
Your pup will have to have their anal sacs emptied.
In case of an infection, the vet will prescribe antibiotics.
Not only will your dog smell like period blood, but their urine also has a strong smell.
You’ll also notice that your pup is struggling due to the discomfort.
With that, it’s best to get your pup checked.
The vet will ask for a urinalysis.
As I mentioned in reason #2, not all UTIs are the same in dogs. That’s why the vet could send your pup’s sample to the laboratory.
In the laboratory, the sample will be grown. Culturing will identify the specific bacteria to blame.
Knowing the right bacteria is crucial to know the right antibiotic to prescribe.
If this case is confirmed, the doctor will suggest surgery.
They will have to remove your pup’s uterus and ovaries.
The process will be like spaying your dog, but more complicated.
After surgery, antibiotics will be prescribed.
Your pup will need to be hospitalized for this one. They will need to be under fluid therapy and antibiotics.
If a severe infection occurs, your canine will be treated for shock, too.
You must have your dog send a urine sample to a vet.
Once identified, the vet will create a precise treatment for your pooch’s condition. It revolves around the usage of antibiotics and vaginal douche.
Identifying the specific situation is necessary. That’s because treatment should depend on a dog’s individual needs and situation.
MSD Vet Manual gives us an insight of treatments to expect:
- Cutting the hair around the prepuce and keeping it short.
- Flushing the cavity around the prepuce with a mild antiseptic or saline solution.
- If infection occurs, antibiotic ointment will need to be applied to the prepuce. This treatment usually takes 7 to 10 days.
The treatment for this infection will depend on the location:
Antifungal drops or ointment is needed.
Cleaning the ear will be essential, too.
If the case is severe or difficult to treat, oral antifungal medications are needed.
Skin and paws
Your pup will have to use antifungal wipes, sprays, creams or shampoos.
In case of a severe infection, the vet will prescribe oral antifungal medications.
Since there are 4 stages of this disease, treatment will vary:
|Stage 1||Your dog will not need any treatment at this stage. The only advice is to clean your dog’s teeth and mouth regularly.|
|Stage 2||Professional teeth cleaning will need to be done on your dog.|
There may be abnormal periodontal pockets on your dog’s teeth. If the vet spots one, they will apply an antibiotic gel to close it.
|Stage 3||Advanced restorative procedures will need to be performed.|
Plus, detailed and well-crafted dental hygiene is suggested.
|Stage 4||The only treatment in this stage is extraction. The tooth is under severe infection and there’s no other way to save it.|
The treatment for this condition will depend on the underlying cause.
Regardless, there is one goal:
To prevent vomiting and allow the food to go to your dog’s GI tract. There, the food will be digested. Therefore, your pup will receive the right nutrients.
To do that, necessary conditions should be met. A dog with megaesophagus needs:
- High-calorie diet.
- A Bailey chair for eating (it looks like a highchair).
- A specific consistency of food. It depends on your dog’s ability and condition.
#2: Remain hygienic
Your pup’s dental health is an integral part of their general well-being.
With that, you must take care of their teeth, mouth, and gums.
Here are tips to help you care for your dog’s dental health:
- The best way is to take them for professional teeth cleaning.
- Regularly brush your dog’s teeth. Vets advise a minimum of 3 times per week.
- Give them a toy that cleans their teeth. Like this teething treat ball that can help lessen plaque buildup.
- Provide them with dog dental treats. It will help improve their dental health. Plus, they get to enjoy the snack. Pedigree’s DENTASTIX is a staple dental treat!
Their skin’s health
For your dog, it’s not a problem if they smell bad. They probably don’t even know that they smell terrible.
On the other hand, you’re appalled by your pooch’s terrible smell.
What to do?
Bathe your dog regularly!
Yes, as simple as that.
To help you even further, you should consult your pup’s vet.
Don’t hesitate to tell them that your doggo stinks.
Be clear that even after bathing, your pup already smells bad.
With that, the vet could advise you what kinds of soaps and shampoos to use.
#3: Stop them from eating waste
To stop your pup from eating waste, you have to maintain environmental control.
You’d also have to train them properly,
Here are the specific things that you should do:
- Watch your dog whenever you go on a walk.
- Keep your place free of poop as much as possible.
- If you own a cat, keep the litter box out of your dog’s reach.
- Train them by telling them “no!” or “leave it.” If they leave the stool alone, give them a treat. This exercise encourages your dog to run to you for a snack.
This one recommendation is what dog parents and vets stand for:
It’s adding a poop-eating deterrent to your dog’s food.
This deterrent makes your dog’s poop less appealing to be eaten.
Note: If only 1 dog in your multi-dog household shows this behavior, treat the others, too.
Let all your dogs have that deterrent. It’s to make sure that every poop in your household is disgusting for your poop-eating pup.
Here’s a poop-eating deterrent for your dog to save you some clicks. It also helps you aid their bad breath. No more smelling like period blood.