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Why does my dog smell different when sleeping?

Why does my dog smell different when sleeping?

A dog’s glands produce natural odors. These glands are found around the nose, ears, paw pads, and anal area. Other odors are caused by environmental contaminants or diseases. For some reason, dogs tend to smell worse when they are sleeping, and you may be wondering why. We’ve gathered the facts on why dogs smell different when they sleep.

Why does my dog smell different when sleeping?

If you notice your dog having a different smell when she is sleeping, I’m sure you’d like to know why, and there are essentially two main reasons why you might smell your dog more when she is sleeping.

Your dog is still and in closer proximity to you.

You probably notice the fact that your dog smells different during sleep more at night than when she naps during the day. During the day, your dog is up and roaming around. She is playing, killing time, and investigating her surroundings, so she is likely seldom in one spot, so you aren’t likely to notice any odor she may be giving off.

At bedtime, she settles in one spot, and when you are in closer proximity to her, it only stands to reason that you would smell her body odor more than you would during the daytime when she is up and about.

There are fewer odors in the air to compete with her bodily smells.

During the daytime, all kinds of things are happening. You are likely cooking, cleaning, working, and possibly even doing crafts, so all types of smells are likely to fill the air. However, at night, when your dog lies down to go to sleep, all the activities of the day are over.

The aromas of different foods have dissipated. The smell of the bathroom disinfectant has gone away, and the odor of hot glue has disappeared. All that’s left are the odors that your smelly dog is emitting. 

Is it normal for a dog to smell different when sleeping?

It is not unusual at all for your dog to smell bad when sleeping, because bad smells can emanate from more than one of a dog’s body parts.


Your dog can smell due to sweat released through the glands in her paws on a hot day. Moist paws create the perfect breeding ground, allowing bacteria and fungus to grow wildly, causing terrible odors. It can even cause an increased risk of infection.


Your dog could have a smelly coat. A dog’s coat can accumulate dirt and simply need a bath, or she may even suffer from a skin condition. Seborrhea is a skin condition in dogs that causes oils and dandruff to accumulate on the skin and coat. This oiliness builds up in the ears, on the stomach, and around the armpits, elbows, and ankles, causing an offensive odor. Seborrhea, in some canine breeds, is inherited, but it can also be caused by a dietary deficiency, an allergy, a parasite, or autoimmune or endocrine disorders.


Your dog’s bad smell may be emanating from her ears. Ear infections make a dog’s ears smell badly, and they are common in floppy-eared dogs.


Of course, bad smells can also emanate from your dog’s anus. Flatulence (passing gas) in dogs is caused by eating foods containing dietary fiber, lactose intolerance, a diet too high in fat, or even certain medications. Flatulence happens more often during sleep, as the muscles are relaxed.

Why does my dog smell like fish when sleeping?

Dogs can acquire many various smells, most of which are not very pleasant, but one of the worst is when they smell “fishy”.

What are anal glands?

Anal glands, also known as anal sacs, are sacs found on either side of a dog’s anus. These small sacs are filled with sweat glands specially made to produce offensive smelling secretions that serve as scent markers for a dog. When your dog poops, the anal glands secrete liquid onto the feces, passing on chemical information about your dog that can be read by another dog who sniffs his waste.

This is one explanation of why dogs are so interested in each other’s excrements, as well as why they like to sniff each other’s tail area. Dogs secrete these sacs when scared, and this secretion is known to have a distinct smell — a fishy smell. If your dog is chronically smelling fishy, there could be something wrong with her anal glands.

If you are having a problem with a fishy-smelling dog, cleansing and deodorizing anal gland hygienic wipes and anal gland support supplements with probiotics are available to help with the problem.

What is anal sac disease?

Anal sac disease is an umbrella term that’s used to describe essentially all anal gland issues. It is quite common, especially among small canine breeds, but giant dog breeds are largely unaffected. Here are some examples of anal sac disease.


Normally, as your dog poops, she expresses small amounts of liquid from her anal sacs. However, sometimes, when the anal sacs do not get completely emptied, the area inside the sac can become impacted. Impacted anal sacs are not able to secrete their fluids properly, and this can be terribly painful for your dog.

When this happens, the anal sacs will feel hard to the touch. A veterinarian can express the anal sacs manually, and when this is done in a dog with an impaction, the sac will produce a ribbon or brown material that is thin and pasty. An untreated anal sac impaction can turn into an abscess.

There can be more than one reason for an impaction. Your dog could simply have an abnormality in her anal sacs. A soft stool could fail to be firm enough to express her anal glands when she poops. Obese dogs are at a higher risk of impacted anal glands than normal, healthy dogs, as the excess weight keeps their sacs from emptying correctly.

Infections and Abscesses

Anal glands can get infected, too, and to reiterate, they can even become abscessed if not treated when unhealthy. Anal sacs that are infected, or especially those that are abscessed, will be terribly painful for your dog. The anal area will likely appear swollen or discolored, and if left untreated, abscesses have been known to rupture through a dog’s skin.

A dog with an abscess needs antibiotics and pain medication, possibly even surgery, so consult your veterinarian immediately if you think your dog may have an abscessed anal sac.

Anal Sac Tumors

A tumor in your dog’s anal gland will limit your dog’s ability to empty her own anal glands. If she has a tumor in her anal gland, her anal gland will feel enlarged and firm. Most of the time, anal sacs harboring tumors won’t express at all. If you think your dog may have an anal sac tumor, have your veterinarian take a biopsy and do an ultrasound.

What are the symptoms of anal sac disease?

A fishy odor is not the only symptom of anal sac disease. If your dog is plagued with anal sac disease, you may notice her scooting on the floor, licking or biting at her anus, or having trouble pooping. They may even cry out when trying to poop because it is so painful.

You may be able to feel a hard lump close to the rectum, and you may notice pus or blood on your dog’s stool. Any discoloration around the anus is a sign that you should alert and seek the advice of your vet immediately. If your dog suffers from obesity, allergies, skin mites, hypothyroidism, or yeast or bacterial infections of the skin, she is at an increased risk of anal sac disease.

What to do if my dog smells different when sleeping?

So your dog smells different while she is sleeping, and it is really bothering you. There are some things you can do for your dog if she smells. Here are some tips.

What can I do to keep my dog from smelling fishy?

If your dog smells fishy, you’re probably dealing with an anal sac (anal gland) issue, and it is a good idea to contact your veterinarian and schedule an appointment for an evaluation immediately. She may just need her anal glands emptied manually, but there may be a deeper issue.

Anal Sac Expressing

Many small breed dogs need to have their anal glands emptied manually on a regular basis. Most groomers and vets will perform this service for you, and if you can take the smell, you can learn to do it yourself. Be aware, though, that doing this too often can cause swelling and scar tissue, so it’s best if it’s only done when they are not emptying sufficiently on their own.

Softening Agents

An impacted anal sac will have to be manually expressed. If the anal sac is extremely dry, then your vet may use a saline rinse or another softening agent to aid in passing the impacted material.

High Fiber Diet

Once the impacted material is cleared out, a diet high in dietary fiber may be prescribed for your dog, as such a diet will aid her in being able to express her anal sacs naturally.

Anal Gland Wipes

There are anal gland wipes on the market for cleaning and disinfecting the anal area.


Anal sacs that are infected or abscessed are cleaned with an antiseptic or anal gland wipe and treated with antibiotics. Your vet may also recommend a hot compress applied to the anal sac area for an abscess. The abscessed anal sac may have to be flushed several times for the infection to resolve itself.


In extreme cases, the anal sac(s) are surgically removed. If the anal sac disease does not heal with treatment, or if the tumor does not subside, surgical removal is the usual method of treatment. While complications like incontinence are possible, most cases are complication-free and have no negative impact on a dog’s quality of life.

Anal Gland Supplements

Anal gland support supplements with probiotics are also on the market. They are meant to keep the digestive system and anal glands moving correctly.

What can I do to keep my dog from smelling like corn chips?

If your dog’s paws smell like corn chips, it’s nothing unusual. It comes from bacteria called Proteus and Pseudomonas. They give off an odor like yeast that smells like Fritos.

When should I worry about my dog smelling like corn chips?

Dogs travel around on their paws picking up all types of dirt and debris, and this is only an issue when there is an open sore on the paw or your pet is in poor health or is immunocompromised. In these cases, your dog’s feet are a breeding ground for infection. Signs, other than an offensive odor, that your dog’s paws may not be healthy are inflammation, discharge, or an open wound that won’t heal.

If your pet shows any of these signs, take her to visit your vet immediately. Pay close attention to your dog’s paws if she has a recent injury to her paw(s). An infection that goes untreated can turn into an emergency and cause permanent damage to your dog.

What can I do to keep my dog’s feet from smelling like corn chips?

The number one thing you need to do to take care of that corn chip smell and your dog’s feet is to keep her paws clean. You should bathe her regularly, and pay special attention to the area between the paw pads. When your dog’s feet get wet, dry them off, also paying attention to the area between the paw pads.

You should keep your dog’s coat trimmed short on the feet and paws, so they will accumulate less dirt and debris. Wash off your dog’s feet after being outside and carefully dry them off, paying attention to the area between the paw pads. When it’s not too hot, consider using dog booties to keep your dog from getting her paws dirty or injured.

Why does my dog smell better after waking up?

If your dog seems to smell better after waking up, it’s probably because she is back up and moving around, so that you are not able to focus on her smell as well. There is no other reason, really, why she would smell better after waking up. Maybe your dog is unusual. You never know. Whatever smell your dog has that’s the problem, you love her, so you will figure it out. If you can’t, just consult your veterinarian who can help you pinpoint what is going on.