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Why does my dog smell like burnt hair/rubber?

We love our pooches, but sometimes, they stink. You are probably familiar with the infamous wet dog smell. You may have encountered horrifying halitosis, or bad breath. These are easy to understand, but why does your dog smell like burnt hair or rubber? 

Why does my dog smell like burnt hair/rubber?

Your dog could smell like burnt hair or rubber for several reasons. The good news is, it’s rarely a sign of something serious. However, it is certainly a problem you want to solve as quickly as possible. 

Skunk Spray

The most common cause of a dog smelling like burnt rubber is skunk spray. Skunks have a very distinctive odor. Skunk spray is high in sulfur, which causes it to smell like rotten eggs. 

However, when your dog is sprayed, the smell can change slightly. Why isn’t exactly clear. Perhaps it’s your dog’s hormones or other smell that blends with the skunk spray. 

Many owners say that eventually the smell transforms to a classic skunk smell. 

In addition to the smell, skunk spray can cause some distressing symptoms. These include vomiting, drooling, red eyes, sneezing, and temporary blindness. 

Some owners fear their dog has gotten into a dangerous chemical. They rush them to the vet, only to find they were skunk sprayed. Spraying is a skunk’s method of defense, and it can cause irritation to your dog’s eyes, nose, and respiratory tract. 

Anal Glands

Your dog has an anal gland on each side of their butt. These glands are typically expressed when they poop. However, they can become too full. This makes them difficult for your dog to express. 

It is also very uncomfortable for them. You may notice them dragging their butt on the floor in an attempt to get relief. They may also lick the area frequently. 

Anal glands have a strong smell, which can resemble burnt hair or rubber. The smell can also be fishy. You may notice swelling in the area as well. 


If your dog snacks on poop, they have corgophobia. This is often a psychological issue. Stress, anxiety, or boredom can cause your dog to eat their poop, or the poop of other dogs. It can also occur if your dog has a digestive or liver disease.  

Corgophobia can cause your dog’s breath to smell like burnt hair or rubber. 

Near fire 

It’s also possible that you are actually smelling burnt hair or rubber. If your pooch was near a fire, they may get a smoky or burnt hair smell. It’s illegal to burn rubber in most places, but this doesn’t always stop people from doing it. In addition to rubber items like tires, other types of trash can produce a burnt rubber smell. 

If your pooch is near this type of fire, the smell will get onto their coat. The smell will linger on their coat, causing it to smell. It’s also possible that your pooch managed to get their hair singed. This will also produce a burnt hair smell.

Skin Infection 

You might be  surprised to know that skin infections can also cause this type of smell. A bacterial or fungal infection can cause a smell of burnt hair or rubber. 

This type of infection can be caused by an injury like a cut or scrape. Allergies are another common culprit. Allergies cause irritations and breaks in the skin, which make them more susceptible to infection. A weakened immune system due to disease can also make them more likely to get an infection. 

What to do if my dog smells like burnt hair/rubber?

If your pooch smells like burnt hair or rubber, how to fix it will vary based on the underlying cause. Your pooch may just need a bath, or a more involved treatment. 

Skunk Spray

If your dog was skunk sprayed, avoid allowing them inside if possible. The smell will transfer from their coat to your home. If you must, toss a towel over them before allowing them in, and lead them directly to the bathroom. 

The best method for getting rid of skunk spray is a special mix of ingredients you already have in your home. These are 1/4 cup baking soda, 2 teaspoons of mild dishwashing liquid like dawn, and 1 quart of hydrogen peroxide. 

Mix all the ingredients together into a bucket. Rub the mixture onto your dog, and allow it to sit for at least five minutes. Rinse, and wash again with dog shampoo if desired. 

The peroxide can bleach your dog’s coat, particularly if your dog has dark hair. However, it will only be a cosmetic issue, and causes no harm to your pooch. Be sure to keep it away from your dog’s eyes. 

If your pooch is vomiting, can’t see, or seems to be in distress, it’s best to take your stinky pooch to the vet. It is possible for dogs to have a severe reaction to skunk spray, particularly if they were sprayed in the face. 

Anal Glands 

If anal glands are causing the stink, they need to be expressed. To express them yourself, you’ll need to insert your ring finger and thumb into their anus. 

Find the anal glands, at 4 and 8 o’clock, and gently squeeze them between your fingers. If you aren’t comfortable doing this, your vet will happily do it for you. 

Once the anal glands are expressed, the discomfort and smell should go away. Be sure to clean away any fluid that got onto your dog. 


If your pooch is eating poop, there are some steps you can take. Brushing their teeth can help get rid of the smell. Supervise them when they use the bathroom, so you can prevent them from eating their poop. 

You can add meat tenderizer or canned pumpkin to their food. These items make their poop taste bad to them. 

Be sure that they are getting plenty of exercise and mental stimulation. If they are anxious, you may need to work with your vet or an animal behavioralist.  

Skin Infection 

If you suspect a skin infection, you’ll need to visit the vet. They will examine your pooch. Infections are typically treated with a topical medication or oral medication.  

Near Fire 

If your pooch picked up the smell from a fire, a good bath should suffice. Add some baking soda to the dog shampoo to help deodorize their fur.

If they still have a smell, you may need to wash them again. After their bath, the smell should be better, if not gone completely. If it’s not, there’s likely another cause for the smell.