Why Does My Dog Smell Like Metal?

By John Martin - July 11, 2022

Beagle sitting on sofa

Dogs are smelly creatures. However, if they start smelling like iron or metal, then this can become a cause for concern and can imply some other underlying issue that you might need to take care of.

Here, you can go through some potential causes of this kind of smell and what you should do to deal with it. Let’s begin!

Potential Causes

There are numerous reasons that could end up causing your dog to smell like iron or metal. Let’s see what some of these are.

Dental Issues

Some kind of dental issue can be a significant reason for a metallic smell. While dental infections, bacteria and gum issues don’t usually smell metallic, some situations in which bleeding or rotting occurs might lead to this sort of smell.

Sometimes, if the gum is too infected, this might lead to this kind of smell as well.

Bleeding can also occur during the process of teething when it comes to your puppy, so this is usually not something you should be too concerned about as long as there is not an excessive amount of pain involved.

In case of such dental issues, make sure you consult your vet to see if they provide some medication or if your dog needs surgery.

External Object

In many situations, your dog might simply be chewing on an external object that such as a bone, hide or toy that might be leading to this sort of smell, especially if there are some remnants of these objects in their mouth or body.

For instance, many objects might be rough and hard, leading to bleeding or cuts in the mouth that might be responsible for the smell.

Furthermore, if they were rolling around in something outdoors or fighting with another animal and got some kind of blood stuck on them, this might cause this smell too. Make sure you check for wounds or injuries on their bodies to ensure that they are safe.

Clean them up and apply safe ointment. You might also need to visit the vet in case of serious injuries and excessive bleeding.

Bleeding

Bleeding can be external or internal. External bleeding through injuries, wounds or scratches might be easier to identify and treat, even if your dog ends up needing stitches or dressing from the vet.

Internal bleeding, on the other hand, might leave you confused about where the iron-like or metallic smell is coming from. This kind of internal bleeding might take place in the stomach or respiratory system, so look out for symptoms apart from the smell, such as digestive issues, breathing troubles, nausea, diarrhea and others.

Your dog might even become lethargic and weak and stand at risk of collapsing, so make sure you visit the vet immediately so that you can get the issue sorted out and treated.

Kidney Problems

A kidney problem can be another potential reason for the metallic smell coming from your dog. In particular, kidney failure can lead to this kind of smell due to the accumulation of toxins and other wastes in the kidneys.

Your dog might also end up facing trouble urinating or might even urinate too frequently, further increasing the strength of the iron or metallic smell.

Some other signs you should look out for here include lethargy, dehydration, fatigue, weight loss and reduced appetite.

If you notice such symptoms, make sure to immediately take your dog to the vet, who will then carry out a urinalysis along with several other tests and examinations before recommending a specific kind of treatment.

Also Read: 13 Simple and Effective Home Remedies for Dog Scooting

Ulcers

Ulcers can be another major source of the iron or metal-like smell that your dog might be emitting. These ulcers could either be present in the mouth, the respiratory tract or even in the stomach.

The redness and bleeding from these ulcers can often make their way out through the excreta or they might end up as a foul smell from your dog’s breath. In some severe cases, you might even notice some blood in your dog’s poop or urine.

If only present in the mouth, the ulcers should heal on their own within a couple of days or more. If they last too long or are present anywhere else, your vet will be able to help your dog out.

Skin Infection

Skin infections can be a major source of this smell. If your dog has some yeast or bacterial or other kinds of fungal infection on the skin, this could very well determine where the smell is coming from.

In particular, some kinds of bacterial infections might include excreta from other organisms and animals. Other kinds of infections might also come about due to allergies or dust and debris from the environment.

You can easily prevent this kind of skin infection as long as you take proper care of your dog. Groom, clean, brush and bathe them regularly and make sure you also deal with the knots and tough spots.

Use soap that suits them and does not end up itching them even more.

Urinary Tract Infection

Urinary tract infections can lead to bleeding and emit an iron or metal-like smell. Such infections in the tract or in the genitalia can create plenty of pain, irritation and discomfort in your dog.

Look out for blood in your dog’s urine. Some other symptoms and signs can also help you identify this issue.

For instance, if your dog is lethargic, fatigued, dehydrated, has trouble peeing or keeps licking the genitals, then this might indicate an infection. The frequency with which your dog pees during such a time can also be an indicator.

You should visit the vet immediately in such a situation.

Anal Gland Issues

One of the main reasons for your dog smelling like iron or metal is because of problems in the anal glands. Dogs have two sacs or pouches on either side of the anus that contain and emit fluids and smells that can help them convey and mark their territories.

Bowels can also lead to this fluid and smell being emitted. While this is normal, a metallic smell might indicate an infection or disease in the anal glands.

The Problem

If the anal glands or sacs become impacted, this means that the fluids are still in the sacs and are, for some reason, not emptying out. This can lead to inflammation and swelling due to the thickening of the secretions from the glands.

This is what leads to the iron-like or metallic smell from the dog, since the fluid might develop infections and lead to bleeding. This smell is not the only issue; your dog might end up feeling a lot of pain and discomfort too.

Causes

There can be many causes or pre-existing risk factors that might lead to this kind of anal gland disease. Some of these include the following:

  • Obesity
  • Allergies (to certain foods and substances)
  • Diarrhea
  • Yeast or bacteria present in or entering the sacs
  • Old age that can lead to joint pain, arthritis and inflammation
  • Tumors or muscle swelling that can block the gland opening
  • Physical deformities or abnormalities
  • Skin mites or insects

One or more of these causes is usually enough to create a problem.

Also Read: Why Does My Dog Have Diarrhea at Night?

Prevention

It is possible to prevent such an issue from occurring in the first place. For instance, you can:

  • Give your dog enough exercise and a diet that can help them lose weight.
  • Feed your dog healthy food and make sure to do so regularly. Include enough fiber in the diet.
  • Clean, brush and groom your dog regularly so that you can prevent infections in the first place.
  • In case your dog has allergies, identify them early on and figure out ways to manage them well.

Symptoms

Apart from this metallic smell, some other symptoms that can help you identify the problem or determine that something is wrong include:

  • Biting
  • Excessive licking of the tail or surrounding parts
  • Dragging their rears against surfaces
  • Bleeding
  • Pus
  • Difficulty sitting
  • Swelling and inflammation
  • Chewing
  • Barking, growling or howling more than usual
  • Difficulty defecating
  • Discharge

Treatment

Make sure you take your dog to the vet as soon as you notice the smell along with any of these other symptoms. Your vet will diagnose the issue, and if it is anal sac disease, they will need to empty out the sac by flushing out the fluid. Surgery might be necessary too.

In such cases, your dog might need a sedative or anesthetic considering that it can cause a bit of pain. If the issue is not too severe, however, the vet might provide medication like antibiotics and other ointments along with painkillers.

Also Read: Puppy Acne 101: Everything You Need to Know

Parting Remarks

Your dog might smell like iron or metal due to reasons like external objects, dental problems, kidney failure, ulcers, urinary tract infections, skin infections, bleeding or, most commonly, anal gland diseases.

If you notice this smell along with some other symptoms, it might be best to take your dog to the vet so that they can identify the case and suggest further treatment.