My dog smells bad AND has itchy skin

dog pitbull cute

by Audrey Harvey

Dogs with a normal healthy skin and coat don’t smell offensive, and they don’t itch. If your dog smells awful, has a greasy coat and is constantly scratching, it means there is something very wrong.

In many cases, the problem is a fungus called Malassezia. This little yeast organism is responsible for skin infections that are especially itchy, smelly and greasy to the touch.

Diagnosis and Treatment

It’s not hard to diagnose Malassezia infection on your dog’s skin. Your veterinarian will apply some sticky tape to his skin, and gently peel it off, picking up some yeast organisms in the process. He will be able to identify the organisms under the microscope.

There are several options for treatment, depending on the severity of the infection. If it is only a small problem, you may be able to control it by regularly bathing your dog in an anti-fungal shampoo and applying an anti-fungal ointment. More severe cases need to be treated with anti-fungal tablets.

Where does Malassezia Come From?

Small numbers of Malassezia live on the skin of all dogs, and neither you or your dog notice any effects. Before they can cause skin problems, there needs to be a change to the surface of the skin that allows them to grow and multiply. Large quantities of yeast on the skin result in the familiar musty odor and itch.

Malassezia seems to enjoy oily skin, and any condition that increases oil production will also increase the numbers of yeast on the skin. The most common condition is an allergic reaction, however dogs with seborrhea will also have increased oil production, and a secondary Malassezia infection.

There are some less common predisposing causes. Some dogs have a deficiency in their immune system, which allows Malassezia to multiply, and others are allergic to the yeast. If this is the case you should start your dog on immune boosting supplements.

Dogs with hormonal conditions such as hypothyroidism are also  predisposed to Malassezia overgrowth.The end result is the same – lots of yeast, itchy skin, dreadful odor and a greasy coat.

Fortunately, Malassezia infections aren’t contagious, but it can take a bit of work to clear them up.

Prevention is Best

Because Malassezia infection is secondary to some underlying skin problem, the only way to stop it recurring is to identify and control that underlying cause. Your veterinarian can help you with this, and your dog may need blood tests and allergy tests to get to the bottom of it.

In the meantime, the oatmeal in Comfy Dog Oatmeal shampoo for dry & itchy skin will soothe your dog’s skin inflammation, and ease his itch. Because it rinses clean, it won’t leave any residue on his skin, and it will leave him smelling minty fresh. Follow it up with Fur Butter leave in conditioner for longer term itch control. It leaves the coat soft and silky and has a lot of colloidal oatmeal to deal with the itchy skin.

If you notice any areas where your dog is particularly itchy, tackle them with Itchin’ for Relief. This all natural spray will quickly ease his itch and stop him scratching. It also contains Onion Bulb Extract which will help prevent any fungal infection.

It can be hard work, but if you control your dog’s underlying skin condition, and care for his skin and coat with Comfy Dog shampoo and Fur Butter, the Malassezia won’t have the opportunity to multiply. This means no yeast infection, no itchy skin and no smelly dog. It’s worth the effort.

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  1. My dog has itchy, dry, flaky skin which she scratches at constantly. I have tried the oatmeal shampoo but it hasn’t seemed to help the problem. We switched her back to her normal lamb & rice dog food. I have tried oil treatments and it seems to help with the dry skin now but she still smells awful on her hindend area and still scratching. It is red in some areas. I cannot afford a high vet bill at this moment. Any recommendations would be grateful so I can help her.
    Thank you

    1. Please try an all natural neem shampoo for dogs. Works wonders.

    2. For just dandruff/dry skin I put olive oil in my dogs food. She’s 60 pounds and I use a tablespoon, roughly, with her morning and evening feedings. It helps loads! Good luck.

    3. Hello i have tried maleseb medicated shampoo from vet please use it it works it controls the bacteria it is a treatment so you will have to bath dog 2 or 3 times a week and also probiotics i have included in his meals and have included yogurt for his gut he could have a yeast infection

      Ill keep in touch i also gotta get rid of that dreadful smell

      1. How did you get on as its been two months?

        1. DO NOT Bath your dog with an oatmeal shampoo. Wash with tea tree or peppermint shampoo. Rinse with water vinegar/peroxide and feed a sugar/wheat free diet. Yeast love sugar and carbs and the areas need to be treated. See it was very helpful and she’s not trying to sell products.

  2. Hi, my dog does have this! He’s been on the anti fungal pills twice and it helps until the pills are done and then it comes right back I’m going to try the shampoo, conditioner and spray. Idk what the cause of this is tho, and my vet didn’t really know. Could it be his dog food? We usually just get a big bag of the cheap stuff from Walmart, should we maybe switch to a better food?

    1. Lindsay:

      Please switch! If you’re one of the millions of Americans who refuses to believe that your animal friends deserve to eat a diet similar to that of their wild counterparts, then by all means; feed your dog a diet of rancid, over preprocessed, chemically preserved hard chalky waste.

      Alternatively, if you love your pet, please notice that 90% of a wild dog’s diet consists of meat; typically fresh and raw! Now take a peek at your bag of kibbles’ ingredient list. Is the first ingredient meat? What about the second or third? Quality dog foods are made primarily of meat – not grain!

      If you really want your dog to love you, feed it a natural raw diet with a hearty balance of bones, organ meat, fatty tissue, and raw flesh. It made me squeamish to think about feeding my baby that way, so I began preparing extra meat at meal times and feeding my miniature schnauzer a 90% meat diet.

      Now my husband feeds him raw alongside his large breed dogs. My little fuzzy snuggle muffin is a wild 15lb beast and he’s never been happier! It’s really not that bazaar; I enjoy a juicy rare steak and I’ve been known to eat sushi and sashimi in rather large quantities. If you think your dog’s food might be the issue you should look into information pertaining to dog’s before and after beginning a raw diet; the differences are truly amazing!

      Angela :)

      1. If you aren’t willing to keep your dog on a healthy diet then you don’t deserve a dog. And you talking about your right as an american, you sound like a fucking tool. Yes, you have a right to feed your dog what you like, you also have the right to tie a noose around your neck and kick a stool out from underneath you, why dont you go exercise that right.

        1. Haha I love you!!!!

        2. Wow! Reading some comments from negative people shows the ignorance from their main brain.

          I see that you’re only suggesting to what a dog may need as apposed to what they want….I found it informative and I receive a good and solid advice.

      2. Wow. She’s asking for help and advice, not nasty name calling and judgement. Yuck!

        1. People do suck…anyway. My dog Frankie started having severe allergies about 6-7 years ago and was treated with Prednisone (would NOT recommend, as his liver numbers spiked to over 1000, should have been with the prednisone slightly elevated to about 500). That bad smell you smell is yeast…Frankie acquired that as well.I had him treated for that years ago, which showed up in his ears, very common with Otomax. But this Yeast was all over his body and in between his toes, even byme wiping him down, bathing, getting cortisone for hot spots and herbal remedies. As the vets said it’s like having atheletes foot all over your body. The odor is so strong it’s undeniable. Since taking him to the vet we were told to give him and bath 2x a day for 2 weeks with antibotic shampoo. ell the 2 weeks is up and Frankie has very little relieve. While the smell of yeast is gone, he continues to scratch and bite. We have him on Apoquel which relieves the itchiness better than pumping him full of benedryl which relieved him very little. So a vet visit is needed, to get prescriptions of Apoquel and antibotic shampoo. Don’t worry this shampoo moisturizes the coat and must be worked into the skin (massaged) for 5-10 minutes before rinsing. While the smell has gone away…his suffering with allergies hasnt. Theychecked his thyroid and CBC count and all seems fine. We are off to the vet for further instructions and hopefully I am wrong and it is a food allergy (which we have had him on hydrolized protein food – for a food allergy test for a week now) it has to be at least a month to see any difference

    2. I have switched my dog years ago to expensive food and also feed her real foods as well. She is a fruit and veggie hound. She still has issues with itchy scratchy skin. the only time she did well was when she was on steroids, but that is not healthy for an animal all the time. I have tried yogurt too. Nothing seems to relieve my poor baby.

      1. Let me guess, you are a vegetarian? Your kanine needs meat.I don’t care if you believe that is what your dog prefers. It is not healthy for a dog to live that way at all. What a slow horrible way to kill your dog. You seriously need to feed your dog protein. If you are not animal services should come in and save your dog.

    3. My grandmas dogs (Maltese dog) (Hes very strong.)has the problem and he throws up and I went over there and he looked god. Do yall think we should switch dog foods or use the shampoo and conditioner?

    4. No cheap dog food!!!! Spend the money on a grain free dog food. Read up on the different brands. Natural pet has great options of healthy grain free sugar free foods for your dog.

  3. This problem is actually a heavy metal toxicity issue. Vaccines and kibble pet foods are FULL of metals; light metals like aluminum and heavy metals like mercury. The yeast are heavy metal indicator species and will eat their weight in metals. Kill the yeast and you can release their neurotoxins which include mercury and ethanols. IF you don’t stop the underlying problem you won’t detox the animals and you will still have yeast and heavy metal problems. Feed an appropriate raw food diet and don’t fill them full of unsafe and unnecessary jabs which contain, like I said a lot of unsafe and unnecessary heavy metal exposure.

    1. I have three dogs that have red, itchy skin. They developed it after we moved to our new house, which had three dogs in the back yard previous to us. Our dogs are inside/outside dogs. I thought perhaps it was fleas, but they are now treated with a topical treatment. They all eat species appropriate food (raw meat, organs, bones), which I switched them to last fall. I wish I could say the food helped the skin. Not at all. But I am going to take this advise about keeping the skin clean and look up natural ways to combat yeast…perhaps coconut oil? That is my next quest. :) Good luck to all of us to find what helps our four legged babies!

  4. I have a 7 year old jack Russell/Rat Terrier who was strong as a horse and never needed any medicine or special diet. Until 2 years ago she started to show signs of itchy skin- it would persist to the point that she would be patches in her coat and would bleed. Ive tried every natural oatmeal shampoo and spray possible. My vet even put my dog in a special allergy diet(that cost a fortune) and would not releave her from her constant scratching. I finally was reffered to a special Dermatologist specializing in dog allergies who perfomed an allergy test (that cost 800 dollars) to find out what shes allergic to. Some form of yeast, tick bites, pollen, types of fungus and exc. She perscribed a 3 month duration oral tick medication and a medication that would supposedly help her. My dogs condition comes and goes however what has never gone away from the past 2 years is that bad smell in her coat. Her coat has changed into a smelly one; I bathe her every week but within days of her bath, her coat will be moist/ greasy and smelly. Her Derm has prescirbed her a relief itch shampoo and conditioner that I leave on 10 minutes- but she will still smell within days. I am starting to suspect it may be her food? I am feeding her WellNess small breed kibbles and a mixture of WellNess Wet food. Since my dog is a picky eater,I give her a canned food every other day becuase she would not eat enough with only her kibbles. What should I do? Should I change her diet to Raw meat diet or swithch dog food brands ?

    1. I am dealing with the same thing. My bussels is nine years old and developed this problem a year ago. As soon as we think we have it beat and on the right track, the treatment stops working. We have tried many different things and they work for a month or two. She has been on very expensive Allergy medication and I continue with it because ….well, I don’t know what else to do. My dog is on raw food. I have taken her off of cow and put her on rabbit but nothing makes it better. I’m worried that it may be more of an immune problem.

    2. We have a Jack Russell mix that has the same issue. Been to the allergy vet and she’s on allergy serum but is still a stinky, oily, itchy mess. We’ve tried five or six different high quality grain free dog kibbles but she still smells and is itchy. Let me know if you found something that works!

    3. Do not use oatmeal shampoo on a dog with yeast. It builds up on your dogs skin and really makes the itch and smell worse. Try a shampoo with tea tree oil in it or peppermint. Next after you have rinsed her try a gallon of water with like 20 drops of peppermint oil in it then start at the neck and dump it all over her ,don’t rinse her leave it on and pat dry. The way I have been told with the oatmeal shampoo it doesn’t completely rinse off so you will have a layer of yeast then a layer of the left behind oatmeal shampoo and on and on Everytime you use it.


    1. Make sure the dog food does’ent have corn in it,pit bull’s are allergic to corn.My son has Red nose and blue nose pits,so find out if your food has it in it.

  6. Just a quickie. I and many others have found dermacton products made by aromesse (have a google) to work wonders. They are based in the UK but Im sure they would ship to other countries. I have known people get their dogs off steroids after using these natural shampoo/soap/spray/cream

    100% money back guarantee too if you arent happy. Not a cure but a god send for those of us with dogs who have allergy itching.

    1. My last dog had all the symptoms we went from vet to vet over $6,000 in bills at the end still had the problem some of these veterinarians see you coming with these dogs and these symptoms and you ain’t nothing but a cash cow for them they suggest shampoos different dog food different test all the stuff in the dog is suffering you are suffering and they don’t give a shit they know exactly what’s going on makes me sick this should be a cap on how much they charge you without any diagnosis at the end this asshole had the nerve to suggest euthanizing my poor baby ic euthanize your mother

  7. My dog has been itchy and black underneath for a good two years and we have been treating it with a steroid shot once a month. Last month (October)he was caught by the pound and they wouldn’t release him till he had his rabies shot also that month I changed his food and we also went hunting. His skin is the worse it’s ever been. He now feels moist and very warm to the touch. My vet doesn’t really know what is going on with my poor baby.

    1. My dog improved greatly on Apoquel – hope this helps – safer than steroids

      1. My dog takes Apoquel to and it seems to work as they (the vet) gives me an antibiotic. However they only give me a few days worth of antibiotics and she gets to feeling great after about 3 or 4 days but then here antibiotic runs out 4 days later and here we go again. We’ve tried all the special diets, allergy pills, shampoos and steroid/antibiotic combo and nothing but the latter has helped and unfortunately it’s too harmful to stay on for long periods.
        Her skin is always red, itchy, dry with sores, but she has recently started getting big bumps some with sores on them. Her odor is terrible, and bathing only helps for a day or so. Another of symptom she has started having is swollen, red, warm and flaky (calcified) ears.
        She’s a full blood rat terrier, so maybe hereditary? I hope someone can actual help give me an answer and help, because my vets not doing much at all.

    2. One lady was saying to give your dog a table spoon of olive oil in their dog food and she said it worked wonders. Also just wanted to say that putting some iodine in a good shampoo that takes away oils, like even the swave from Walmart will kill fungus. My kids once got ring worm and was talking to my veterinarian about it, he said they most likely got if from our cats and that it was a fungus , he told me to use iodine and that it would kill fungus. My Dog has the same problem with smelly oily itchy skin and people had told me it is his food, I think it is a combination of fungus and food, so it is worth a try to put some idoine in swave shampoo give his a good lather up to get those oils off him and then like the lady said a table spoon of olive oil a day in their dog food. GOD bless and good luck. And most importantly pray about it asking GOD, FATHER YAHWEH the CREATOR of Heaven and earth in HIS SON’S HOLY NAME , KING YAHSHUA and GOD will lead you to the answer. I always forget to pray first then move… :) GOD bless you .

    3. I was just wondering of he needs anti biotics too because of his feeling warm to the touch, could be running a fever. I also bug bombed my house to make sure that it was not fleas causing his problems. I was unable to do it last summer and it seemed his itching got worse. I always use one that has a residual effect and it seemed to help keep that kind of a problem down. But frequent baths seemed to help my dog. And I like to do as my veterinarian suggested that I use idoine in the shampoo. When he told me about ring worm being a fungus and that my cats most likely were the cause of my children getting it because cats go into dark moist places when they are hunting mice then come and rub on the kids , he suspected that is most likely where they got it and suggested I bathe the cats in iodine added to shampoo to get it off their fur , and then my doctor gave me something for the children which worked for them. But was thinking if you could use a really good shampoo that cleans the oils away and add some iodine to it then really lather up his underbelly and rinse really good to get the oils and shampoo off with clean water that might help. Groomers are really good at knowing what to use as well. Our vet has groomers I am thinking of using for my dog. But when I bathe him often it really helps. GOD bless and good luck.

    4. It might be a good idea to give your dog a good bath after he has been out hunting too. A kind of funny thing happened to us involving our pets out exploring in the wilderness that was near where we had just moved to. One day my daughter woke up and there was poison ivy all over one side of her face and it was the middle of winter. We took her to the doctor and the doctor asked if we had been out camping. We had not but we live near some woods. We were all perplexed about how she might have gotten poison ivy in the winter time and not even going out in the woods. The doctor asked if we had pets and we said yes. She theorized that the pets had possibly gotten into poison ivy while out exploring and it got onto their fur then one of them came up and rubbed on her face. Again it was most likely our cats because that is one way they showed affection to my daughter is to rub up against her face :) a good bath after a pet has been out exploring or hunting is a good precautionary step for them and you. Could be he pikced up some fungus out in the woods :) you never know.

  8. I have a 2 year old male blue pit that has itchy very smell fouling skin mostly on his back we have tried everything and we cannot afford expensive treatment but we love him very much and will do anything we can for him and we live in a small town where a lot of resources and products are not available but a Walmart and a rural king any suggestions what I could get from one of those places to help him..

  9. Just a note for all you folks using oatmeal shampoo, if it is indeed related to a yeast type infection, oatmeal is feeding the fungus. My vet recommend to NEVER use oatmeal based shampoo.

    1. I read this as well on other sites and was surprised to see so many mentioning their vet recommended it…

  10. My dog is about three years old and he’s had a skin issue for most of his life. He itches constantly, he eats a lot but remains really skinny, and he has a bad odor. Most of his fur has been scratched off and we are at the point of putting him down because of his suffering. We can not afford a vet just remedies. We have already tried acv, fish oil, coconut oil and changed his diet. If anyone know of any treatments for this situation that would be very helpful.

    1. Cassie, My dog has this problem for years and her hair fell out. I took her to a new vet and she did a simple blood test to check her thyroid( was around $30) and that turned out to be the problem. After thousands I have spent I give thyroid pills that cost around $20 per month. All her fur has grown back now and itching has subsided a lot!!!! She has a weird smell though. When dogs have a thyroid problem they usually end up with yeast as well. Fixing the thyroid problem has improved that condition about 90 percent.

      1. Tara,

        What is the strength of the thyroid medication and what is the name of it? This makes perfect sense as the thyroid of a K-9 is basically the same make up as a human.


    2. Try mixing warm water and apple cider vinegar equal parts and give him bath in the malaseb prescription shampoo then rinse in the mixture. Put some mixture in spray bottle and spray skin where hes itching. Good Luck poor baby

    3. I have been reading a lot about putting iodine in a shampoo and lathering it up real well. See if that might help.

  11. If it’s a yeast infection you need to eliminate carbs and any food that contains grains, or foods that contain sugar, my frenchie is now on a well balanced raw diet, a daily massage of
    Coconut oil- please research into this amazing product, it does wonders for both dogs and humans and my frenchie loves eating it.
    You will notice your dog going through a detox when you start, as the body is eliminating the toxins and replenishing the gut, I also give a probiotic that doesn’t contain any additives, especially yeast! You will be amazed at the difference and wonder why you ever gave your dog kibble in the first place.

  12. My neighbours have a pomeranian dog but they are unable to take care of him. And now the dog is suffering from skin disease and hairfall. His skin has become very ichy and sometimes he bites himself in anger of it and after itching his skin becomes too much reddish and even blood comes out of it. What shall I do to make it ichyfree?/????

  13. Check out this site… … I also have a itchy smelly yeasty dog. My vet had him on very expensive purina HA food for years. He is 13 now. Cavelier King Charles spaniel. Tried every shampoo. Antibiotics. Steroids. Sometimes they would work for a little while but no cure. He smells like yeast. I took him off the starchy soy kibble that I hated feeding him and have been gradually working toward a healthy meat diet. I heard about this product on the radio and thought I’d give one last try. It has a money back guarentee. I have seen my one dog stop licking and itching. The yeasty dog is getting better but I think he’s detoxing he was so bad. I bath him in the bathtub once a week. He’s loving his new diet. Both dogs have more energy. I also use coconut oil on the skin and a tiny bit once a day in the food. But I had given up and when I read the many reviews on this product I thought I’d give one more try. Check it out. You decide. I hope this is helpful. We love our babies.

    1. My Yorkie does well with Apoquel too. I still don’t know why he has itchy, flaky skin that smells awful. I would like to treat the cause rather than the symptoms. I just found a vet who will find out for about $200.00. The Apoquel is about $1.00 per pill once a day or about $30 a month.

  14. I found your blog just now and have read every one. I am besides myself with grief and tears! I have a terrier/Doxie mix 6 year old male. He gets yeasty but develops hard white layer of crud across his whole back, sides, throat. I’m on my 3rd vet, been through prednisol, ketoconazole, baytril, Dino-cute, fish oil, coconut oil, essential oils, dips, sprays, ointments, changed his food and treats to grain free and right now he is limping and covered in this CRUD. I have dedicated so much time to this, it just breaks my heart to see him so miserable!! I scrap, recycle and scrimp to be able to take him to the vet and NOTHING is helping him!! I just discontinued the steroids & meds because this is our 4th round of them and he is WORSE THAN EVER!!! Every single article pertains to things I’ve already done/tried and slot of people say the problem still exists!!! There has got to be a solution for this crap, this is not something he was born with!!! He does get yeasty under his front 2 legs, but he gets this HARD WHITE LAYER IF CRUD ACROSS HIS BACK, bumps of the same near his rear, legs, chest, neck and constantly chewing his paws. I’ve made home-made remedies, soaked him, dipped him, rinsed him, bathed him. PLEASE, if someone can help me, please let me know @ I need a cure

  15. Try a shampoo with tea tree or by a bottle if it and add to an OATMEAL FREE shampoo. I hope this might help. I have also read people adding iodine to their shampoo. I hope this helps.

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