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. Tammy

    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

    • Zee

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

  2. Lindsay

    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?

    • Angela


      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 :)


  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.

    • Kathy Cotton

      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. Nancy A

    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 ?


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