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Smells and Odors

Maltipoo Smells and Odors


It's happened to just about every owner: You get your Maltipoo super clean, his coat is shampooed and conditioned, his teeth are shiny, and you even checked his ears… He looks like the tidiest dog in the neighborhood, so what in the world is that smell? Even dogs that are regularly bathed and groomed can have some rather terrible odors. Luckily some of these are quick fixes, though others do point to certain health issues that will need to be addressed.

This section will cover everything you'll want to know if your Maltipoo puppy or dog has an odor problem:
  • Odor from specific body areas
  • What it means when there is a bad odor coming from the whole body
  • Reasons why even a bath may not get rid of smells
  • Tips to keep a Maltipoo smelling fresh and clean long after a bath is done
Maltipoo puppy looking up
Brie, 6 months old
Photo courtesy of Yerim Lee
Bad Odors Coming from a Maltipoo's Mouth

This is, perhaps, the most common odor problem among all dogs breeds and the adorable hybrid Maltipoo is no different. In fact, having a Poodle in the bloodline actually increases the odds of one of the reasons for bad breath odors. 

Let's look at the possible causes:

1) Dental issues - Tiny bits of food and plaque stuck between teeth is often the cause of chronic bad breath with dogs. However, in some cases more serious issues can be the root cause of bad odors emitting from the mouth. A dog's mouth can harbor just as much bacteria as human's and unfortunately, this can (and often does) lead to decay and other dental issues if not regularly cleaned and maintained. 

Plaque is always present in the mouth, and if not brushed off routinely it hardens into tartar (and some refer to this as calculus). This eats away at enamel, can grow under the gum line (where it cannot be removed at home) and can cause teeth to start decaying which not only causes terrible smells, it is often very painful for dogs and can lead to fatal poisoning. 
Since the Poodle is prone to dental issues, the Maltipoo is as well (hybrid vigor does reduce the odds of some health conditions, however this is not one of them). If infection develops and if is not treated it can travel up (into the sinuses) or even travel throughout the body, reaching vital organs.

Smells due to these sorts of issues may be likened to mold, mildew, Sulphur, fish, a sour odor and even corn. 

What to do:   

1. Start by giving your Maltipoo a thorough brushing, using an appropriately sized quality canine toothbrush and a quality paste (more ahead on which brushes and pastes are actually effective). 

2. If this does not remove the smell, if you see any signs of decay or if your Maltipoo has not had a professional cleaning in the past year, bring your Maltipoo to the vet for a 'full dental'. X-rays will be taken, the teeth will be cleaned and scraped (plaque beneath the gum line will be removed) and any issues will be treated. 

3. Get onto a regular schedule of brushing your Maltipoo's teeth once per day. Some owners aim for 2 or 3 times per week; however since this task only takes 2 to 3 minutes and supplies are relatively inexpensive, why not do this each day and really cut down on the chances of issues?... now and much larger problems in the future such as tooth loss and sometimes deadly infection. 
2) Object stuck in the mouth - Little items such as wood fragments from outdoors or even small plastic bits that a dog may mouth inside the house can become wedged between teeth… or if the object is pointy can pierce the inner cheek tissue. As the body responds to the invader, extra saliva is produced, there may be localized swelling and even minor bleeding and if left too long, infection. All of this can produce a bad odor. 
What to do: If this is suspected, along with a helper you may be able to spot the culprit by using a flashlight to have a look. For tiny objects stuck between two teeth, using a dry washcloth to firmly grasp it (have one finger on the inner side of the tooth and one on the outer side) you may be able to swipe up or down to remove it. In other cases, human floss may work. If you see a splinter that may be the cause of the bad odor, this is best handled by a veterinarian who can properly remove it as to not leave any remnants in the skin. 

3) Breath smells like dog food - While it is normal for a dog to smell a bit like dog food (and some dog foods don't smell so great), it is not normal for there to be a lingering odor that essentially lasts all day. Often, this can be attributed to dry food. 
Maltipoo looking nice and clean
Benji | Owner: Julie
Some brands are chalky and as you pour the food into the bowl you may notice a dust cover on the kibble. When a Maltipoo eats this sort of meal, the fine particles of food dust mix with the dog's saliva and this can turn into a paste-like substance that tends to stick to all parts inside of the mouth. Once this happens, a Maltipoo may smell like dog food no matter how long between meals. 

What to do:  

1. Check the expiration date on your Matlipoo's food. Normally a bag of kibble can retain enough moisture for only 2 to 3 months after opening it. As soon as the bag is opened, fats start to oxidize from the air exposure and this dries it out. If the consistency of the food has caused it to become stale, you'll want to either buy smaller bags or take measures to seal it tighter. Transferring it into an air-proof, lock-tight plastic container often works well. Alternatively, rolling the bag down while squeezing out extra air and using tape to close it may extend it another month.  

2. Encourage your Maltipoo to drink water after eating. While dogs often do not drink on cue, filling up his bowl with fresh, cool water may just do the trick. However, many Maltipoo dogs need a bit more encouragement than that and in these cases, to ensure that the dog is meeting water intake requirements and getting rid of food paste that can cause a terrible smell, employing a canine water fountain often works well. Not only do dogs drink more due to the tempting element of flowing water, quality fountains will have filters that can get rid of some of the terrible chemicals found in tap water. 
4) Smelling like dog poop- This is perhaps one of the most frustrating odor problems that Maltipoo owners encounter. A foul odor is bad enough, however when the smell of feces is coming from a dog's mouth, it can be more than unpleasant. There are 2 main reasons why this can happen:
cute little Maltipoo
Bastian, 7 weeks old
Photo courtesy of Kathleen Krane
1. The Maltipoo is eating feces, his own or that of another dog. There are many reasons for why a Maltipoo may eat poop from needing a higher quality food to it becoming a habit. The #1 thing that an owner can do is to limit a dog's access to it, however if the dog is home alone this may not be feasible. There are some supplements that can help; while these work about 70% of the time, it is worth trying since it is a relatively inexpensive method. The supplement is sprinkled on food and is tasteless as it is eaten; however when it comes out (along with the stool) it has a very bad taste which can discourage a Maltipoo from going near it. 

2. In very rare cases, this could be a matter of stomach or intestinal blockage. In some cases, feces-like matter may actually be vomited out. Other symptoms are signs of severe distress, heavy panting, circling, panic, straining to go to the bathroom, refusal to eat and/or vomiting a clear liquid. In these cases, this is considered an immediate emergency situation that needs veterinary care ASAP.
5) Teething puppy smell - Cute little puppies from the age of 3 to 4 months up to the age of 8 to 9 months are often teething which can cause temporary bad breath smells. Some equate this to a strong, sour milk odor. Others describe this as a disagreeable and overwhelming tangy odor. If is often caused by the combination of small amounts of blood mixed with saliva that can develop into tiny pockets of fluid that stay trapped in the mouth and become very smelly. 
What to do: Brushing your Maltipoo's teeth will remove this sort of smell and also serves the 2 great benefits of keeping up with good oral hygiene (decay in a puppy tooth can cause problems with the adult set) and the feeling of the bristles on the gums can be very pleasing to a Maltipoo puppy that is suffering from intense teething itch. 

Odor from the Ears

One of the last things that an owner wants to happen is to notice a bad smell coming from a Maltipoo's ears, since this is never a good sign. While there can be a buildup of wax, this alone does not often cause an odor. More likely, this will be a matter of some type of infection. This can be a yeast or bacterial infection or even ear mites that should be treated by the vet.

Once treated, keeping the ears free from excess moisture (place cotton in the outer ear canals when bathing) and keeping excess wax under control can help prevent this from happening again. 

Odor from the Vagina

This is often a matter of a Maltipoo's vagina smelling like fish or having a strong musty smell. It may be more noticeable after the dog urinates, though the smell can seep into fabric and leave a lingering odor on the dog's bed, the sofa, and other areas where she rests. 

She may lick the area and there may be signs of localized swelling or red, irritated skin. There may or may not be clear or white discharge. 

Ongoing smells like this are often due to vaginitis, which is an infection of the vagina. This may be bacterial or yeast. Another issue that can produce this sort of smell is a urinary tract infection or a bladder infection (these can also make the urine smell quite bad as well). 

With young female Maltipoo dogs that have not yet had their first heat cycle, this may be an issue of juvenile vaginitis. This can develop with young female pups and if so, spontaneous goes away after the first heat. 

In any case, diagnosis should be done by the veterinarian to determine the course of treatment. Antibiotics are given to treat vaginal infection and this is done after testing to make sure the right one is prescribed; the wrong one (or a broad-spectrum one) can make it worse as it will not correctly target the specific bacteria that are involved. Chronic cases may also be treated with a non-diary probiotic to maintain proper levels of both 'good' and 'bad' bacteria.  
Maltipoo All Over Body Smells

While you may keep up a proper schedule of giving baths, using great products and brushing your dog to keep the coat nice, there can be a terrible, full body smell that seems to defy logic. 

There are a few things that you will want to look at:

1) Anal glands. All dogs have a pair of anal glands (also called scent glands) located on each side of the anal opening. These hold an oily substance that is normally released in very small quantities when the dog has a bowel movement and also when he/she meets another dog. The scent released upon meeting another dog is how they communicate. It lets them know the other's gender, health status and even mood.  

Normally, the amount of oil that is released is not enough for us humans to smell it. However, under certain circumstances, more oil than normal can be let loose and to say that this smells bad is a huge understatement. The odor is so overpowering that it could be said it is 10 times stronger than the smell of a skunk and some even refer to this as smelling like death itself. 

If the fluid in the sacs builds up (this may be due to soft stools or overproduction by the body), they can fill up so much that the skin can break open. If the tear is big enough, all oil will spill out. If the tear is small, this foul smelling liquid can slowly seep out and while it originates from the dog's anus area, the smell is so strong that it can envelop the entire dog. 
Maltipoo sleeping on her back
Elsa, 12 weeks old
Photo courtesy of Persis B.
What to do: Inspect the glands. This is often easier during or after bath time when the Maltipoo's coat is wet and they are easier to see. If you see that any skin is torn, you may want to have the vet examine this. In some cases, application of an antibiotic gel is enough to heal this at home, however if the tear has been there for a while an infection may be settled in. If so, it will need to be flushed, cleaned and an antibiotic (topical or oral) is given. In some cases, a few stitches may be needed. 

This can be prevented by regularly inspecting the area. If you notice that the glands are swollen, a vet or a groomer can express them (this is akin to having a pimple popped by is best left to the professionals). One sign that a Maltipoo is having troubles is that the dog will scoot his/her butt along the ground in an attempt to scratch the itch due to stretched skin.
2) Yeast infection/ fungal infection - If your Maltipoo smells like mold, vinegar or has a smell that can be equated to sour smelling clothes that have been left in the washer too long or improperly air dried, this may be a yeast infection of the skin. This is also referred to as a fungal infection. Sometimes the coat will have an oily look to it or you may see an abnormal skin appearance when the hairs are parted. If this is not treated, the skin may develop smelly crusts and there may be moderate to severe itching. 

Yeast infections may begin in certain areas of a dog's body such as in-between the toes, the ears, in the groin area or in the armpits (and the odor is often strong enough to make it appear that it is coming from everywhere), although the infection, thus the smell, may be all over the body as well. 
Maltipoo at table, shaved closed
Ba'Bee, 8 years old
Photo courtesy of Janet Archer McGovern
Most often, an overproduction of body oils is responsible and this can be caused by an allergic response, an immune deficiency or a hormone imbalance.

What to do: While it is always a good idea to have a veterinarian make a proper diagnosis, a quality anti-yeast shampoo can often resolve this issue. You will want to look for one that contains chlorhexidine and is formulated with an antiseptic foaming solution. You will also want it to contain lipacide, which helps the skin from drying out, so that it can heal as it is being treated. 

You will want to use Chlorhexidine pads to touch up and clean certain areas prone to smell and yeast such as paws, between toes, the chin and other areas. This can prevent a full breakout in the future.

Bathing Products and How this Affects Body Odor

There are 2 main elements to consider when choosing the right bath products for your Maltipoo:

1) The right shampoo and conditioner is vital and is directly related to smells long after bath time has ended. Cheap products are cheap for a reason; time and effort and not been put in to create a shampoo that has the correct PH balance for canines. This in turn dries out the skin as harsh abrasives wipe out all oil and scratch the skin, leaving it dry and parched. 
Inferior shampoos and conditioners are also often plumped up with thick, inexpensive ingredients that do nothing more than feel good in your hand as you are applying it to your Maltipoo during a bath, but in turn block the skin pores. This in turn can cause a terrible smell, as the body produces body oil that gets trapped into the product's residue in the pores. When a quality shampoo is used, it will have the right gentle cleaning abrasives to properly clean without stripping, while being able to be properly rinsed out without leaving behind a sludge that will develop a smell. 

2) Never underestimate Leave-in's. For the Maltipoo breed - with its amazing wavy coat of hair, using a leave-in product is a must. These are sprays, mists or spritzes that are applied both after a bath and 1 to 3 times per week on non-bath weeks.

A quality, effective leave-in will serve several purposes:

1. It makes the coat soft to help prevent tangles and mats. This keeps the coat healthy and makes brushing much easier. 

2. It protects the coat from many types of damage including sun exposure and contact friction. The sun can dry out both skin & coat and can gradually fade or change color. Contact friction (when a Maltipoo's coat rubs against the flooring, furniture, etc.) can cause split ends which can end up making the coat look just awful.  

3. It will have a pleasant fragrance that will work round the clock to keep bad odor from developing. There is nothing better than a super cute, clean looking Maltipoo actually smelling as nice as he/she looks. 
*** For all recommended products, look to Maltipoo Supplies
Tips to Keep a Maltipoo Smelling Great

You will always want to have chronic bad smells that do not respond to at-home treatments to be diagnosed by a reputable and experienced veterinarian. 
That said, by following these guidelines, a Maltipoo can stay smelling super nice round the clock:
1) Use the right brush at the right times. Days are super busy, we understand and many owners only brush their dog once the see that the coat really needs it. However, if you can get into a habit of doing a full body brush at least every 3 days, this can play a role in keeping bad odors at bay. 

Many times, a terrible smell will be due to the above mentioned blocking of the skin pores related to using inferior bathing products. And those same body oils can accumulate on a Maltipoo's body and start to smell if they are not distributed with brushing. 

When you brush the body, start at the part in the hair along the back and brush in long, deep strokes to the end of the hairs. Use a small slicker brush that is appropriately sized so that you can reach all areas. 
Maltipoo sleeping on a shoe
Winston, at 6 weeks old, sleeping on a shoe.
Photo courtesy of Lisa Vest
For dogs that have moderate to very long coats, a pin brush often works best.
2) Bathe your Maltipoo every 3 week, regardless of appearance. It may seem like a grooming chore to wash your Maltipoo if he looks just fine, however this can lead to quite harsh odors that creep up and then seem out of control. Bathing on time is not just to clean off dirt, mud or other debris. Each day the body produces oil and at just about the 3 week mark, enough has been produced that it starts to spread out into the coat, clingy to hairs and starting to smell bad. When you place your Maltipoo in the sink or tub and start to work, this is to clean out debris but also to wash away those stinky oils and start with a nice, clean slate of the skin and coat.

Using the right products will ensure the job was done correctly and then using a good spritz will help keep your dog smelling fresh until the next 3 week mark. 

3) Properly dry your Maltipoo. When a coat is left to air dry, this can - depending on the temperature and humidity of the house and how good or bad it was first towel dried- lead to a smelly coat. Not all Maltipoos are happy with being blow-dried, though they can become accustomed this with time. However, at the very least, the coat should be gently dried using super absorbent, quality towels. Cheap towels take forever to actually absorb water, so by the time you've made any progress, you just created split ends and contributed to a distressed coat. If you use Egyptian or Turkish cotton & bamboo towels these will quickly absorb water and be gentle on the hairs, keeping them healthy.  
funny Maltipoo in dress and hat
Photo courtesy of DiAne
4) Use the right oral hygiene products. This will include the toothbrush, paste and even canine mouth washes. The brush is important; you will want it to be properly sized so that it reaches all areas (3 sided types are best as this cuts down on the time needed for the task). 

The paste is super important because quality pastes will actually remove plaque and tiny debris, a huge element in keeping the mouth smelling nice. Also, you want your Maltipoo to somewhat enjoy this task and if it is formulated to taste good, half the battle is done. Please never use paste meant for humans since the fluoride in these is toxic. 

There are some great canine 'mouth washes' which are actually flavorless, drinkable liquids that are added to a dog's water (about 1 teaspoon per 8 ounce bowl) that work to kill bacteria both in the mouth and in the dish. 
5) Outdoor to indoor spot checking. Any time that your Maltipoo transitions from being outside to coming into the house, there is a chance that something has occurred that can lead to a smell. It's a good idea to keep a container of effective, nice-smelling canine body wipes near the front door for the purpose of taking care of these things right away before they become smelly problems. The #1 issue will be related to bathroom needs. This includes both urine that has splattered up onto the Maltipoo and pieces of feces that has stuck to the coat. 
After all, if our dogs cannot use toilet paper, how can we expect them to smell great? A quick wipe down of the belly and legs and a check of the bum for any bits of stool and then wiped off can go a long way in keeping odors from developing. Be sure to wipe away from the genitals as you do not want to swipe fecal bacteria to the front.
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