Why Do Dogs Smell More When They Sleep



Most animals, especially mammals, emit natural and artificial odors which can be difficult to tolerate especially when they come from pets like dogs that are always around humans. A dog’s natural odors are produced by glands located around the ears, paw pads, nose, and the anal area. Artificial odors are caused by disease or contaminants in the environment. If your dog is smelly, you probably do not want to include him in fun activities like going for a ride in your car or cuddling together on the sofa to watch television. But smelly as they are when awake, some dogs tend to be increasingly smelly when asleep. If you have gotten the occasional whiff of these odors, you must be wondering what this is about. Well, wonder no more for we are about to tell you why in the post below. 

The Root of the Behavior

Many dogs smell bad all the time but the reason they seem to be so smelly during sleep isn’t that they are smelly, but because of one, their proximity to you and two, the absence of other smells. During the day, your dog is up and about and so are you. There are also more smells in the house that are produced during daytime activities such as cooking and cleaning. As the scents in your environment intermingle, it becomes difficult to distinguish any one smell. With the calm of the night, individual smells such as that emanating from your dog will begin to stand out. Smells are also heightened on hot days than cold days thus you will probably notice your dog’s smelliness more in the summer than in the winter. With that being said, dog odors originate from several body parts. One, when it is hot, your dog will release sweat through the glands in his paws. The moisture-laden paws provide a perfect breeding ground for bacteria and fungi, which cause smelliness and increase the risk of infection. 

Two, your dog can also suffer from smelly fur. This could be either due to an extreme accumulation of dirt in which case he is long overdue for a bath or from canine seborrhea, a skin condition that causes dandruff and oils to build up on the skin and fur. The greasiness tends to build up on the belly, in the ears, and around elbows armpits, and ankles, causing extreme smelliness. Seborrhea is inherited in some dog breeds but where this is not the case, it is caused by factors such as allergies, a deficient diet, parasites, autoimmune, or endocrine disorders. Four, smelliness that emanates from the ears may be a sign of an ear infection, a condition common among dogs with floppy ears. Five, flatulence can also contribute to bad odors and is mostly caused by eating fibrous foods, lactose intolerance, too much fat in the diet, or certain medications. Farting tends to happen more during sleep because muscles are relaxed at this time. Some natural scents can be difficult for the human nose to detect. For instance, when your dog rubs his paws on the ground before sleeping, he releases a hormone that you cannot smell but that can be detected by other dogs. 

Encouraging the Behavior

Bad odors should be controlled or eliminated as they are a symptom of the existence of microorganisms which can cause health problems in you and your dog. How you control your dog’s odors will depend on the cause and where the odor originates. Artificial odors can be controlled through better hygiene. If your dog has smelly paws, try cleaning them in the evenings after he has completed all outdoor activities. Only use products recommended by dog experts to treat smelly paws. Unless advised by the vet, do not use products that are meant for treating fungal and yeast infections in humans as you cannot be sure of their safety or efficacy. 

You or your dog’s vet should conduct a routine examination to diagnose infected ears. Even when your dog is healthy, a certain amount of bacterial activity happens in the ears causing his ear wax to smell yeasty. If there is an infection, the smell will be distinctly repulsive and not yeasty. Medical examinations should also be conducted on your dog’s skin and fur if it appears flaky and greasy. Blood work, fecal tests, skin, and fur tests, among others, should help to rule out medical conditions or establish whether your dog’s seborrhea is inherited. Odors related to passing wind can be managed by adjusting your dog’s diet. Though he can be treated with medication, this should only happen if dietary changes don’t seem to work or if the flatulence causes increased stomach discomfort. 

Other Solutions and Considerations

If your dog’s fur is smelly, it is not because of night sweat. Unlike humans, dogs don’t experience night sweat. In fact, dogs don’t sweat under their fur at all even though they have sweat glands all over their bodies but only sweat through their paws and nose. It is believed that the sweat glands located under their fur only produce pheromones whose odor can only be detected by dogs though the purpose of the pheromones has not been established. If your dog wakes up wet, it could be due to other reasons such as he pees while sleeping, he licks himself too much, or he extrudes fluid through his mouth. If this is of increasing concern to you, consult his vet so that he can get treatment or be put under observation. 


Dogs smell bad sometimes and you have to contend with this fact as long as you love having a dog. But whereas you cannot control natural odors, with the tips shared above, you can certainly control acquired odors. It is the only way to continue enjoying the companionship of your dog without running for a gas mask every time he approaches!