Dear Dr. Fox: I have a question about our dog. We are stumped.

He is a healthy 5-year-old neutered male. He has had his teeth cleaned, and has routine vet appointments. He has no smell on him per se, but his dog bed has to be routinely washed because of a rather nasty smell. It is a sweet but “rotting” smell, and he leaves brown stains where he licks. The licking is mostly in a normal grooming manner. His breath is terrible, but it’s not the same smell.

Do you have any ideas? The smell gets so strong you can smell it throughout the room, sometimes until the bed is washed. We are currently feeding him Purina Pro Plan Focus Lamb or Chicken and rice. Is there a better dog food we should feed him? His breath is fishy and foul, but his bedding is just gross. D.H., Kalispell, Montana

Dear D.H.: Healthy dogs do not have a bad smell.

Many people with stinky dogs repeatedly bathe them under the erroneous belief that will help. This can often disrupt the healthy microbiome on the skin and lead to secondary dermatological problems.

Feeding dogs a diet of only dry kibble is ill-advised, regardless of what some veterinarians and advertisements might proclaim. For details, read my article “Dog Food and Feeding Issues” on my website ( Consider making your own dog food, as per my posted recipe.

Check out the book “Not Fit for a Dog: The Truth About Manufactured Cat and Dog Food,” which I co-authored with two other veterinarians. Your dog’s “fishy and foul” breath is from the fish in this manufactured material. Such kibble, with all the cereal gluten in it, tends to linger between the teeth like glue.

At the very least, feed your dog some good-quality canned dog food or freeze-dried food with some grains, such as The Honest Kitchen’s line of dog foods.

Mind what you say

Dogs appear to be able to differentiate between words with slightly different vowel sounds, according to findings published in Biology Letters. Dogs of various breeds were played recordings of people saying six words that varied only by their vowels, and a majority reacted when either the voice or the word changed, meaning “they (might) comprehend more than we give them credit for,” said researcher Holly Root-Gutteridge. (New Scientist, Dec. 4)

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Write to Dr. Fox c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.

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