Why Does My Dog Smell Like Onions?

By Britt Kascjak

Have you recently noticed an unpleasant smell on your dog? Does your dog smell like onion and you’re unsure of the cause?

When we notice a change like the smell of our dog, that often causes concerns about their well-being.

There are several health-related causes that could trigger a change in scent. But, there are also many less worrying explanations for your dog’s new odor.

Here are a few reasons why your dog may smell like onion and what you can do to solve it.


While many dog owners are very familiar with the scent of a skunk, there are those that haven’t encountered it before.

The smell of skunk has been described as a mix of burning plastic and rotten onions. It’s not pleasant and it’s one that you will obviously want to get rid of as soon as possible.

There are great products on the market for getting rid of that horrible smell. Skunk-Off is a popular shampoo specifically formulated for this purpose.

You may come across a wide variety of home remedies but many of these aren’t effective.

The one solution that we have found works is a mix of hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, and Dawn dish soap.

In a bowl, mix 1 quart of 3% hydrogen peroxide, 1/4 cup of baking soda and 1 teaspoon of Dawn. Wearing gloves (to keep the skunk off yourself), coat your dog in this mixture and rub it in thoroughly.

Allow the mixture to sit on your dog for approximately 20 minutes before rinsing it off.

But be warned, the use of hydrogen peroxide may bleach darker coats.

Proteus or Pseudomons

Commonly called “Fritos Feet” or “Popcorn Feet”, this refers to bacterial and fungal growth on the paws. It gives off a yeasty smell that some describe as corn chips, popcorn, or onion chips.

The good news is that this incredibly common condition isn’t anything to worry about.

While the smell can be a little startling, it’s a natural smell resulting from sweaty paws. When the sweat combines with bacteria on the paws, the smell is formed.

Of course, if your dog’s smelly feet are incredibly foul or you notice other signs of injury, you should see a vet.

This could mean that the smell is actually a sign of infection in a cut or lesion on the foot. Untreated infections can cause serious complications.

Urinary Tract Infection

If your dog is suffering from a urinary tract infection, you may notice an awful smell from their urine.

This is a condition that needs to be treated by a veterinarian as soon as possible. Your dog will need to take an antibiotic to clear up the infection and, in time, the smell.

Left unaddressed, the infection can spread causing kidney problems and other complications.

Oral Tumors or Periodontal Disease

Is the sudden development of an onion odor specific to your dog’s breath? If so, this may be more than just “doggy breath”.

A dog with really bad breath may be suffering from oral health issues. This includes the presence of periodontal disease or an oral tumor.

Both of these conditions need to be treated by a veterinarian. They will be able to:

  • Assess the condition of your dog’s oral health
  • Remove any teeth that need to be removed
  • Do a full professional dental cleaning
  • Identify any abnormal growths
  • Biopsy growths to rule out or diagnose cancer
  • Recommend treatment options moving forward

These conditions shouldn’t be avoided as they can quickly spiral into something far worse.

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Britt Kascjak
Britt Kascjak has been active in the animal rescue community for over 15 years, volunteering, fostering, and advocating for organizations across Canada and the US. Her ‘pack’ includes her husband John, their 3 dogs – Daviana, Indiana, and Lucifer – and their 2 cats – Pippen and Jinx.