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Dr. Gene
Dr. Gene, Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 2680
Experience:  DVM degree from Ontario Veterinary College
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My pughuahua was playing in the yard today, and when she

Customer Question

My pughuahua was playing in the yard today, and when she came in the house, I kissed her cheek. Immediately, I noticed a disgusting smell best described as cooked liver! The smell is concentrated only on one side of her face, between her eye and her ear, but about an inch below that area. I call it the dog's cheek.
I washed her cheek with soap, and the smell is still there, and just as strong as before. I don't think it's skunk spray, because I read that skunk smells like burned rubber. My dog, Buttercup, does not smell like burned rubber at all. Truly, it's a cooked liver smell. She has not eaten anything liver-related. I inspected her ear and her mouth for signs of infection and/or necrosis, and everything looks healthy. Can someone please tell me what the smell could be? It's really offensive, especially for my little girl, who, before today, always smelled wonderful.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Gene replied 1 year ago.

Hi there!

Well, there could be a couple of options (given you don't see any signs of injury / infection on her skin or in her ear):

1. Anal gland discharge; you probably already know this, but there are two glands just on the inside of the anus which contain a really foul smelling liquid. The glands sometimes release the fluid unexpectedly and this can happen as a result of sudden movement, a cough, etc. Dogs are often disturbed by the discomfort caused by the glands' fullness and may lick the area when the glands discharge their contents, thereby getting the liquid on their face. Perhaps you've smelled this before and know it's not it, because once you know what this smells like, you'll not ever mistake it for anything else.

2. Buttercup may have rubbed her face into a dead critter of some kind; the smells coming off a dead animal could run a range of awfulness.

I don't know what kind of soap you used, but I would try diluted dish soap (not dishwater detergent) like Dawn, which will help to strip the smell; do this several times over an hour and it should help to get the smell off...
If not, you can try a skunk smell removal remedy, not because I think Buttercup suffered from skunk's spray but because those remedies can be effective in removing a variety of smells. You can search online for the recipes, but those most effective typically contain hydrogen peroxide, baking soda and dish soap.

Hope this helps! Please let me know if you have other questions!

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I forgot to mention that when I first noticed the smell, the fur on her cheek looked as if some clear substance had dried up on her fur. The best way I can describe it is that it looked like someone had applied clear hair gel to her cheek, rubbed it in, and let it dry. So the fur was a bit stiff and messed up, and it had some kind of clear substance on it, but the substance was all stiff and dried up. After I washed her cheek, the fur looked and felt soft and normal again, despite the smell still being there. I actually did wash her face with dish soap, incidentally. Question: as far as the possible explanations that you listed, do any of them smell like cooked liver?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
would any of them be colorless? Buttercup has a white face, so the color of the substance would have been visible.
Expert:  Dr. Gene replied 1 year ago.

Something from a dead carcass could smell like cooked liver and so could anal gland contents, it's sort of subjective, I guess, but it could fit. Same with color, something from a carcass could be relatively colorless, but anal gland contents are typically yellow, tan or brown, however, when on the hair, it could be hard to determine the color... But, on a white dog, you should be able to see it.

It's hard to tell. It sounds more likely that it's from something dead rather than anal glands; there should not be a risk to her health, but it certainly sounds gross. I would give it another gentle scrub with soap and see if you can get the smell off a little bit better.

Expert:  Dr. Gene replied 1 year ago.

Hi again, checking in to see if you have any additional questions that have come up! Please be sure to rate my answers if you've found them helpful and let me know if there is something else I can help with. Thanks!