why does dog food smell bad

Why Does Dog Food Smell So Bad? Could it be Harmful (Facts)

Whether you have recently gotten a new pet dog or have had one for years, there’s one thing that all pet parents can agree to – pet foods tend to have a very strong and bad smell.

Since canines tend to have a stronger sense of smell than humans, they might be more affected by their food smells. It could easily and quickly turn your otherwise complacent dog into a picky eater.

Are you worried that a strong odor might cause harm to your furry friend? If your answer is yes, dive right in and learn everything about what makes dog food smell, its effect on dogs, and how to prevent it.

What are the Causes of Foul Smelling Dog Food?

What are the Causes of Foul Smelling Dog Food

Dog owners often wonder what is in dog food that smells so bad. And if you are among these owners, then here is your time to find out more about the possible causes:

1. Ingredients of Dog Food

Dog food has certain ingredients that are great for the health and growth of your pup but not pleasant to the olfactory system.


Dog food contains numerous ingredients, and not all have a pleasant smell. Since dogs have more olfactory receptors, they are likely to be more affected by the smell of the food, and here palatants come into play.

Palatants are artificial chemicals, available in dry powder form and liquid, that improve the food’s texture and smell. These chemicals combine the taste compounds and aromas your dog craves to make it tempting for them, but it might not smell nice to you.

Animal Byproducts

Another reason that dog food stinks is animal byproducts. While many assume that byproduct includes inferior quality meat that is less healthy or unsafe for consumption, it isn’t true.

Animal byproducts include leftover parts of an animal’s carcass after they remove all the muscle meat. While animal byproducts vary from brand to brand, most contain bone meal, intestines, poultry necks, kidneys, or spleen.

Since pet food manufacturers use almost every leftover part of cattle and poultry, it tends to add a strong and sometimes foul smell to the products.

2. There’s Something Wrong With The Food

There’s Something Wrong With The Food

Besides the smell of the ingredients, the dog food also smells when it has gone bad. Here are some instances of that:

It Has Gone Bad

Spoilage of dog food is quite common and is a leading cause of odors of pet food. When dog food gets spoiled, it can induce a sour smell and becomes unfit for consumption by canines.

If the dog food is slightly spoiled, it can be salvaged by thoroughly cooking it. However, it’s best not to take risks when your furry companion’s health is in question and throw it all out if you think it doesn’t smell nice.

Insect Infestation

Infestation by insects and rodents is yet another probable reason for the bad smell of dog food. If you notice a strong, musty smell, chances are that pests or insects may have infested your dog’s food.

You may also notice droppings in the pet food packet or even smell urine if rats have gotten into it. If you feel that mice or rats might have found a way into your dog’s food and infested it, make sure you don’t feed it.

Past Its Expiry Date

Pet food is identical to human food in certain ways and can rot after a certain amount of time. If the dog food is way past its expiry date, there are chances that some of its ingredients may have started going bad, and it could be the reason for the foul smell.

Improper Storage

If the dog food isn’t stored properly, it can also decay the food go bad and thus start smelling bad. You must store the dog food in a dry and cool place since exposure to extreme temperatures and moisture can spoil it and lead to a bad smell.

Dirty Utensils

The utensils you use to serve your pet dog their food, like bowls, containers, or scoops, can also impact the food’s smell. If you don’t clean them regularly, bacteria can build up on them, which could lead to the food to smell bad.

How to Prevent Dog Food From Smelling Bad?

If the pet food you recently bought has started smelling bad, you should remember a few important things to prevent it.

1. Choose Quality Dog Food Only

Choose Quality Dog Food Only

The first and most important thing you should do here is to invest in high-quality dog food for your furry friend. Choosing pet food with fresh, natural, and healthy ingredients will help prevent the foul smell.

Also, ensure the food contains no additives, fillers, or preservatives.

2. Store it Right

Storing pet food right is another way of preventing it from smelling bad. It would help if you tried to pick a cool and dry place to store it and avoid humid or damp areas.

Besides that, you should keep the dog food in an airtight container that prevents exposure to moisture or even insects.

3. Clean Your Bowls, Containers, And Scoops Regularly

Clean Your Bowls, Containers, And Scoops Regularly

Make sure you clean the scoops, bowls, and other containers you use to serve the food to your pet dog. It will help remove the bacteria and microorganisms that can build up on the utensils over time and cause the food to smell awful.

4. Use Before Expiration Date

Lastly, you must ensure the food you give your furry friend is still valid. You must talk to a veterinarian if you still need to figure out how long to use the dog food.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Smells Make A Dog Sick?

Some scents, like that of essential oils, might not be safe for dogs. It might result in sickness.

What Does Bad Dog Food Smell Like?

If dog food has gone bad, it will have a rotten or sour odor.

Can Dog Food Expire?

Yes, the ingredients that go into pet foods affect the shelf life, and these products expire after some time.

Final Thoughts

As a dog parent, you only want what’s best for your pet, and the strong odor from the pet food might be alarming. Here you must understand whether the smell comes from the ingredients or the food has gone bad.

Moreover, you must ensure that you only get natural dog food for your pet and store it properly to keep it safe for consumption!

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