Why Does My Dog Smell Like Cheese [7 Possible Reasons]

The reason your dog smells like cheese is most likely because of a yeast infection.  If that’s the case, then the cheese-like smell will worsen during the warm summer months. A poor diet, fungal infection, or open wound can also make your dog smell like cheese.

We all love our dogs, but when they smell like cheese, spending time with them isn’t exactly the most pleasant thing in the world. When you first notice the smell coming from your dog, you might assume all they need is a bath. But when you give them a bath and notice the scent quickly returned, you begin to realize something more severe might be going on.

If your dog smells like cheese, it could be as simple as the fact that they got into your Doritos. Or, it could be much more severe, like an infection of some kind, or even an open wound.

The only way to get rid of the smell is to figure out the source of the scent. Read our guide below for possible causes and solutions to your dog’s cheese-like smell.

Can Yeast Infections Make a Dog Smell Like Cheese?

Believe it or not, dogs can get yeast infections on their skin. While this may not be immediately life-threatening, it sure can make for an uncomfortable situation for you and your dog. It is inconvenient for you because of the smell. It’s uncomfortable for your best friend because of some of the underlying symptoms.

Dogs with untreated yeast infections will begin to smell like cheese because the odor the yeast and sebum emit has a very potent scent.

Causes of Canine Yeast Infections

It’s important to figure out why your dog got a yeast infection in the first place so you can ensure they don’t get one again.


Parasites living on your dog may also be giving off a cheesy aroma. While this can be hard for you to diagnose at home, a veterinarian should be able to quickly pick up on this and prescribe the best course of action. This will usually entail drops, lotions, or a medicinal shampoo of some sort. With the proper medication, you can typically get parasites to disappear within 4-6 weeks.

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Hormone Imbalance

A hormone imbalance can cause a yeast infection. The most recent research has shown that an excess of estrogen can make for a perfect start for a yeast infection. This can only be discovered through proper blood testing by your vet and lab technicians. If it’s discovered that your dog has a hormone imbalance, the vet will typically prescribe testosterone boosters.


A dog’s immune system is eerily similar to our own. Dogs, too, can suffer from allergies and may need to be treated appropriately. These allergies can cause a lot of itching that will cause inflammation and little cuts in their skin, allowing for a perfect breeding ground for a yeast infection.

Other than seasonal allergies, food allergies are the most common. That’s why we always recommend the raw diet for dogs who suffer from food allergies. Give it a try to see how your dog responds to it.

The veterinarian may offer medicine as a treatment rather than alter their natural bacteria balance, allowing a yeast infection to set in.

Treating a Yeast Infection

Wouldn’t it be great if there was a miracle home remedy that could cure yeast infections? Despite what many websites would lead you to believe, there is no proven home remedy for yeast infections. Sure, some might provide relief from the symptoms, which is excellent! But it doesn’t get to the root of the issue and cure the infection.

When your dog is suffering from a yeast infection, a veterinarian should be consulted immediately to determine the underlying cause.

Once the cause is determined, proper treatment can be initiated. This will most likely entail a strict bath regime with complete drying, medicine, and possibly medicinal baths. Topical creams are also used by vets for the treatment of canine yeast infections and can be quite successful.

Canine Seborrhea Can Also Cause Your Dog to Smell Like Cheese

Canine seborrhea is an unfortunate disorder some dogs suffer from. It causes a flaky, itchy, scaly type skin that can become red and inflamed. This is very uncomfortable for your pup, especially when isolated to a single location. Some dogs will scratch themselves so hard they end up bleeding.

While canine seborrhea is not curable, it is treatable. However, if left untreated, seborrhea will cause a buildup of yeast that will give off a cheese type odor.

Types of Seborrheic Dermatitis

There are two types of seborrheic dermatitis. Dry and Oily. Both the dry and oily type (seborrhea sicca and seborrhea oleosa, respectively) manifest themselves with the same symptoms of redness, itchiness, and flaky, scaly skin. Think of psoriasis on a human.

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Signs of Seborrheic Dermatitis

Seborrheic Dermatitis will rear its ugly head where your canine has lots of sebaceous glands. This is mostly along their spine and shoulders. This area will become very bothersome for your dog, and you may find it scratching it’s back on furniture or corners. If you find lots of white flakes in your dog’s bedding, this is a pretty good sign that your dog has dermatitis.

Your vet should be able to provide you with both oral medication and topical ointment to control the problem.

Other Causes of Canine Cheese Odor

Although yeast infections are the most common reason for dogs smelling like cheese, they aren’t the only reason. Below are four other culprits for that sometimes unbearable smell.

Fungal Infection

A fungal infection can take root anywhere on your dog, but most likely in the paws and ears. There may always be a small amount of fungus in these areas, but your dog’s natural bacteria can take care of it.

During the hot and humid months, however, the fungus can begin to massively multiply and give off a cheesy smell. This can be easily treated with over the counter medication. The vet will tell you which medication would be best for your dog.

Open Wounds

The problem with open wounds is they fester with all kinds of live bacteria. If left untreated, they can become gangrenous, which is by far the most life-threatening item on this list.

If your dog has an open wound and smells like cheese, get into a veterinarian as soon as possible. Not taking immediate action on this one could result in your dog losing its life in a very disturbing way.

Poor Hygiene

Going back to the yeast problem, some dogs just have poor hygiene. When your dog’s cheesy smelly is brought on by an overall lack of hygiene, you are much to blame for it. Bathing and properly drying your dog are all part of being a responsible dog owner.

We suggest bathing your dog at least once a month. In the summer months, it is imperative that you completely dry your pup. Dog dryers are a perfect tool for this, and most dogs absolutely love it!

You also need to ask yourself when you last brushed your dog’s teeth. The cheesy smell could just be bacteria buildup in their mouth from lack of brushing. It’s good to get in the habit of brushing your dog’s teeth (with doggy toothpaste) at least once per week.  If your dog suffers from chronically bad breath, you can put some peppermint essential oil in their water. A small amount should freshen up that bad breath.

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Poor Diet

Like humans, dogs need a healthy diet. When they eat foods that give them allergic reactions, they will itch like crazy. This itching can cause inflammation and harbor all kinds of cheesy smelling bacteria and fungi.

Monitor what your dog eats and keep a food diary for them. If you notice one kind of kibble makes it worse, then switch dog food. Feeding your dog table scraps will make it very difficult to determine which food is causing your animal to have a reaction. Again, your veterinarian will help determine if your dog is itching in response to food or not.

Your Dog Got Into Something

Of course, we can’t ignore the simple possibility that your dog got into something. Even if you saw no evidence of them getting into the trash, the bag of chips, or the cheese that was left out on the counter, it doesn’t mean they didn’t eat or roll in something that is making them smell like cheese.

If you give your dog a bath and the cheese smell doesn’t come back, chances are good the reason they smelled bad was that they rolled in something with a strong odor.

As you can see, your dog can smell like cheese for a multitude of reasons. As a responsible pet owner, you must help your animal in these situations. Remember, do not self diagnose, always consult a veterinary professional in all matters regarding your pet’s health and well being.

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