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Make Your Dog Smell Better

Odor of dog doesn't quite top the list of people's favorite scents. In fact, dog odor can often cause people to think twice about either owning a dog or letting the dog spend time indoors or in a car with them. Dog odors can be many and varied, including bad breath, flatulence, poorly maintained fur and stepping or rolling in do-do.

Ultimately, no matter how cute, a smelly dog is hard to spend time around, so it's vital to get him to smell great again. Here are some key doggy odor checking and arresting activities you can put into action.

1 Steps
1.1 Bathing
1.2 Grooming
1.3 Diet and Flatulence
1.4 Anal glands
1.5 Bedding
2 Tips
3 Warnings
4 Related wikiHows
5 Sources and Citations


1 Ascertain the cause of your dog's odor. If it's evident to you, then you can go straight to the cause and seek ways to remedy it (see following sections). For example, a dog that hasn't had a bath for over a month but has spent a lot of time rolling around in the back yard dirt might simply need a bath. On the other hand, a very clean dog that has thoroughly bad breath might have medical reasons for emitting the bad odors. First up, check the dog for obvious problems, such as having rolled in feces, decaying matter or anything else stinky; dogs like to roll in things that don't smell sweet to us because it camouflages their own smell and it's just a fact of life that some dogs enjoy doing this more than others. If your initial check doesn't reveal anything, try a bath. (make sure you do not get soap and/or water in dogs ears.) If that doesn't help, here are some other common issues:
  • If your dog has bad breath or flatulence problems, it's time to visit the vet. Hopefully you've been getting six monthly or yearly check-ups already but this will require a special visit to see if the source of the odor has any serious underlying medical issues. Problems that might exist include kidney disease (persistent urine smell) or diabetes (sweet or sugary breath), liver troubles (fetid odor, yellowish eyes/gums, swollen abdomen and vomiting), bad teeth or gums or infected ears. Infected anal sacs can also cause bad odor; if this is the cause, you'll need to learn to empty them.
  • Skin or coat conditions such as seborrhea, chyletiella or other conditions that need medical intervention can be another cause of doggy odor. This may not be evident to you until after you've shampooed the dog and there is still no improvement in odor. Again, see the vet straight away for advice and treatment.

2 Avoid spraying perfume, Febreeze®, or any other scented products on your dog. These only mask the odor and doesn't remove it. They could also mask the deeper problem if there is one. Moreover, most things you might want to spray on your dog are probably highly unsuitable or even unsafe for the dog.


For a dog who has rolled in something smelly, hasn't been bathed for a while or who looks dirty, a bath is a good start to fixing his bad odor issue.

1 Buy some dog shampoo (conditioner is optional depending on the type of coat). See if you can find one that is formulated to get rid of odors rather than simply trying to cover them up. If your dog is suffering from a skin condition, such as yeast overgrowth, ask your vet for an appropriate medicated shampoo to use.

2 Wet your dog completely starting from the top of the head to the end of the tail.

3 Squirt some shampoo into your hands. Start to lather from the top of your dog's neck to the end of its tail. Shampoo the outside of the ears, the legs, the chest, belly, featherings (if any), and the rest of the body. Be careful to avoid your dog's eyes.

4 Rinse the shampoo out of the coat. Avoid water entering the ears.

5 Repeat this process for conditioner, if you choose.

6 Let your dog shake the water off. Then, using either a dog hairdryer or a towel, dry your dog. It's best if you can prevent your dog from rolling until he has dried completely.

7 Dry your dog as soon as possible. The wet dog smell that people complain about is mainly caused by bacteria that feed on a dog's natural skin oil. Like so many other types of bacteria, they thrive in a warm, moist environment. The best way to control the problem is to give your dog regular baths and to keep your dog dry as much as possible between baths. (Keep in mind that bathing your dog too frequently will remove too much skin oil, leading to health problems.) Ask your vet for advice, according to the climate, long/short hair etc.


Infected ears and a poorly maintained coat can be contributing causes to doggy odor.

1 Clean your dog's ears to avoid or correct wax buildup. Very dirty ears may be red or swollen, and may attract ear mites.
  • Buy either ear wipes or ear cleanser (such as Oxyfresh Pet Ear Cleaner).
  • Wipe the ear where wax is evident (generally a dark brown color) and through the different crevasses in the ear.
  • Squirt the solution in the dog's ear and rub the ear in a circular motion.
  • Take a cotton ball, place it right under the ear flap, and tip your dog's head toward it. The solution will be absorbed by the cotton ball.
  • Take a clean cotton ball and gently wipe away the remaining solution.
2 Brush or comb your dog daily. This will remove all debris and build-up of dirt, bacteria, etc. Back-comb to help remove more loose hairs; a wet comb can help to pick up more loose material.

3 Make sure your dog has good dental hygiene. Bad teeth lead to bad breath––after all, imagine how your mouth would smell if you didn't brush your teeth for months on end...
  • Find a dog toothbrush suitable for the size of your dog's mouth. You can buy these at any pet store, in pet catalogs, or from your veterinarian. Find a suitable toothpaste for dogs (don't ever use human toothpaste). Dog toothpastes are often flavored with such tasty flavors as beef or poultry.
  • Squirt a pea-sized amount of dog toothpaste on the toothbrush.
  • Gently move your dog's lip upward so you can see its teeth.
  • Brush all the teeth inside the mouth for about one minute. Be sure to get both sides of each tooth.
  • Repeat at least twice a week.
4 Buy some mildly scented doggie cologne; squirt your pooch a couple of times for a short-term fix. However, as noted earlier, this is a cover-up, not a solution and should only be used if you know it's a safe product for dogs and it's just in addition to all the health checks, grooming and good dietary habits.

Diet and Flatulence

1 Look to your dog's diet. If your dog isn't eating a healthy, natural diet, then odor may be caused by the unhealthy food your dog is ingesting.
  • Most dogs are lactose intolerant. If you're adding anything to your dog's diet that includes lactose, flatulence may well be the end result. Remove the lactose source and things should improve. On the other hand, natural yogurt with good bacteria in it can benefit some dogs (ask your vet for advice first).
2 Shift your dog off cheap and low nutrition food onto better quality natural brands. Ask your vet for advice and recommendations. High quality natural brands may also be available at good pet stores or online.
Be aware that the soy content of some dog food products can be responsible for flatulence in dogs. Some brands have up to 25 percent soy content; read the label and change to a brand that has none or at least a lot less.
  • If air quality worsens when changing food, this is a sign you've changed over the food too quickly. Provide a more gradual transition period between foods so that the intestinal bacteria can acclimatize to the new food. A good transition period is three days, reducing the old food by a third each day.

3 Try switching to a homemade diet. Some manufactured dog foods may cause your dog to pass gas, have bad breath, or have a dull and smelly coat.
  • Give your dog some carrot to chew at mealtimes. This will help to clean his teeth. Dry food can also help but look for good quality dry food.
  • Help your dog's digestion system work more efficiently with the addition of whole grains such as cooked brown rice. Better digestion means better doggy breath and less (or no) flatulence.
  • Stop the table scraps. The variety of food from the table isn't necessarily ideal for Fido and can contribute to bad breath and flatulence, as well as unbalanced nutrition. Unless, of course, you're eating a thoroughly healthy diet yourselves!

4 Check that your dog isn't rummaging through the household refuse. If so, stop this from happening, as Fido might be eating bad food, as well as getting covered in more stinky stuff.

5 Notice your dog's appetite. Greedy dogs take in more food, which means more to ferment and more to make flatulence with. Stop tempting him with table scraps or too many treats. Buy smaller food bowls and be strong about not over-feeding your dog.

6 Take your dog walking and playing regularly. Exercise is a good way of reducing flatulence.

Anal glands

1 Have a groomer or a vet show you how to empty your dog's anal glands. For more information, see How to express a dog's anal glands.

2 Be aware that if your dog releases secretions when anxious, excited or afraid, there may also be some psychological issues that need attending to through desensitization or other methods. Talk to your vet or animal behaviorist for more ideas, since this is behavioral in origin.


Keep your dog's bedding clean, free of fleas and dirt and you'll help maintain a fresher dog.

1 Place all cloth bedding, crate bumpers, and crate covers in the washing machine. Wash on cold. Be careful when adding fabric softeners, as they may irritate your dog's skin. If you want to add something, either use gentle detergent or vinegar.

2 Transfer items to the dryer (set on low heat), or set them out to air dry.

3 Rinse your dog crate or pet cot/bed off with a hose. If it is really dirty, scrub it out using a sponge or toothbrush and mild biodegradable dish-soap.

4 Repeat weekly or biweekly depending on your situation.

  • For dog beds with removable covers, try slipping some lavender buds between the cover and bed for a clean, fresh scent. Doing so may also have a calming effect on your dog!
  • There are medical products that can reduce dog flatulence. Speak to your vet about them.
  • Rub baking soda through your dog's fur after a bath. This will not impart any odor but will soak up bad smells, leaving your dog smelling lovely. Then lightly brush off the excess, so you don't get powder marks all over the house!
  • Chewing on approved-for-dogs dry leather bones can help to keep the teeth clean. Tug of war games can help too, as their teeth rub on the rope in a manner a little similar to dental floss for humans.
  • For skin problems, in some areas it's possible to see a vet dermatologist. This might help your dog if the odor source is skin or coat related.
  • Be sure that it's not the products you're adding to your dog's coat that are causing any odor problems in conjunction with the dog's natural odor.
  • A dog's odor is controlled basically by how well its liver clears toxins. To help a dog's liver do its job, you can give the dog N-Acetyl Cysteine or NAC; 400mg a day. For dogs who really smell bad, you will be amazed at the result.
  • Avoid feeding your dog: chocolate, onions, grapes, raisins, tomatoes, avocados, nuts, and foods containing caffeine or xylitol! These can be harmful and poisonous to your dog.
  • Make sure you have professional help when first cleaning your dog's anal glands. Mistakes can lead to serious infections.
  • Human toothpaste can result in digestive problems.
  • Some dogs are naturally smellier than others. You may just need to get used to the fact, especially as your dog ages and if it has a longer coat or is bigger in build.
  • It could be you who is hypersensitive to the smell of dog. Have your dog checked out first and then decide!
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