How to Make Your Dog Smell Better

How to Make Your Dog Smell Better

The odor of a smelly dog does not appeal to most people. In fact, dog odor can often cause people to think twice about either owning a dog or letting their dog spend time indoors or in a car with them. Unpleasant dog odors are many and varied, including bad breath, flatulence, scents arising from poorly maintained fur, or the animal stepping or rolling in feces. Ultimately, no matter how cute, a smelly dog is hard to spend time around, so it is important to keep your dog smelling pleasant.


[Edit]Bathing your Dog

  1. Buy some dog shampoo. For a dog that has rolled in something smelly, hasn't been bathed for a while, or looks dirty, a bath is a good start to fixing the odor issue. Buy a shampoo that is formulated to get rid of odors rather than simply trying to cover them up with artificial scents.[1]
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    • Conditioner is optional, depending on the type of coat your dog has.
    • 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 and working your way down to the end of the tail, apply warm (but not hot) water to your dog.

    • Your dog should be wet all the way to the skin before applying shampoo.
  3. Shampoo the dog. 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 and ears.
  4. Rinse the shampoo. Use warm water to wash the shampoo out of the dog's coat. Again, avoid water entering the eyes, ears or nose.

  5. Repeat this process for conditioner, if you choose.

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  6. Let your dog shake the water off. Stand back and let your dog shake out as much water as possible.

  7. Dry your dog as soon as possible. Using a towel, dry your dog as much as you are able. Some dogs may let you use a hair dryer set on low to blow dry their fur.

    • 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 wet-dog smell 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, length of your dog's hair, etc.[2]
    • It's best if you can prevent your dog from rolling until he has dried completely, as its wet fur will easily absorb scents.

[Edit]Grooming your Dog

  1. Clean your dog's ears. Dirty ears are a common source of unpleasant dog odors. Clean your dog's ears when they look dirty inside, but do not clean them so often that it causes irritation.[3]

    • Buy wipes, mineral oil, or an ear cleaner, available at any pet store.[4]
    • Wipe the ear where wax can be seen (generally a dark brown color) and through the different crevasses in the ear. If there is a strong odor to the ear, it is most likely an infection, not just wax, and should be addressed by a veterinarian and appropriate medication.
    • Ear infections are common in dogs and often accompany skin problems elsewhere on the dog’s body. If your dog's ears show signs of infection such as odor, redness, swelling, or discharge,[5] look out for skin problems.
    • Both skin infections and ear infections are often caused by allergic reactions to foods or something in the environment like pollen.
    • Gently squirt the solution in the dog's ear and rub the ear in a circular motion. Or, better yet, use your thumb and middle finger to gently grasp the ear canal just below the ear opening. Then, open and close your fingers to break up the ear debris with the help of the ear cleaning solution.[6]
    • Dogs usually find this enjoyable and will often lean into the ear massage and groan with appreciation.
    • Lastly, use a cotton ball to gently wipe out any fluid from the ear canal.
    • Throughout this process, do not force anything down the canal.[7] Do not use Q-tips.[8]
  2. Brush or comb your dog daily. This will remove some of the dirt and debris that may contribute to unpleasant dog odor.[9]

  3. Clean your dog's teeth. A dirty mouth leads to bad breath. For both your dog's health and odor, you should brush your dog's teeth regularly, ideally on a daily basis.

    • 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).[10] Dog toothpaste 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.[11]
    • Some dogs will not take to tooth brushing with a toothbrush right away and will require training and slow introduction to the process. Start out with the dog toothpaste on your finger, then use a piece of gauze. When your dog is comfortable with that, move up to the toothbrush so that your dog can get used to the process gradually.[12]
    • Don’t forget to treat your dog for being patient during this process.
  4. Don't scent your dog. Avoid spraying perfume or scented, deodorizing, or household products on your dog.[13]
    Make Your Dog Smell Better Step 11 Version 7.jpg
    • These may temporarily mask the odor but won't remove it or address the cause. Also, if it's not made for use on dogs, it may be unsafe, make the problem worse, or even injure your pet.

[Edit]Reducing Flatulence

  1. Consider 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 eats. Look into what you are feeding your dog, and check the ingredients on the dog food bag.
    Make Your Dog Smell Better Step 12 Version 6.jpg
    • Some commercial foods are bulked up with cheaper ingredients that are liable to cause flatulence, such as grains or soya.
    • Even dogs eating a “healthy” diet can develop digestive problems. It is not uncommon for dogs to have food allergies that cause flatulence. Some treats can trigger digestive problems, too.
  2. Change your dog's food. If your dog has been eating poor quality food, shift your dog off cheap and low nutrition food onto better quality natural brands. Many cheap brands contain fillers that are undigestible and can be the cause of the dog odor, dulled coat, gas, and bad dog breath.[14]
    Make Your Dog Smell Better Step 13 Version 7.jpg
    • High-quality natural brands are available at good pet stores or online. You can also try switching to making your own. Talk with your veterinarian about a quality dog food recipe to follow.
    • Switch your dog's food gradually. Start by adding a little of the new food to the old food at mealtime, and gradually increase the amount until you have phased out the old food entirely.[15]
    • If flatulence worsens when changing food, this is a sign you've changed over the food too quickly. Provide a more gradual change-over period between foods so that the intestinal bacteria can get used to the new food. A good transition period is three to seven days, reducing the old food by a little each day.
    • 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.[16] On the other hand, non-fat plain yogurt with live bacteria in it can benefit some dogs.[17] Ask your vet for advice first.
    • Help your dog's digestive system work more efficiently with the addition of whole grains such as cooked brown rice.[18] Better digestion means better doggy breath and less flatulence.
    • Stop the table scraps. The variety of food from the table isn't ideal for a dog's diet and can contribute to bad breath and flatulence, as well as unbalanced nutrition.[19]
  3. Don't let your dog eat from the trash. If this is happening, take steps to prevent it, as your dog might eat inappropriate or even spoiled food, as well as get covered in more stinky substances.
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  4. Exercise your dog regularly. Walking, running, and playing are good ways to reduce flatulence by encouraging gut movement.[20]

[Edit]Dealing with the Anal Glands

  1. Have your dog examined. If you believe your dog's unpleasant smell may be coming from its anal glands, take your dog to the vet. He or she will be able to tell you whether they might by overly full or infected.[21]
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  2. Learn to empty the glands. If the vet determines your dog's anal glands are a problem, have a groomer or a vet show you how to empty your dog's anal glands properly and safely.[22]

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  3. Be aware of possible psychological issues. If your dog releases secretions when anxious, excited or afraid, there may also be some psychological issues that need attending to.
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    • Talk to your vet or animal behaviorist for more ideas, since this is behavioral in origin. You may be able to minimize this problem by helping your dog feel calmer in day-to-day life.[23]

[Edit]Cleaning your Dog's Bedding

  1. Machine-wash cloth bedding. Keeping your dog's bedding clean and free of fleas and dirt will help maintain a fresher-smelling dog. Place all cloth bedding, crate bumpers, and crate covers in the washing machine. Wash as directed on the label. For highly washable items (such as old towels) do on the hottest temperature possible. [24]
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    • If possible, use a non-scented laundry detergent or no detergent at all. Dogs smell things much more keenly than humans. What smells pleasant to a human will likely smell incredibly perfumed to a dog.
      • Washing with hot water and baking soda will kill most smells without scent.
      • Vinegar and hot water works well, too.
      • If you really do need to launder with laundry soap, there are many with little or no odor.
    • Avoid using fabric softeners, as they may irritate your dog's skin and are typically highly perfumed.
  2. Dry the bedding. Transfer items to the dryer (set on low heat) or set them out to air dry in the sun.[25]
    Make Your Dog Smell Better Step 20 Version 6.jpg
  3. Clean non-washable items. Bedding items that cannot be machine washed, such as your dog's crate or a large bed, should be rinsed with the hose. If they are very dirty, scrub them out using a sponge or toothbrush and mild biodegradable dish soap.
    Make Your Dog Smell Better Step 21 Version 6.jpg
  4. Repeat. Clean the dog's bedding weekly or biweekly depending on how often the smell returns.[26]
    Make a Dog Bed Step 11.jpg



  • 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.
  • There are medical products that can reduce dog flatulence. Speak to your vet about them if diet doesn't solve the problem.
  • Spray your dog with dry shampoo and rub in as soon as it hits the coat of the dog. This won't mask the smell, just clean the skin and coat. Over a period of time (1-3 weeks) however, your dog will smell nice and be super clean!
  • Keep dog brushes clean. Wash with hot water and allow to dry before using again.
  • You can also use these really cool treats that are actually good for dogs and dogs love them! They are called Greenies and the treats look like a tooth brush. Give your dog a Greenies treat. While the dog is eating this the treat will prevent bad breath, and leave their teeth white and healthy! And the best part is they love them! They think they are a actually treat when really it's a treat that's healthy for them.
  • 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.
  • Be sure that the products you're adding to your dog's coat are not causing any odor problems in conjunction with the dog's natural odor. Scented shampoos, for example, might be doing more harm than good.


  • Human toothpaste contains fluoride, which may be toxic to your dog if swallowed. Do not use it to clean your dog's teeth.
  • 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.
  • Make sure you have professional help when first cleaning your dog's anal glands. Mistakes can lead to serious infections.
  • Frequent odor problems may be caused by more serious health problems. If none of these strategies are effective, the issue may require a vet visit. In particular, be on the lookout for severe flatulence[27], a long-lasting urine smell,[28], any strong odor combined with yellowed eyes and gums, a swollen abdomen, or vomiting,[29], or visible issues with the dog's teeth or gums.
  • Do not feed your dog chocolate, onions, grapes, raisins, tomatoes, avocados, macadamia nuts, and foods containing caffeine or xylitol. These can be harmful and poisonous to your dog.

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