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If you’re wondering what you can do to keep your dog from smelling bad, this article will explain the simplest techniques to eliminate your dog’s unpleasant odor. Many people find the smell of dogs quite bothersome. It’s important to distinguish between the natural odor of a dog and the odor that could indicate an underlying health issue. Once you’ve ruled out any health problems, the smell can result from various causes, which can be easily addressed by following our tips.

What Causes Your Dog to Smell Bad?

A dog’s unpleasant odor can be triggered by several factors, including dirt (dust, sweat, etc.), full anal glands, poor oral hygiene, ear problems, and more. Conversely, it can also be a symptom and cause of an underlying illness, such as fungal infections or gastrointestinal issues.

Dogs communicate with each other through their sense of smell. They secrete substances that emit the distinctive scent we call “dog odor,” which helps them gather information like age, gender, reproductive status, and overall health.

Certain breeds have minimal or almost no odor; you can learn more about them in our article on breeds of dogs that don’t smell bad.

It’s crucial to determine if the odor is excessively strong, in which case it’s essential to rule out health problems. In such cases, consult your veterinarian for a checkup to ensure everything is in order. If your dog is also scratching excessively, the veterinarian can examine them to rule out dermatitis or skin issues that might be causing potential bad odors.

Remember that poor hygiene can enhance your dog’s odor, and a wet dog will typically have a stronger odor.

Tips for Keeping Your Dog Smelling Fresh

Bathing: The Number One Step to Prevent Your Dog From Smelling Bad

Whether you don’t bathe your dog often enough or you bathe them too frequently, both can contribute to your dog’s bad odor. Generally, dogs should receive a full bath with shampoo once a month or every three weeks. Bathing more frequently can damage their skin, leaving it unprotected, dry, and potentially causing dermatological problems and an increase in odor.

If your dog gets dirty between baths, you can clean them with a damp towel or use baby wipes designed for hygiene.

Use shampoos specifically designed for dogs; there are shampoos tailored to each breed and their individual characteristics. It’s a good idea to use shampoos that reduce odor and consider using conditioners and serums to detangle their hair, providing shine and a pleasant scent to their coat.

A homemade trick to prevent your dog’s bad odor is to add apple cider vinegar to their shampoo. It’s a natural ingredient that’s not harmful and provides shine, strength, and odor reduction.

If your dog still smells bad despite bathing, don’t despair; you should also check for dental problems, ear issues, or full anal glands. Additionally, you can always use products designed to combat dog odors.


Always Dry the Fur

It’s crucial to thoroughly dry your dog’s fur after a bath. If you let it air dry or don’t dry it completely, the smell may become more pronounced, as previously mentioned, wet fur can intensify the odor. Therefore, after a bath or when your dog is wet, make sure to fully dry their hair.

The Importance of Brushing

The third step after bathing and drying is brushing. Regular brushing is essential for your dog’s hair. Through brushing, you remove impurities, dirt, dandruff, dust, and more. After brushing, the hair is completely clean, contributing to improved hygiene and reduced odor.

Additionally, brushing keeps the fur silky, shiny, and tangle-free. How does this relate to bad odor? By preventing tangles or the accumulation of dirt, you’ll avoid the areas where odor typically builds up. Therefore, regular brushing will help eliminate the bad odor from your dog’s coat.

Each breed requires varying brushing frequencies; check your breed’s specific recommendations in our breed profile:


Oral Hygiene

The mouth can be a source of bad odor in dogs. What can you do about it? Brush their teeth. Yes, dogs also need their teeth cleaned. There are brushes and toothpaste specifically designed for them, which are safe for ingestion. Professional dental hygiene can also be performed at veterinary clinics, providing a deep cleaning of your dog’s teeth. Usually, it’s advised to have a professional dental cleaning once a year, but some breeds require more frequent cleanings due to a tendency to develop tartar and dental issues, such as overcrowding, jaw prognathism, or coprophagia, as seen in the Shih Tzu, among others. These issues often result in bad breath or halitosis.

If your dog’s breath is severely foul, smelling rotten or fishy, or exhibiting an unusual odor, consult your veterinarian to rule out any illness or disease causing halitosis.

There are snacks and dental chews that can help clean their teeth; these treats are a great option for rewarding your dog while also promoting dental health.

Ear Hygiene

Another potential source of bad odor can be the ears. Excess earwax, fungal infections, eczema, and other common issues can trigger excessive dog odor. This is especially relevant for breeds genetically predisposed to ear problems or those with large, floppy ears that don’t allow for proper ventilation.

Our advice is to regularly inspect your dog’s ears for any abnormalities and consult your veterinarian if you notice any. You can clean their ears with a damp cloth, focusing on the outer ear, but never insert anything into the ear canal that could harm it. It’s best to have your veterinarian explain the proper way to clean your dog’s ears to prevent bad odor.

Anal Glands: A Common Cause of Bad Odor in Dogs

Another potential cause of the bad odor may be due to your dog’s anal glands being obstructed. Anal glands are two small sacs located near the anus of the dog. When a dog defecates, the muscles around the anus squeeze these sacs, releasing a liquid with pheromones that gets sprayed on feces. This liquid is very pungent, which is why dogs sniff feces and each other. When these sacs become blocked, your dog may exhibit a bad odor, among other symptoms. You can learn more about how to tell if your dog’s anal glands are obstructed, how to detect it, and how to resolve this issue easily in our article on anal glands.

My Home Smells Like Dog

These are simple techniques you can use at home to reduce or eliminate your dog’s bad odor. To eliminate the dog smell in your home, check our article on “I Have a Dog, How Can I Keep My Home Clean?” where we explain how to get rid of allergens and odors in your home. Keep in mind that if your home has a strong dog odor, it will mainly be present in the dog’s belongings, such as their bed, blanket, toys, etc. Use products like floor cleaners, disinfectants, and odor neutralizers to prevent your home from smelling like a dog. Lastly, avoid putting clothes on your dog whenever possible. If your dog is sensitive to the cold, it’s normal to provide them with warmth for a walk, but have multiple outfits that you can change and wash regularly, as dog clothes can accumulate a strong odor due to sweat, dirt, and urine residue.

Summary of tips so that your dog doesn’t smell bad

  1. Give them a monthly bath using dog-specific shampoo.
  2. Always make sure to dry their fur thoroughly.
  3. Brush your dog frequently.
  4. Use shampoos and conditioners designed for dogs that provide a pleasant scent.
  5. Brush their teeth with dog-specific toothpaste.
  6. Schedule a professional dental cleaning once a year.
  7. Keep their ears clean and hygienic.
  8. Consult your veterinarian if your dog has bad breath.
  9. Provide tartar-cleaning snacks.
  10. Regularly change and wash their bedding and clothes.
  11. Ensure their anal sacs are not obstructed.
  12. Always consult your veterinarian to rule out any underlying health issues.

With these tips, we hope to help you eliminate or reduce the bothersome odor from your dog and improve your living experience. If you have a dog, visit our website to learn more about the small dog breed and find answers to frequent questions. If you don’t have a dog but are considering getting one, visit our website to discover your ideal breed.