Dog Odor: How to Deal With a Smelly Dog

Dog Odor:  How to Combat that Stinky Smell by Guest Author, Jenny Nolan

Dog odor is most likely something that almost all pet owners have had to put up with at one stage or another. Just like humans all have their own scent the same can be said for dogs.

However, not all ‘dog odors’ are the same which is why at times some may be pleasant, while others can be downright unbearable.  

It is not much fun snuggling up to a stinky dog, but there is help and remedies that will make that odor go away.

I love the smell of dogs in general, especially the smell of “wet dog”!

With the amount of time you spend with your dog and the traces of their scent that they leave all over your home it is important that you look to combat dog odor as much as you can.

Not only are there numerous health benefits for your dog in doing so, but it will make your pet far more pleasant to be around, perfect for when they crave that all necessary attention.

There also is nothing worse than you or any guests to your home having to reject the advances of your dogs because of the smell they give off so keeping them clean and healthy is something they will thank you for.

What is Causing those Odd Dog Odors?

Some breeds tend to have a natural musty doggie odor such as beagles, but smells can originate from many different sources. Each aroma you notice has a cause and a solution.

Typical Dog Odor

There are some ways you can keep your dog smelling fresh, and we look at the top six in detail below.  It is important to identify the source before tackling the problem.  So, just what are some of those sources?

  • Skin Infections
  • Diet and Nutrition
  • Mouth:  Bad Breath
  • Internal GI disturbances:  Gas/Flatulence
  • Ears


The skin is the largest organ in the body, theirs and ours. When there is something amiss with the skin, the is a good likelihood that you will notice a smell.  There are several reasons why a dog may have an odor emanating from their skin.

The dog could have come in contact with something stinky. This happens more times than we like when our dogs go outdoors and roll in something.  It might feel like heaven to them, but the odor is not likely to have the same affect on our human noses.

The other reason why dogs may have an odor originating from the skin is infection, either secondary to an allergy or caused by something such as mites.

Not only are skin infections irritating for your pet but if not treated properly can grow worse.  Any time you notice a dog odor coming from the skin, think:  Infection.

Great Smelling Dog Shampoo

If it is a simple case of your dog getting into something they should not, a great smelling shampoo will take care of the problem.

This is quite an obvious one but at the same time something that shouldn’t be overlooked. It is important you find a great smelling dog shampoo that is a perfect fit for your pup if you want your dog to come away from bath time fresh and shining.

One of the most common questions that new dog owners ask is whether it is safe to use human shampoo on dogs, but this isn’t recommended.

Not only are people shampoos designed specifically for the PH level found in human skin but they just won’t offer the scents and texture that dog shampoos do.

Specialized Shampoos for Dogs

If the skin odor has a medical basis, you will first want to contact your veterinarian for advice.  There are many different specialized shampoos on the market that will take care of a multitude of problems.  Know which one to use is very important.  


This can often take pet owners by surprise but the diet you feed your dog can have an enormous impact on the odor they give off.

There are two main reasons for this, firstly a diet that is high in starches which include grain and wheat can lead to the unusually dry skin.

This can cause some allergies that bring their own smells and discomforts for your dog. Secondly, a poor diet can directly lead to digestive problems for your dog which also may cause odor.

Try Homemade Ingredients

Speaking of dog food, have you considered replacing your starch based diet with natural, nutritional food for your pet? As already mentioned above, cheap dog food can be tough for your dog to digest causing odor, bad breath, and gas which can be quite unpleasant as an owner. 

An excellent way to make the switch to natural dog ingredients to make your dog’s food yourself. Although this may seem like a big step at first, it has some benefits, including:

  • The shift can be done gradually as you first balance between homemade dog food and shop brought to make up your dog’s diet.
  • Eventually, when the switch is complete, you will exactly know what you’re feeding your dog with no hidden ingredients.
  • In the long term, it can also work out more cost effective as you buy the natural ingredients in bulk.

These advantages are worth bearing in mind when you come to changing your dog’s diet, and all can have a positive impact on the odor that your dog gives off.

Bad Breath

Bad breath is another consideration that dog owners need to take into account that can also be remedied with a switch to a healthier, more natural diet.

However, some dental issues may be more deep-rooted and have to be treated in other ways.

Your pet’s dental health can be something that is often overlooked. Although we try to take care of our dogs as best as we can, managing their coat, skin, paws, and teeth can take up quite a bit of our time.  

Tooth and dental problems, however, should take precedence, particularly if you feel like their bad breath may be caused by deeper health issues.

Inflamed gums and dental plaque can also affect your dog, so it is important to bear this in mind particularly if you want to stay on top of your dog’s odor and bad breath.

It is also important to note that bad breath, inflamed gums, and dental problems may lead to more serious health issues, such as heart problems.  Cleaning or brushing teeth is not only cosmetic, but it is also vital to good health.

Home care can include regular brushing of your dog’s teeth and the use of chews and treats to help your dog’s teeth stay as healthy as possible.

It is important to to gift your dog with treats and toys that fit the size of their jaw. Large toys and chews may cause issues for smaller breeds and may even lead to fractured teeth or even jaw injuries.

We have a great page on dog dental health issues.

GI Disturbances:  Gas / Flatulence

Some breeds of dogs are also prone to gas which owners may need to consider. Pugs and Boxers are just two examples of breeds that susceptible to being gassier than others, and this is actually due to their short-snouted nature which means they ingest air as they eat their food.  There is probably nothing worse than dog odor as a result of a gassy dog.

One way to combat this is to feed your dog from a bowl that has been designed specifically to slow the eating process and to make your dog work a little bit harder before they completely devour their food.

Anti gulping bowl on Amazon HERE.

Another product that may help your gassy friend is to introduce probiotics to their food either as a supplement or tablet. When probiotics are added, the good bacteria in the gut replaces some of the bad germs and reduces the GI disturbances that cause the flatulence.

My Choices to Combat Gas

PetVitalityPRO Probiotics for Dogs with Natural Digestive Enzymes ● 4 Bill CFUs/2 Soft Chews ● Dog Diarrhea Upset Stomach Yeast Gas Bad Breath Immunity Allergies Skin Itching Hot Spots ● 150 Count

PetVitalityPRO Probiotics for Dogs with Natural Digestive Enzymes

Outward Hound Fun Feeder Slo Bowl, Slow Feeder Dog Bowl, Medium/Mini, Turquoise & Outward Hound Dog Brick Interactive Treat Puzzle Dog Toy, Intermediate

Outward Hound Fun Feeder Slo Bowl

Ears:  Treating Ear Infections 

Ear infections are another reason for your dog giving off a noticeable odor. You will likely become aware that your dog has an infection affecting either their ears or skin because of a change in behavior and the likelihood that your pet will begin to scratch and rub the affected areas regularly.

If you are unsure that the dog odor is coming from the ears, pick up the ear flap and take a look at the outer ear. Normal ears are pink and dry. Infected ears and those with ear mites will look red, swollen with a noticeable dark colored discharge.

Discharge, soreness, and swelling are all other noticeable signs of infection, and it is advised you fight the irritation as soon as possible.

Although the signs of infection are sometimes clear, the cause can be varied, particularly for ear infections which range from allergies and parasites to yeast and bacterial infections and food intolerances.

Because of the variety of causes, treatment isn’t the same for each infection. If your dog is giving off a particularly nasty odor, the cause may very well be a yeast infection which can be difficult to treat as antibiotics and be ineffective.

Cleaning your dog’s ears can help, but it is also worth consulting a veterinarian.

Other ear infections that may be caused by allergies can also be treated by frequently cleaning your dog’s ears while others may require antibiotics or other medication which is why it is advised to visit a vet to receive the correct diagnosis and course of treatment for your pet.

My Amazon Picks for Ear Cleaners

Particular Paws Ear Cleaner for Dogs and Cats with Aloe Vera, Tea Tree Oil & Vitamin E - 8oz

Particular Paws Ear Cleaner for Dogs and Cats

Virbac Epi-Otic Advanced Ear Cleanser for Dogs & Cats, 8 oz

Virbac Epi-Otic Advanced Ear Cleaner


We hope the six ways to combat dog odor listed above can help you solve the problem of your less than pleasant smelling dog. Not only will the changes allow you to begin to enjoy the company of your pet again as they give off a natural scent but your dog will also notice health benefits as well. 

The mentioned changes above can all have a positive impact on the overall health of your dog and should be considered even if your pet doesn’t give off an odor. 

Jenny Nolan is the author of this article, “Dog Odor:  How to Combat that Stinky Smell” She enjoys dividing her time between caring for her lovable King Charles Spaniel, Sadie and vintage cloth shopping. As a professional pet groomer, she contributes to her family run blog Cleaner Paws along with Mom Sue. 

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