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Help! My Dog Smells!

At A Glance

A smelly dog could mean different things, but it mostly comes down to hygiene and grooming (or the lack thereof). There are plenty of natural, inexpensive, and do-it-yourself ways to eliminate unpleasant dog odors at home.

  • Does your dog have bad breath? Simply give it wheatgrass or parsley to chew on for instant freshness. The chlorophyll acts as a deodorizer that neutralizes the unpleasant smell.
  • Your pet’s ears are often overlooked during its grooming routine, which can lead to infection that gives off a stench. Clean them regularly with an ear-cleaning solution!

Last Updated on: Oct 07, 2022

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Did your dinner guests just wrinkle their noses?

It must be the dog.

Sweat, earwax buildup, bad breath, and unclean undersides can make your dog reek. These dog odors can intensify over time if you’re not careful about eliminating them. And not just from your pup but also from around your home.

But wait! You might want to think twice before dialing your pet’s grooming salon or carrying it to the bathroom.

If you believe bathing your dog often is the solution, it’s not!

Frequent dog washes can cause lesions, stiff fur, and rashes. Dogs need only 4 to 6 baths in a year (besides the times it gets dirty from playing outside).

Unsure about where to begin?

Check out the list below of home remedies for smelly dog, which can snuff those nasty odors in no time.

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Tried-and-Tested Dog Odor Remedies

A stinky dog not tended to immediately will trail unpleasant scents on your furniture, bedding, and carpets.

Try these solutions on how to make a dog smell better before your pet’s odors get worse.

1. Baking Soda Bath

Good old baking soda is a handy pantry staple in and out of the kitchen. It’s a natural deodorizer that eliminates foul odors from most surfaces.

“Baking soda is a base, and pet urine is acidic”, explains Donna Dougherty, owner of a popular cleaning service in the Greater Philly area. “When you put them together, baking soda chemically has the ability to neutralize acidic substances and make them more alkaline, eliminating the odors”, she adds.

No wonder our moms and grandmas use this miracle household item on furniture, carpets, and bedding to remove stubborn stains and smells.

Here are two ways to get rid of smelly dog odors with baking soda in your pet’s bath:

Dry Method

What you’ll need:

  • A box of baking soda
  • Pin brush
  • Slicker brush
  • Towel

Place your dog on a towel or in a tub to avoid a mess. Apply baking soda on their fur, massaging it across the skin gently. Be generous with that salt powder since you want it to cover everything, except your dog’s face.

Also, be careful not to let any baking soda get in your dog’s eyes or mouth. Distract them with a treat while you wait a few minutes to let the chemical compound do its job. Then, use the pin and slicker brushes to gently remove it from their skin and fur.

Wet Method

What you’ll need:

  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • Pin brush
  • Slicker brush
  • 1 tablespoon soap-free shampoo (use a hypoallergenic variant if your dog has any skin conditions)
  • Hair dryer

Combine the baking soda and shampoo until they form into a paste. Work the solution into your dog’s fur and skin, massaging gently to create a rich lather. Do this for a few minutes, then rinse the solution with lukewarm water.

To make sure you get rid of all traces of baking soda, run the pin brush through the fur until everything’s washed out. Set the hair dryer to ‘cool’ and dry off your dog.

apple cider vinegar

2. Apple Cider Vinegar Solution

Dogs sweat from their paws instead of their skin. Not cleaning them often can cause a smell similar to ‘Fritos’ or corn chips. Sometimes, the lingering scent could be a sign of a bacterial infection.

Apple cider vinegar (ACV) is one of the fantastic home remedies for smelly dog.

The Waunakee Vet Clinic shares this simple home remedy to make those pads smell clean and fresh:

Paw Soak Recipe

In a shallow tub, mix:

  • 1 gallon water
  • 1 cup ACV
  • 1 cup hydrogen peroxide


Place your dog’s paws in the solution for a couple of minutes, being careful not to let them ingest the soaking liquid. Then, remove the paws from the liquid, rinse, and pat dry with a microfiber towel.

If you wish to bathe your dog with ACV, use a 50-50 diluted solution of ACV and water. Never use undiluted ACV directly on your dog, or it will cause an allergic skin reaction.

Try It! Apple Cider Vinegar works wonders to keep parasites and fleas at bay. Keep a spray bottle with 2 cups ACV + 2 cups water. Spritz the solution on your dog’s fur once a week to keep its coat shiny and pest-free.

3. Saline Solution for Odor-Causing Saliva Stains

Dogs tend to lick themselves when they feel itchy, restless, or bored. The saliva stains get left behind in their fur, causing it to stink.

To get rid of the smell, you must clean up the stains. Here’s a very effective and quick fix:


  • Dissolve 1/2 teaspoon salt in 1 cup water.
  • Using a cotton swab, dab the saliva stains generously with the solution and leave it on for a minute.
  • Wipe the area with a damp cloth.
  • Do this three times a day, a few hours apart, until the stains disappear.

Alternatively, you can use hydrogen peroxide. Just follow the same procedure as above.

4. Add Coconut Oil to Your Dog’s Diet

Coconut oil contains medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) — beneficial fats not only for humans but also for dogs. Regular consumption, especially of the organic variety, can aid digestion and promote healthy gut flora. As a result, your pet’s breath will drastically improve.

Bruce Fife, ND, author of Coconut Oil Miracle, shares: “The medium-chain fatty acids in coconut oil kill many harmful bacteria and fungi but are harmless to friendly gut bacteria. In fact, they improve digestive function.”

Speak to your vet before introducing coconut oil to your dog’s diet. They can advise you on how much to give it in a day, depending on its age, health, and physical fitness.

5. Ditch the Grains

Kibble products contain high-carb fillers (wheat, starches, corn, and oats) and sugars that can mess with your dog’s oral health and digestive system.

Many dog parents don’t realize that canines lack the digestive enzymes to break down grains.

Does your pet suffer from halitosis (bad breath)? “The first place to check is your dog’s diet”, advises dog mom Megan Johnson. “By feeding a high quality, grain free diet your dog will usually smell a little better. Look for foods that aren’t full of rice, corn, or cheap fillers”, she adds.

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Tips To Prevent Smell From Your Dog

Like humans, dogs need to maintain oral and physical hygiene. Simple lifestyle changes can make a huge difference to your dog’s bodily scents.

Follow these best practices, and you’re sure to prevent your dog from stinking:

Brush Your Dog’s Teeth

Dogs are susceptible to oral health conditions such as tooth decay, gum disease, and periodontal disease.

A recent study found that yearly dental cleaning sessions can extend a dog’s life. These sessions may decrease their risk of dying by as much as 20%.

Regularly brushing and flossing your dog’s teeth keep tartar, plaque, and germs at bay. And you don’t even need to use foreign substances to do that. A good dog-friendly toothpaste and brush should do the trick.

If you notice that your dog’s breath is particularly foul even after following a strict dental hygiene routine, have a vet check it. You’ll want to rule out or identify an underlying health condition behind the bad breath.

Wash The Bedding

Pet owners often forget to do this all-important routine. There’s a good chance that your dog smells because he’s been napping in dirty bedding. Wash those regularly and discard anything that’s tattered or chewed up.

Pests can make their way into the bedding’s fabric and thrive on moisture and dirt. Look for signs of wear and tear that could encourage fleas, mites, or parasites to breed.

So, how often do you have to wash your dog’s bedding?

“Unless your pet has been rolling in something outside, we recommend washing your pet beds every other week”, says Karen Doss, owner of Fox + Hound. “Observe your pet bed for dirt, shedding, and odor. If you notice any of those signs, time to throw the bed in the wash!” she adds.

a person cleaning his ear

Clean Their Ears

Dogs with uncleaned ears can stink when there’s a wax buildup. Bits of it get on their paws when they touch or scratch their ears. These remnants then get on your furniture and carpets, leaving behind unpleasant odors.

How can you tell if it’s time for ear cleaning?

Only when they’re noticeably dirty or smelly. Yes, really! Leave them alone while they are still pink, odorless, and with spotless ear canals.

However, if your dog swims a lot, frequent ear cleaning should be a part of its hygiene routine. Apply topical astringents to its ear canals to keep infections at bay. But make sure they are dry and well-ventilated before you do so.

Also: “Dogs who are prone to ear infections often benefit from more frequent ear cleanings”, says Malcolm Weir, DVM, of VCA Animal Hospitals.

The process is simple: With a cotton ball or gauze, apply a vet-approved ear-cleaning solution. Then, dry with a towel. Don’t use Q-tips as they just push dirt further into the ears or damage the insides.

A gentle reminder: Speak to your vet about the right way of ear cleaning at home before attempting to do it yourself.

Feed Them a Healthy Diet

Revamping your pet’s diet is one of the best home remedies for smelly dog you should follow.

Holistic veterinarian Stacey Joy Hershman (DVM), who makes house calls in New York, says, “many dogs and cats do well on a raw diet of meat and bones with small amounts of vegetables, supplemented with digestive enzymes and probiotics.”

If preparing home-cooked meals regularly for your dog is not manageable, she suggests “upgrading to a better quality meat-based, low-grain, soy-free pet food can help.”

A diet of raw meat with a side of dog-friendly veggies and fruits can minimize unpleasant odors.

Raw food supplies your pet with essential natural enzymes for better digestion. These proteins also break up plaque and protect its gums and teeth. Unfortunately, they are non-existent in dry kibble and canned food due to the high heat applied during processing.

Hence, raw food is the way to go.

dog taking a bath

Bathe Your Dog

As mentioned earlier, frequently bathing your dog can irritate its skin and cause lesions and rashes. The Animal Medical Center of Appleton suggests every three months to prevent dry skin problems and avoid worsening existing ones.

Also, some dog coats may be naturally oily compared to other breeds. For example, the skin of dog breeds such as the golden retriever produce oil to maintain the water-repellant nature of their coats. Hence, they don’t need frequent bathing.

Speak to your vet to understand the nature of your dog’s fur and skin and bathe them accordingly.

Nevertheless, your pet will undoubtedly get dirty from being outside in the mud or grass. In such instances, don’t hesitate to wash the dirt off.

Louise Holder, Certified Professional Dog Trainer in Washington, says, “more frequent baths or spot cleaning will undoubtedly help.”

Look for a gentle shampoo with natural, non-irritant ingredients that don’t dry out the skin, like oatmeal, chamomile, and allantoin.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Does My Dog Stink?

“Most dogs have bad breath because of dental disease”, says John Duncan, owner of Winters Chapel Animal Hospital in Georgia.

Get your dog checked if its halitosis doesn’t go away even after you’ve improved its dental hygiene.

Sweaty dogs, on the other hand, can smell when they’ve been outside all day or cooped up in a warm room. Also, if you don’t wipe down your dog after they relieve themselves, they will give off a funky stench.

Other possible reasons why your dog stinks:

  • tooth or gum infections
  • yeast and bacterial infections
  • dietary food that causes bad breath or digestive issues
  • urinary tract problems
  • oily seborrhea (a skin condition)

How To Make Your Dog Smell Good After Bath?

Here are several ways:

  • Mix 1 teaspoon of baking soda with your dog’s shampoo to eliminate nasty odors.
  • Add 2-3 drops of dog-friendly essential oils to their shampoo.
  • Massage them with a lightly scented dry oil, butter, or salve after drying them off.

Can I Brush My Dog Every Day?

Frequency of brushing depends on your pet’s coat type. Also, choosing the right brush will keep its coat neat, smooth, and tangle-free.

Type of Coat Type of Brush to Use Frequency Dog Breed Example

Slicker brush, bristle brush (stimulates hair growth), and rubber curry brush (removes excess fur released after using a slicker brush) Once a week Beagle
Drop Drop
Slicker or pin brush with detangler solution (for knots)
A few times a week A few times a week

Heavy Slicker brush and 2-in-1 double row rake with detangler solution (for knots) 2 to 3 times a week Chow Chow
Curly Slicker brush with detangler solution (for knots) A few times a week Poodle
Smooth Bristle or pin brush, shedding blade with a 2-in-1 double row rake (to remove excess fur) Once or twice a week Dalmatian
Combination Shedding blade with detangler solution (for knots) A few times a week Border Collie
Silky Silky
Slicker or pin brush with detangler solution (for knots)

Daily Springer Spaniel
Double Slicker brush and a 2-in-1 double row rake A few times a week Husky

Why Does My Dog Have Bad Breath?

You can attribute that to several factors. “Tooth decay and plaque buildup can cause bad breath”, says dog owner Elaine Montgomery.

That happens when dogs don’t have a solid oral hygiene routine in place. Irregular teeth brushing, a grain-rich diet, and not making time for dental check-ups can seriously deteriorate your dog’s oral health.

The best way to maintain good oral health for your pet is to schedule a thorough dental check-up at least once a year, brush its teeth regularly, and introduce more raw food, veggies, and fruits to its diet.


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Meet Paul, a devoted dog dad to the delightful French Bulldog, Cofi. With a flair for humor and a deep understanding of Frenchie quirks, Paul brings a lighthearted touch to his writings. His relatable stories and practical insights are a blend of laughter and valuable advice and resonate with fellow dog owners.

Through his words, Paul aims to celebrate the joys and challenges of being a dedicated pet parent, reminding you that life is simply better with a four-legged, snorting sidekick by your side.