5 Tips to Make Your Dog Smell Better – Plus Why They Stink in the First Place!

9 August 2021

Nobody likes an embarrassing dog smell. Discover all the reasons why your dog might have a strong odor, and how you can get them smelling healthy again in no time!

white and brown dog with soap bubbles on head

Dog smell – we all know that unpleasant experience of smelling a dog’s odor and wishing we hadn’t. The smell of a dog can range from healthy and pleasant, to lightly smelly, to downright stinky and sometimes unbearable. Bad breath, poor hygiene, smelly dog farts and other factors come into play. If you want to find out the reason why your dog stinks, plus get some tips to make a dog smell better – you’ve come to the right place! While you’re here, check out more articles on dog health.

Why do dogs smell – why does my dog stink?!

Like us, dogs naturally have their own smell which is perfectly normal. But if their odor becomes abnormally strong or fishy – it’s a good idea to find the cause of the bad dog smell before choosing a treatment.

Possible reasons why your dog stinks include…

Poor grooming

Older dogs or dogs in poor health may stop self-grooming. This can cause them to develop a bad smell as oils, dander and dirt builds up. Pay attention to your dog’s grooming habits to see if this is the culprit.


When your dog goes outside, they’re exposed to all the (possibly smelly) things out there (like skunks). And many dogs love to roll around in mud, dirty water, or even other dog’s poo! So yes, this could be one reason why your dog stinks.


Aka dog farts – a common reason why dogs smell. This could be a sign that your dog has eaten something that’s difficult to digest. Or if serious bouts of gas occur more often, your dog may have a food allergy or bowel disease. See a vet if you suspect that your dog farts more than normal.

Dental disease or halitosis

Halitosis is another name for bad breath in dogs, and it may be caused by bacteria caused by plaque buildup, tartar, decomposing food, bleeding or oral tumors1. Brush your dog’s teeth regularly to prevent odor and check for any oral health issues.

Ear infection

If your dog has a strong smell coming from the ear, it may be a sign of an ear infection. See a vet as soon as possible for treatment.

Atopy or allergies

Atopy is a skin condition caused by environmental allergies, and can lead to other issues including odor in dogs. Learn more about seasonal allergies in dogs.

Wet dog

A dog’s skin is filled with glands which excrete liquids. Those are meant to protect the dog’s skin. The composition of these liquids is often the reason why your dog smells. As the fur gets wet, more particles are spilled out and the unpleasant smell increases.

5 Ways to make your dog smell better:

White and brown dog holding carrot in mouth vegetables for dogs

1. Feed a high-quality diet

Diet is one factor that affects your dog’s smell. So if you want to improve your dog’s smell naturally, avoid feeding them low-quality food. Instead, add more raw meat and dog-friendly fruits and vegetables to your dog’s diet. Some fresh herbs like parsley will also help to the neutralize your dog’s smell.

person bathing brown dog in the bath, close up of dog paw under shower head

 2. Keep up with grooming 

Dogs groom themselves, but that doesn’t need mean they don’t need your help. Help your dog stay clean (and healthy) by doing the following:

  • Brush your dog’s coat regularly to prevent unpleasant odours and manage shedding.
  • Gently rinse your dog’s coat and feet after they get dirty from playing outside.
  • Bathe your dog as needed (talk to your vet for recommendations).
  • Gently remove dirt and crust from around your dog’s eyes with a soft damp cloth anytime you notice it.
  • Wipe the fold and flaps of dog ears with a clean damp cloth every few weeks.
  • Trim the coat, and hair between your dog’s paw pads, as needed.
  • Clip dog nails regularly and take good care of paws.
small dog sleeping on white bed

 3. Wash bedding regularly

No matter where your dog sleeps, their bedding should be cleaned regularly to avoid odor. Dirt, bacteria, dust mites, skin cells, hair, environmental debris, and even parasites can accumulate in a dirty dog bed. So wash your canine friend’s bedding often, just as you should wash your own bed sheets.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, dogs can bring fungal organisms into bed with you – like the kind that cause scabies – another reason to wash bedding often!

small white dog and blue toothbrush

4. Don’t forget to brush your (dog’s) teeth!

Brushing your dog’s teeth regularly is another way to avoid an unpleasant dog smell. It will prevent the buildup of plaque and tartar, not to mention gingivitis and gum disease. You can simply use water to brush your dog’s teeth, or a special dog toothpaste.

Dental calculus (tartar) and caries (cavities) can cause bad breath in dogs.

Dog getting checked out by female veterinarian in white lab coat

5. Checkup at the vet

Sometimes, a smelly odor in dogs is caused by an underlying health condition that may need treatment.

So if your dog really stinks, it’s a wise idea to bring your dog to the vet for a full check-up.

Tell your vet about the bad dog smell you experience and they will likely be able to tell you the reason, run further tests, and provide recommendations, treatment, or medication if necessary.

If your dog does have a health issue which is making them smell bad, early detection and treatment is key to a long and healthy life together!

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