Smelly Dog? Keep the Dog, Lose the Stink

A smelly dog should be the exception to the rule, not the rule! Here's how to prevent and eliminate offensive doggy odors.

It happens to every pet owner. You're lounging at home and all of a sudden you smell it -- that smelly dog smell. Did you know that the wet dog smell should occur only when you have a wet dog in the house? "With general living, dogs shouldn't be that stinky," says veterinarian Dr. Bernadine D. Cruz of Laguna Hills Animal Hospital in California. "If your dog has a bad scent, try to determine why. It could be an ear infection, a bad tooth, a skin infection, anal glands that are overly full, or your canine friend has been rolling in something foul."

Cure For the Smell
Dr. Cathy Alinovi, a holistic veterinarian with Healthy PAWsibilities, suggests changing your dog's diet as a means to prevent a smelly dog. "For many dogs, switching from dry food to raw, homemade or meat-based canned food" -- listed in order of "food healthfulness, according to Dr. Alinovi -- "will take care of the issue, or at least 80-percent of the problem. It usually takes three weeks for changes in the dog's coat and smell to be noticed," she says.

After three weeks, if the dog is still smelly or yeasty, a yeast cleanse would be indicated, according to Dr. Alinovi, adding that "a holistic vet will prescribe probiotics and anti-yeast therapies to help with the issue." She adds that if a dog is prone to smelliness, there is something else going on. "These dogs may also have greasy skin and dandruff," she adds.

"A lot of what is going on is yeast -- whole body yeast. It comes out their ears most frequently. These are dogs with chronic ear infections. The yeast is a result of eating processed foods -- most dry dog food is the culprit as it is loaded with grains, which feed yeast." If you suspect that your dog's ears are the issue, you can add three to four drops of baby oil inside the ear flap, not into the ear canal, and give them a gentle massage.

Combating the Smell
"When you bathe your dog, use a good quality pet shampoo. Don't be tempted to use people products," Dr. Cruz explains. "A dog and cat's skin is very different from ours. Bathe the pet from the neck down. Don't get water into their ears. If the malodor persists, see your veterinarian." Dr. Cruz suggests that you bathe your pet "under your veterinarian's direction. Depending on your pet's skin condition and level of reek, a good sudsing once or twice a week may be appropriate." He suggests using a mild shampoo, such as Hartz Hypoallergenic Pet Shampoo or an oatmeal shampoo, which won't dry out your dog's skin.

A few fantastic options for neutralizing the smell between baths are Dr. Harvey's Organic Shampoo, FURminator deOdorizing Waterless Spray and DeStress Lavender and Chamomile Aromatherapy Freshening and Shining Spray for Pets. "Quickly wiping your pet down with freshening towelettes, like the ones made by Hartz," says Dr. Cruz "is a fabulous way of putting the pretty back into your pet's step." Ultimately, if your dog is particularly smelly and DIY remedies aren't enough to combat their odor, you should seek the help and advice of a veterinarian.

There are also some easy DIY remedies, such as a homemade dog shampoo, that you can try at home. Here are a few:
 

  • Shampoo
    This homemade moisturizing dog shampoo from First Home Love Life combines fresh rosemary, coconut oil and castile soap for a fresh-smelling dog wash.
     
  • Rosemary-Mint Spray
    This homemade dog odor spray from Bonbon Chihuahuas relies on dried mint and rosemary for a scented spritz.
     
  • Vinegar Spray
    Skip the dried herbs and just use water and vinegar in this DIY deodorizing dog spray recipe from Design Sponge.
     
  • Essential Oils
    Overthrow Martha suggests trying essential oils and recommends other homemade natural remedies, as well.
     

Ultimately, if your dog is particularly smelly and DIY remedies aren't enough to combat the odor, you should seek the help and advice of a veterinarian.
 

Shannon Moyer-Szemenyei is the writer and owner of Sweet Stella's. A longtime pet lover, she grew up with her beloved dalmatian, Tony, and many stray farm cats that her family would adopt. Shannon is a past volunteer of the London Humane Society and is planning to adopt a new family pet soon!

Tips and stories from parents and caregivers who’ve been there.

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