That Dog Smell Problem: Plus 5 Tips & Tricks for Pet Owners

woman holding a small fluffy dog in one hand and holding her nose from a bad smell with the other

Struggling with a smelly dog and home? Say hello to a new breath of fresh air with these simple strategies from our experts.

Every pet owner knows it when we smell it – “Eau de Dog” perfume. Our dogs seem to have an exceptional talent for finding the smelliest things to roll in, and we spend our days trying to figure out how to make them smell like, well, anything but that.

If you’re nodding along, wondering whether your pup or your living room will ever smell the same again, fear not! We’re here to help you uncover the mysteries behind doggie odors and, more importantly, what you can do about it.

The Mysterious Case of That “Dog Smell”

Every dog comes with its own special scent, and some can be more “special” than others, especially when they come out of the rain. This can be due to a variety of reasons, some of which may require a veterinarian’s attention.

The Wet Dog Aroma

First off, there’s the classic “wet dog” smell. This hits you like a wave after your dog has had a joyful romp in the rain or roll around in the wet grass. The scent also lingers in your house, as well. 

Our dogs have a collection of natural microorganisms in their fur that continually excrete an odorless waste. But when this microscopic excrement gets wet, it releases that distinctive, smelly scent. And while it’s normal and harmless, it’s not exactly pleasant.

Oily Coat, Smelly Dog

Certain dog breeds tend to have more naturally oily coats than others. While this can make their fur shiny and beautiful, this extra oil on the dog’s skin can become rancid smelling if it builds up for too long, especially if combined with extra dirt and grime. 

That’s Just the Way They Roll

Just like children, our dogs love to roll around and play in the grass, puddles, and anything smelly for the pure joy of it. Some animal experts also believe that this behavior comes from their ancestors’ habit of trying to mask their own smell to sneak up on prey. 

But our pampered, domesticated canines live right beside us in our human homes. And while they aren’t bothered by their own body odor after their outdoor adventures, we definitely are. 

The Strange Odor of Ear Infections 

Dogs with droopy, floppy ears are especially prone to ear infections; although, any dog breed can end up with this painful condition. Oddly enough, this can lead to a distinct odor usually caused by an overgrowth of bacteria or yeast

If your dog’s scratching their ears more than usual or shaking its head often, this could be a sign of pain, swelling, or itching. Check for redness and irritation, and consider consulting your vet for treatment options.

The Tail End of Problems

Your dog’s anal glands are fluid filled sacs that are usually released during a bowel movement. They’re located at the 3 and 9 o’clock positions around their rear. If your dog’s backside suddenly smells especially foul and seems swollen, it’s time for a vet visit. These glands can get infected or impacted. And once this happens, it could become a recurring problem.

For more information on pet smells from a professional groomer, click HERE.

5 Tips to a Fresher-Smelling Pup & Home

Keeping your dog smelling like an acceptable member of the family involves a mix of regular grooming, vigilant health care, and keeping an eye on their more… eccentric habits. Don’t forget to consult your vet for advice tailored to your dog’s specific needs.

1. The Power of Routine

Establishing a grooming routine is crucial. This doesn’t mean daily baths—overbathing can dry out their skin and fur. Find a frequency that keeps them clean without causing irritation. Look for gentle shampoos to keep them smelling fresh and keep their odors off your furniture and carpets, too. 

And let’s not forget the power of a good brushing session. Not only will this remove dead hair and redistribute their natural oils, but it can be a great way to bond with your fur-baby. If unpleasant scents linger or skin issues develop, it’s time to vet check with a vet.

2. Diet and Health

What your dog eats can also have an impact on how it smells. A nutritional, high-quality, natural diet can improve digestion and reduce some of the natural gas odors as well as improve teeth and gum health. And brushing your dog’s teeth at least three times a week will add another layer of protection and odor control, too.

Keeping your pet’s bed and toys clean can help maintain a hygienic environment, especially combined with a grooming routine. And, of course, regular health check-ups can prevent issues like infections and those dreaded anal gland problems.

3. The Smelly Stuff Outside

Whether your dog regularly goes to the dog park or you take them with you on outdoor adventures, it’s a good idea to be prepared for and on the lookout for opportunities for stinkiness. 

As adorable as we think our dogs are, they can also be pretty gross. For some, dead animals and dog poop can be an alluring invitation to roll around in the stink, or worse, eat it. Mud puddles and algae filled ponds may seem like the perfect places to splash, too. 

You might want to keep a clean-up kit handy either in your car or at home. You can include old beach or bath towels, paper towels and small plastic waste bags, latex or rubber gloves, odor neutralizing spray or enzyme cleaner, hand sanitizer, and even some treats to lure or distract an excited, messy pup.

4. Removing Pet Odors from Your Home

As pet owners, we know that accidents, messes, and smells are just part of life. But the odor of messes doesn’t have to take over our homes. 

Pet accidents: It’s important to clean up accidents immediately and thoroughly. Once you remove any solid mess, blot up the remaining liquid mess with paper or cotton towels. Rinse with clean, cold water, and blot again – hot water can set stains and odors.

It’s best to use an enzyme based cleaner formulated to break down pet odors at the molecular level. Most conventional cleaning products tend to just mask pet odors.

Household remedies: Since our fur-babies spend most of their time on our floors and furniture, regular vacuuming of carpets and upholstery can alleviate a lot of pet odors. Try sprinkling baking soda a few hours beforehand to absorb even more odors naturally. And don’t forget to clean your vacuum filters, too. 

Placing a small bowl of distilled vinegar and water, baking soda, or activated charcoal in an out of the way location can also naturally absorb pet odors. You can add a few drops of your favorite essential oil to both for an added pleasant scent. 

Air purifier: Using a HEPA/ activated carbon combination air purifier can be a great way to remove pet smells from your home as well as allergens, floating pet fur and dander, and other harmful substances from the air that can affect your health. 

For maximum effectiveness, make sure to get the right size air purifier for your room and regularly maintain your device and filters. 

5. When It’s Time to Call a Professional

Is everything you own is covered in pet fur, paw prints, and dirt? Or does your home constantly smell like “Eau de Dog”? Well, you might want to give yourself the gift of a professional, deep pet cleaning.

Most cleaning or maid companies offer this service, and it can be a great reset if you’re overwhelmed with cleaning up after your pets, especially if you have several fur-babies. It’s a top to bottom, all at once cleaning of carpets, furniture, baseboards, and walls, along with pet stain and odor removal. 

 Learn more about professional pet cleaning.

BONUS! Skunk Season: The Ultimate Challenge

For pet families who enjoy the great outdoors together, there’s the unexpected possibility that your curious explorer might discover a skunk. The defensive spray of a skunk is notorious for its vile, pungent odor that deeply penetrates fur, skin, and fabric. 

Because of the chemical make-up of skunk spray, the worst thing you can do is to immediately hose down your dog. Water activates it and makes it worse. And the old fashioned remedy of tomato juice is pure legend. It doesn’t chemically react with skunk spray to destroy it. 

Here’s the best DIY de-skunking recipe: 

  • Mix 1 quart of 3% hydrogen peroxide
  • 1/4 cup of baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons of dish detergent. 
  • Apply with a cloth, wait 5 minutes, rinse, and repeat if necessary. (And, a word to the wise: protect those puppy eyes from the solution.)

Learn the science behind eliminating skunk spray.

In Conclusion … 

At the end of the day, whether your dog smells like sunshine or the inside of a gym shoe, it’s all part of the grand adventure  

Let’s face it, dogs will be dogs. They’ll find that one puddle, that one dead thing to roll in, or that one spot of mud that’s just perfect for a dive. While we can’t (and shouldn’t) stop them from being their wonderfully curious selves, we can manage the aftermath. Keep those towels handy, have a designated doggy bath area, and remember, every messy adventure is a story to tell.

There’s more to learn about your dog smell and what the changes in season brings. Check out this blog!

If you have any questions about daycare or boarding at Dog Day Getaway or would like to schedule an in person tour, please feel free to Contact Us