How to deal with a smelly dog

How to deal with a smelly dog

It’s true, all dogs smell. A little bit. It’s natural and it’s not realistic to think you can prevent your dog from smelling of anything at all. They need the oil that is present in their coat in order to stay healthy and you shouldn’t wash them too frequently if you want to make them smell less ‘doggy’. Older dogs and pedigree breeds tend to smell more that younger dogs or cross breed dogs, but overall, your dog shouldn’t smell so bad that it causes you problems. This could indicate that there is some sort of issue and it’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with potential sources of doggy odour so that you know when you need to take action.

All American smelly dog Photo by Caleb Fisher on Unsplash

Smelly dog breath

The most common cause of bad breath in dogs is dental disease. If you’re not already brushing your dog’s teeth, this is something you may wish to consider. You can also find a great range of dental chews available for sale in supermarkets which can help to clean your dog’s teeth and prevent the build up of tartar and keep their gums healthy. If you brush regularly this also means you are inspecting your dog's mouth regularly and you can pick up on any potential problems much more quickly.

We wrote a comprehensive blog post about caring for your dog’s teeth last year so you might want to check it out if you’re just getting started.

Even with regular brushing, it is possible that your dog has a dental problem that is causing a smell. An abscess or other problems below the gum line may not be immediately apparent, so if the problems persist take them to the vet to get it checked out.

Sometimes dogs can get a piece of stick or something jammed in the roof of their mouth. This can also begin to smell and make your dog drool, so try getting a look inside the mouth to see if you can see anything that shouldn’t be in there. If it’s too difficult to see, your vet will always be happy to take a look for you.

If it’s not a dental problem causing the smell, you have to ask yourself what else your dog has been up to. There’s no easy way to say this, some dogs like to eat poo – from a variety of different animals - which they may find in your garden or out walking. Keep an eye on what they are up to and limit their access to this if you can help it.

Dog breath Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash

Medical problems that cause bad breath

If your dog has problems with their anal glands, they may lick them excessively and – as you can imagine - this can cause bad breath too. In this instance it’s best to go to the root of the problem and your vet will be able to help you solve the gland problem to get your dog back on track.

Other illnesses can also cause bad breath. For example, kidney failure can cause your dog to have more toxins circulating in their body,  causing halitosis.

If your dog’s breath smells of pear drops this is a sign of ketosis - something familiar to anyone who has tried the Atkins diet. For dogs this could mean something more serious as it could be a complication of diabetes mellitus.

Smelly dog Photo by Kristin Brown on Unsplash

Smelly dog coat

Dogs don’t sweat all over like humans do but they do secrete a little bit of sweat from their paws and their hair follicles – this creates a unique smell which is your dog’s signature scent. They also produce oil which keeps their skin and coat healthy. Just like humans, these combine to produce normal body odours which can be managed with regular bathing and grooming.

If your dog’s coat is excessively smelly then the first place to check is their mouth. If they have some of the medical problems described above then the smell of their bad breath will transfer to their coat when they groom themselves, leading to a bad smell all over.

If it’s not bad breath causing the problem, there are a couple of other reasons that your dog’s coat might smell more than usual:


A severe smell could be a sign of an infection, either internal or external anywhere on your dog’s body. In this case it is extremely important to consult a qualified veterinary professional, as soon as possible. You should never leave an infection untreated.

French bulldog Photo by Jingjie wong on Unsplash


An overgrowth of yeast in the body can make your dog smell excessively musty or cheesy. If your dog is prone to yeast problems then try to ensure they eat healthily - with a natural unprocessed diet - and that they are groomed regularly. There are some great shampoos on the market to help combat this particular problem in dogs.

Sunny sausage dog Photo by Anna Dudkova on Unsplash


Not only do dogs like to eat poo. They like to roll in it too. Rolling is good for your dog and a sign that they are healthy and happy. If your dog rolls in something particularly pungent, such as fox poo it can be hard to get rid of the smell. Some people swear by putting ketchup on it to neutralise the smell before washing – or there are some good dedicated poo-washing shampoos available on nowadays which mean that the smell comes out after the first wash, not the fifth.

Wolfhound Photo by Simone Dalmeri on Unsplash

Bathing your smelly dog

As you know we have a full range of grooming equipment to help you make sure your dog doesn’t smell too bad! From grooming baths to doggy dryers we’ve got everything you need to keep your dog happy, healthy and less smelly. You can check them out in our online grooming shop – and we’d love to know how you’ve been using them to care for your own smelly dog at home.  

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published