How to Cure a Smelly Dog – 6 Solutions

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There are simple ways to cure a smelly dog smell. Do you have a smelly dog? Should your “Friend” Phoebe write a “Smelly Dog” song about your pup? I know we’ve all had the experience of going to kiss our dog only to be gagged by his smelly dog odor. It’s not a pleasant experience. But, what can you do besides bathing him?

Yes, there are several things to tame a smelly dog odor. 


SPOILER ALERT: I’ve included my own PET ODOR ELIMINATOR SPRAY RECIPE in this article. I personally love it! 

Budget Tip:

If you decide you need to take your dog to the groomer, remember you can still have added value because you don’t have to spend time and energy cleaning your dog. Although, you may want to save that money and try an out-of-the-box option.  For instance, do your friend’s grocery shopping, while you do yours, in exchange, your friend bathing your smelly dog. Of course, your friend still pays for her own groceries. However, I still encourage the Pet-Friendly spray. It’s economical and does a great job between regular grooming visits to cure a smelly dog! 

But first, let’s go to the source of a smelly dog.

1. Digestive Issues

2. Mouth Odors

3. Dirty Paws

4. Dingleberries (these are the poos that hang on to the fur and often get matted into the coat)

5. Rolled in Something Disgusting

6. Unkept Coat or Matted Fur


happy dog knows he can play and mom can cure a smelly dog

1. Great Food In Means Great Smells Out

Compare this to yourself. If you eat something you know won’t agree, you will have stomach issues, perhaps gas and constipation or diarrhea. This is the same for your dog. The difference is your dog can’t tell you that the food you’re feeding him is not agreeing and making him a smelly dog.

How do you find great food that will agree with your dog?

I always think this is a discussion that is best suited for you and your veterinarian. Your veterinarian will be able to guide you to a food that will work best for your dog. You can tell your vet that you have a budget and that a good veterinarian will do their best to work within that budget.

In this article, learn about how to find a terrific veterinarian.


2. Dental Care Means a Clean Mouth and Clean Dog Smells

There are many great products to help with your dog’s dental care.

This is the best dog dental spray and chews for tartar and odor.

TIP: If your dog’s mouth odor is sudden, keep your eyes on your dog. If he is vomiting, has diarrhea, is lethargic, or exhibits other concerning signs, you will want to consult your veterinarian for help. 

3. Clean Paws Keeps Smells Clean

Wiping your dog’s paws when coming in from walks, hikes, or explorations will help with the smelly dog odor. Think about how you wipe your feet on a doormat or leave your shoes on at the front door. Your dog can’t do this so easily. The theory behind wiping down your dog’s paws when coming inside is the same. I like these dog wipes. I even use them for full-body wipe-downs.

Learn how to easily care for your dog’s nails at home in this article. 

4. Seek and Find the Dog Smell

Honestly, the only way you know if your dog has a dingleberry, especially if your dog has long fur, is by looking (and yes, smelling). Dingle berries are more common with longer-furred dogs. But they can occur on any dog. If you discover a dingleberry, the best way I’ve found to remedy the situation is with a paper towel soaked in lukewarm water. This will loosen a stuck dingleberry.

Once you have the offensive hanger-on off, you may notice the smell remains or even a little matting. Continue soaking the area with warm water. Let it dry. Then rub a little baking soda in the area with a towel or your hands. Next, gently brush the area. The smell should be gone and your pup should be ready for a new adventure.

TIP: Make sure to wash your dog’s brush. You don’t want to transfer the yucky dog smell back to your dog. I like to use a simple soak with lukewarm water and Dawn soap. Make sure to rinse the brush thoroughly and let it dry before using it again.

5. Locate and Remove the Smelly Part From Your Dog

If your dog likes to roll in the grossest things he can find and then run inside to cuddle with you, then you will have to do this trick.

Try to locate where the smell is on your dog. You may find the smell is mostly located on your dog’s head. That’s my dog’s favorite spot to start a gross roll. The best way to find the location is by smelling your dog.

Next, I grab the dog wipes and gently scrub the area. I will also do a full-body rub down with the wipes because I know my dog will have done a full-body roll in the disgusting stuff.

Then I wait a few minutes for his fur to dry.

Finally, I will put a bit of baking soda in my hands, rub it into his fur, and brush. Viola! The smell is gone!

Smelly Dog Baking Soda Tip:

Baking soda is messy. You may want to do this step outside or in an area where you can easily sweep up when you’re done.


Follow-up Smelly Dog Baking Soda Tip:

Make sure to wipe down your dog’s whole body with wipes and baking soda, including paws, back, legs, and belly. While the smell may be the most offensive in one area, your pup most likely rolled through it and spread it everywhere.


Tip If Nothing Else Works For Your Smelly Dog:

If the smelly dog odor is super bad and these steps did not touch the stink, you may need to give your dog a bath or seek professional help with a dog groomer. There are many water-free dog shampoos, which work well especially in these situations or on a trip.

In this article, I talk about how to find an amazing groomer.


6. Brush Your Dog Regularly to Keep Smell Away

Unkept or matted fur can hide many things. If your dog’s fur is extremely matted, you may need to seek the help of a professional groomer.

Again, in this article, I talk about how to find a great groomer

Keep in mind that while all dogs are amazing, not all dogs are equal. Some dogs have long fur, such as Yorkies. Others have double-coated fur, such as huskies. And still, others have slick fur, such as vizslas. Each needs to be cared for differently.


brushing of can help cure a smelly dog


Get all your dog brushing questions answered in this article. 


Brushing Tip: Brushing your dog also gives you the chance to get to know your dog. You can put your hands all over your dog and you will be able to quickly notice anything new such as a lump or bump. Brushing is also a great time for bonding with your dog. My dog will lay there forever to be brushed.

In this article, I talk about ways to bond with your dog.

Other ways to get rid of smelly dog odor in your house


1. Wash Dog Bedding and Dog Smell Improves Immediately

I like to wash my dog’s bedding every time he goes to the groomer. This way he’s clean and his bedding is clean.

clean bedding can help cure a smelly dog

Washing Dog Bedding Tip: It can be tricky to wash some dog beds. I like to wash my dog’s beds on the gentle cycle with 1/4 cup distilled vinegar. If his bedding is very smelly, I will add 1/2 cup baking soda as well. I’ve also been relatively successful with putting my dog’s bedding in the dryer on low heat. However, I encourage you to use your best judgment. Some dog beds are very fragile. I did lose the stuffing on one low-end dog bed in the dryer.

2. Wash Collars, Harnesses, Leashes, and Dog Smell Goes Too

While these all have to be washed by hand, they can become incredibly stinky. I will generally wash my dog’s collar and harness once a month. I only wash his leashes a few times a year as they don’t encounter the abusive smells of his collar and harness.

To wash these items, I like to use lukewarm water with Dawn and a litter hand scrub brush (make sure to scrub his tags as well). If there’s a lot of smell, I’ll also add about 1/4 cup of distilled vinegar to the water. Then simply rinse well and hang to dry. I’m always amazed at how quickly his collar dries.

However, you do have to plan a little. You don’t want your dog to go out without his tags on even if it’s just in your yard. I like to wash my dog’s collar at night for this reason.

3. Wash Furniture Covers and Dog Smell Away

If you have furniture covers, slipcovers, or something similar, remember to wash them regularly. It’s surprising how smelly dog odors get trapped in the fabrics. Make sure to wash the areas where your dog likes to lay down or nap.

If you can’t wash these areas you can make a pet-friendly odor-eliminator spray. This is the one I use all the time. I like to use it for overall cleaning as well.


4. Vacuum, Sweep, and Mop Often to Keep Dog Smell Away

Keeping smelly dog odors out of your house, means keeping surfaces clean, which includes the floors. If you have a puppy, you need to remember to spray an odor eliminator wherever your pup has peed or pooped in your house. Otherwise, he’ll continue to mark those spots, and all other dogs that visit will mark those spots as well. If there are many spots, you may want to call in professional help with a deep cleaning.



5. Coconut Oil to Reduce Dog Smell

Maybe you like the idea of rubbing something on your dog to help with the smelly dog odor, but the idea of a baking soda mess is too much. I have a solution. You can use a small amount of coconut oil. Simply rub a very small amount into your palms and massage it into your dog’s coat and skin. The extra benefit of coconut oil is that it’ll make your dog’s coat shine and soothe his skin. You can follow up with a good brushing, just like with baking soda.

You can even massage your dog with coconut oil. Learn how in this article. 


Summary of how to cure a smelly dog

A smelly dog doesn’t need to have a song penned for him. There are solutions that dog parents can easily do to eliminate the odor. In this article, I discussed various ways to do this including using good dog food, having a good dental routine, and keeping paws and fur clean and brushed. I also discussed how to get rid of dog smell in the house by washing dog bedding, collars, furniture covers, brushes, and vacuuming.

My dog enjoys getting dirty and thrills in finding gross things to make him a smelly dog, but I’m always prepared. In no time his smelly dog odor is gone and he’s ready for more fun.

dog plays and knows his mom can cure a smelly dog


What other tricks do you use for a smelly dog?

About Terri Rodefer

Terri Rodefer is the founder of Tail Wag Wisdom, a blog focused on affordable pet care. She likes to say helping pet parents afford and love their animals even more, makes her tail wag. As a lifelong lover of all animals with a background in economics, biology, and marketing, allows Terri to bring a unique spin to pet care. 

16 thoughts on “How to Cure a Smelly Dog – 6 Solutions”

  1. I had no idea, until we had to wrangle a lost wet Beagle into our house (for a very short time!!) how smelly dogs can be when they are wet. We laughed ourselves silly at the dog who was enthusiastic and harmless until his owners came to get him from further down the road.

    The cats, of course, wanted nothing to do with the poor pup!

    I confess that I had not thought to wash leads and collars but, once you see it in print you think, oh yeah, not just furniture covers and stuff!

    • The smell of a wet dog is just too much! I don’t blame your cats for not wanting to welcome the lost, wet beagle.

      Collars are a lesson I learned early on with my dog, Henry. I went to pick him up at the groomer and grabbed his collar. I noticed it looked odd. I went to inspect it and saw that somehow he’d splashed pumpkin on it, but it blended in on his red collar. Once I scrubbed it later that night, it was bright red and smelt very good. Now, it’s washed monthly or more. I have to say, Henry tends to be messy. I honestly think he’s testing me to see if I can tell. Some days I tell him I’m changing his name to “Pigpen”. lol

  2. Great tips! I have two dogs but am proud to say that I very rarely have issues with them smelling, or stinking up my house. As you suggested, I use a combination of both keeping my dogs clean and well groomed as well as cleaning the house often.

    • I’m glad you found the tips useful. Thank goodness your dogs aren’t smelly. It sounds like you have a great plan to combat any issues. Thanks for your comment.

  3. I brush Layla nightly, it is part of her evening routine, she gets her teeth cleaned also at the same time, I wipe her down with a damp cloth each time she comes inside and yes wash her bed etc once a week. I do it all also because of her allergies and keeping off medications. Great post and reminders.

    • That’s great to have a routine like yours, especially when your dog has allergies. It will help a lot. Thanks for the reminder that having a clean dog also is helpful for allergies (both for dogs and humans).

  4. And this is why I always had cats! LOL Growing up with neighbors who bathed their dogs outside I got introduced to friendly smelly wet dogs. Nope, not for me. But after reading your post and all the potential reasons for why they get smelly is quite a feat. The most interesting aspect is food. That’s one I would not have guessed but it makes sense. They say the same thing for humans. Carnivores have a different body odor than vegans. This is a great guide for dog moms and dads looking to keep their dogs so fresh and so clean!

    • I think there’s an old saying “we are what we eat” and “garbage in garbage out”. That works just as well for our furry family members.

      I didn’t realize that vegans have a different smell than carnivores. My nose doesn’t work so well or I’d be sniffing my vegan friends and meat eating friends. I’m not sure they’d like that greeting. lol It would make sense and you certainly have me curious now.

      Thanks for your comments!

  5. It is indeed important to realize that a bad smell doesn’t always just wash away but can signal a medical issue.

    Gear can certainly be a problem, especially when it gets wet regularly as our dog’s does. She’s an avid frog hunter and spends the whole season in the water. That’s the main reason we only get nylon gear, so it’s easy to wash.

    • That’s a great idea to go for nylon gear. I do the same thing. It’s easy to wash and surprising how quick it dries.

      My pup chases lizards all summer. I suspect he’d chase anything he thought might possibly play with him, including frogs.

      Thanks for they comments!

  6. Great ideas! Thank you for the recipe for the pet-friendly odor eliminator spray. I’m going to have to use that one. I never thought about using coconut oil on dog hair either. That would be a great way to bring a healthy shine to the dog’s coat.

    • I’m always amazed at the variety of things you can do with coconut oil. Several years ago I was at my hairdressers and she put coconut oil on my hair to calm the frizz. I never thought of that one either. Just be careful. Use a very small amount and add more as needed. A little (like a pea size) goes a long ways and more can quickly give the appearance of being a greasy dog (or if you use on your hair-greasy hair). I like to start with a pea size amount, rub it into my palms, and then massage into my dogs fur and skin. If I need more I can add it as needed. Good luck! Enjoy the odor eliminator. It seems amazing! Thanks for your comments!

    • I hope these suggestions help. I think my dog comes home from the groomer, smells his beds, and takes it as a challenge for him to smell them up again. I swear sometimes I should clock him for how long it takes to drag dirt onto them.
      Thanks for your comments!

  7. These are some great tips! I find that harnesses, collars and leashes are one of the biggest culprits and also the most overlooked. That’s why we’ve recently been making the switch to biothane for outdoor travel. I know that our dogs love to get dirty, go swimming, etc. and the biothane collars and leashes mean that we can focus our attention more on just cleaning the dogs themselves lol

    • Biothane collars are awesome for easy cleanup! I haven’t made this switch yet. Mainly because someone gave my dog the cutest Peanuts collar for Christmas. Once it needs replacing, I’ll go with a biothane collar. That’s a great idea! Thanks for your comments!


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